rssDue to the Information Age we live in, the Internet has become bombarded with a never ending stream of content. Most Internet users are busy, yet still want to stay up-to-date and informed about the world around them.

Whether it be news, sports, health, fitness, fashion, technology, gaming, gardening, you name it, people these days need help tracking, organizing and managing information coming from everywhere on the web.

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That’s where RSS (acronym for “Rich Site Summary” or “Real Simple Syndication”) comes in. RSS is used by computer programs that organize updated content for easy reading – and has become a popular and useful means for communicating. RSS allows users to subscribe to and receive updates of content they’re interested in, thus enabling them to crunch through more content in less time!

RSS Feeds

rss-feed-meMost blog sites have a default RSS feed built in, so that when articles are published, they automatically update the site’s RSS feed. People can subscribe to a site’s RSS feed via a RSS reader or receive content updates via email by subscribing to a feed directly on the site.

A RSS feed is made up of a list of items presented in order – most recent to oldest. Typically, each item consists of a title describing the content along with a more complete description, and a link to a web page with the actual information being described. The feed displays the content in full or as a brief summary, whereby the user clicks on the link to visit the site directly.

RSS Feed Services & Aggregators

A feed aggregator, a.k.a. feed reader, or RSS reader is a web application which aggregates syndicated web content such as blogs, online newspapers, podcasts, and video blogs (vlogs) in one location for easy viewing. Feed services run automatically in the background, finding new articles as soon as they’re published.

Content feeds can be read online or can be synced with apps for mobile devices. Once you know the URL of an RSS feed, you can provide that address to a RSS aggregator program which monitors the feed for you. One RSS aggregator is all that you need to read all of your RSS feeds. Some feed services are free and others require an ongoing subscription. Popular RSS feed services include:  Feedly, Feedbin, NewsBlur, Feed Wrangler, Inoreader, Fever, SelfossFeedReader.

Google owned Feedburner is one of several RSS feed service that allows website owners and bloggers to track analytics about their feed’s subscribers and activity. Feedburner gives visitors the option to subscribe to a site’s latest content updates via email.

Publicizing Your RSS

Websites usually indicate the existence of the feed on the home page or main news page with a link to RSS, or sometimes by displaying an orange icon. It’s a good idea to put a text link/icon to your RSS feed and email subscription option in several prominent locations on your site, such as in the header, in the side bar (above the fold) in the footer and/or at the end of posts.

By adding a RSS link in the side bar along with other subscription options such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Linkedin, etc., it allows people to choose how they want to follow you. Most folks will feel inclined to subscribe to your feed once they’ve read one of your articles and found it useful or entertaining. Hence the reason why it’s a good idea to offer a link to your feed at the end of your posts.

RSS Usability & SEO Benefits

In a nutshell, RSS is a fast and efficient way to syndicate your latest content updates to a wider audience. It’s also getting more and more common for websites to have RSS feeds. Regular posting will attract loyal followers to your content and keep search engines indexing your latest updates – for maintaining and achieving higher rankings.

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