RSS Feeds: What is it? How can you use it?


RSS which stands for really simple syndication, refers to a type of web feed format. Simply put, a web feed is an application that syndicates (retrieves) content from different sites in the web, to display them in the user’s ‘web-based’ or ‘desktop- based reader’.

Content can be anything from Blog entries, news articles, media files or applications. The idea is to save browsing time and effort by automatically bringing the relevant and updated information from your favourite sites and displaying it in a convenient reader. Usually, the syndicated information is just the headlines or a short form of the content, which also contains the hyperlink to the complete information page- in case the user chooses to visit them. Such syndicated contents are very common in the websites today, and its highly likely that you might have come across a web feed without knowing it.

There are two parts in the implementation of a web feed. The web feed page and the reader or aggregator. Consider an example. You have a certain Blog or a news website that you visit, and the information in them gets updated frequently. If the publisher of that particular page provides the feed option, he/she would also publish the page in a web feed format such as RSS. You can identify if the page is feed enabled or not by spotting the feed logo (which is common to all kinds of web feed formats). By clicking on the logo and choosing the appropriate ‘reader application’, you will be able to subscribe the content of the page on to your reader. The reader or aggregator is a client program that is able to pull the information from the feed page, as allowed by the feed page. This aggregator may be a desktop client, an in-built feature that comes with a number of browsers like mozilla, or ones provided by websites such as my yahoo and igoogle.

Most blogs and news websites provide the option these days. Popular implementations of media RSS include youtube and yahoo. One can get a list of RSS sites from Providing RSS websites are also useful for people who conduct their business in the Internet, particularly in Internet or Online Marketing. RSS can be an effective marketing tool for your website, especially in fields like E-mail marketing and publishing, Search engine marketing and optimization, Business blogging, Internet advertising, Digital public relations, Branding and e-commerce.

RSS can ‘power’ your website, providing you with the following:

  • Valuable, updated, and relevant resources for site visitors and potential clients – RSS is ideal for websites that contain (and syndicate) a lot of information that has to be changed or updated regularly.
  • Search engine optimization for the website. •Increased traffic for the website – your website can ‘harvest’ and display information from other sites, driving more traffic to your own website.
  • A wide selection of ‘channels’ for content distribution, such as PDA’s, cellular phones, voice mails, and email ticklers.
  • A reliable way to have your web content delivered to Internet users and potential clients – RSS ensures that your site is viewed by the people who are interested in them, without having them blocked and ‘cleaned’ by ISPs or Spam filters.

For clients, RSS provides the following advantages:

  • RSS feeds are timelier. If you are subscribed to a certain feed, you can get updates on it immediately.
  • You don’t have to have an e-mail program to get an RSS feed. They all can be read online easily and quickly. You no longer have to worry about opening your e-mail and searching for the new messages.
  • You, as the subscriber, are in full control of your RSS feeds. If you ever want to remove yourself from a list, you can do so easily. You don’t have to worry about not being taken off a mailing list.
  • RSS feeds stay private. If you choose not to, you don’t have to give out any personal information when you sign up for a feed. You don’t have to give your name or even your e-mail address. This ensures that your information will not be sold to any other companies.

I hope this short write-up now empowers you with the knowledge of what RSS feed is and it’s uses 🙂

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