What are RSS feeds?
RSS, also known as a rich site digest or simple actual syndication, appeared on the scene several years ago, but it was recently adopted by webmasters as a means of distributing content effectively. RSS feeds provide webmasters and content providers with an avenue to provide concise summaries to potential readers. Thousands of business websites and blogs now post content summaries to an RSS feed. Each item in the feed usually contains a title; article summary and link to article online.
Benefit for the webmaster:
As the web has become more crowded, webmasters have strived to provide fresh and up-to-date content for their website visitors. Many webmasters have found that they can easily use the information from RSS feeds to provide up-to-date web content.
RSS feeds are composed in XML, which is a very simple markup language. Similar to HTML, XML uses tags to identify fields. Webmasters can easily analyze the RSS feed and dynamically create web pages containing headlines and summaries. The feeds will be continually updated, providing a constant stream of new, automatically generated content.
RSS allows webmasters to:
1.) Provide new and relevant content on your website that encourages users to return.
2.) Ever-changing content means that search engine spiders will visit more often.
3.) Automate content delivery.
The benefits of RSS feeds are not limited to webmasters, surfers also benefit from technology.
Benefit for Internet users:
The beauty of RSS is that readers can quickly scan headlines (titles) and read articles of interest. Because the information is condensed and provided in one place, users can generally review more information in a shorter period of time. Additional information is just a click away. Best of all, readers choose the feeds they want to see – no RSS spam. If you’re not completely thrilled with the content that appears in a feed, just remove it from the newsreader. The technology is a technology of attraction rather than a technology of push, which means that the content is not imposed on the consumers, who extract the content they want to see.
RSS allows users to:
1.) Locate information easily.
2.) Read condensed information or “sound bytes” with clearly marked and dated subject matter.
3.) Classify and categorize information in an easy to navigate way.
4.) Maximize your time without having to deal with spam.
RSS feeds can be viewed in an aggregator or newsreader, which is constantly updated and shows unread feeds. I found the functionality of newsreaders to be similar to that of a simple email client. Consumers generally enter the URL of any RSS feed that interests them. Topics with a common theme can be segregated into related groups.
I highly recommend BradSoft’s FeedDemon http://www.feeddemon.com as a newsreader. FeedDemon is extremely easy to use and allows fast scanning and indexing of topics. FeedDemon allows users to quickly scan, sort, and scroll through headline and article summaries, while viewing the actual content in a split-screen web browser.
Search for relevant feeds for specific topics
To find feeds that provide niche information, users can search Feedster. Feeder [http://www.feedster.com] is a fast growing news search engine that indexes the information contained in RSS feeds. Specific topic feeds can be searched and feeds can be retrieved for distribution.
Benefit for the content developer
While the benefits for users and webmasters are clear, the distribution opportunities available to content developers should not be overlooked. The information in the RSS feed can be easily syndicated, increasing the distribution and reach of the content.
RSS enables content developers to:
1.) Increase exposure in market niches.
2.) Communicate with user bases and reach potential customers through an alternative communication method.
3.) Disseminate relevant information.
4.) Define yourself as an industry expert.
5.) Automate content delivery.
RSS has standardized the format for content delivery and has effectively defined the accepted standard for content distribution and syndication. RSS is likely to rival email as a means of content delivery in a few more years. The simplicity of the shear makes the technology very attractive.
The syndication potential, while difficult to measure, remains attractive to all parties, so the popularity of RSS is likely to continue to grow.
RSS feeds to try
There are feeds for almost any topic. Consider testing these feeds by entering the URL into your feed reader:
Small Business Feed: Tips and News for Small Businesses
Software Marketing Blog Roundup: Software Marketing & Online News
SMS, news related to wireless messaging. – news related to telecommunications, wireless industry and NotePage software
Free content articles: collection of free content articles, updates when a new article is published.
Software Marketing News – News related to software conferences, awards, software development and marketing.