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What are RSS feeds?

RSS feeds.

RSS, also known as Rich Site Summary or Real Simple Syndication, appeared on the scene several years ago, but has only recently been embraced by webmasters as a means of effectively syndicating content. RSS feeds give webmasters and content providers a way to provide concise summaries to potential readers. Thousands of commercial websites and blogs now post content summaries in an RSS feed. Each item in the feed typically contains a title; abstract of the article and link back to the article online.

Benefit for the Webmaster:

As the web has become more crowded, webmasters have struggled to provide new and updated content for their website visitors. Many webmasters have found that they can easily use information from RSS feeds to provide up-to-date web content.

RSS feeds are written in XML, which is a very simple markup language. Similar to HTML, XML uses tags to identify fields. Webmasters can easily parse 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, which encourages users to return.

2.) Constantly changing content means search engine spiders will visit more often.

3.) Automated content delivery.

The benefits of RSS feeds are not limited to webmasters, Internet users also benefit from the 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, there’s no spam with RSS. If you’re not completely happy with the content that appears in a feed, simply remove it from your newsreader. The technology is a pull technology rather than a push technology, which means that the content is not forced on consumers, who pull the content they want to watch.

RSS allows users to:

1.) Easily locate information.

2.) Read condensed information or ‘soundbytes’ with thematic material clearly marked and dated.

3.) Classify and categorize information in an easy to navigate way.

4.) Maximize your time without dealing with spam.

RSS feeds can be viewed in a news aggregator or reader, which constantly updates and displays unread feeds. I found that the functionality of the news readers is similar to a simple email client. Consumers typically enter the URL of any RSS feed they are interested in. Topics with a common theme can be segregated into related groups.

I highly recommend BradSoft’s FeedDemon http://www.feeddemon.com as a news reader. 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 feeds relevant to 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 information contained in RSS feeds. Topic-specific feeds can be searched and feeds retrieved for syndication.

Benefit for the content developer

While the benefits to users and webmasters are clear, the distribution opportunities available to content developers should not be overlooked. The information contained in the RSS feed can be easily syndicated, increasing the distribution and reach of the content.

RSS allows content developers to:

1.) Increase exposure in niche markets.

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.) Automated content delivery.

RSS has effectively standardized the format for content delivery and has effectively defined the accepted standard for content distribution and syndication. RSS is likely to compete with email as a means of content distribution in a few years. The simplicity of the cut makes the technology very attractive.

The distribution potential, while difficult to measure, remains attractive to all parties, increasing the likelihood that RSS’s popularity will continue to grow.

RSS feeds to try

There are feeds for just about any topic, consider giving these feeds a try by entering the URL into your feed reader:

Small Business Feed: Tips and News for Small Businesses

http://www.small-business-software.net/blog-feed.xml

Software Marketing Blog Roundup: Software Marketing and Online News

http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com/blog-feed.xml

SMS, news related to wireless messaging. – news related to telecommunications, the wireless industry and NotePage software

http://www.notepage.net/blog-feed.xml

Free Content Articles – Collection of free content articles, updates when a new article is published.

http://www.software-for-small-businesses.net/article-feed.xml

Software Marketing News – News related to software conferences, awards, software development and marketing

http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com/feed.xml

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