RSS, or Really Simple Syndication as it is commonly known, is a technology that gives webmasters the ability to easily distribute and publish syndicated content on the Internet. It seems like all Internet businesses now have RSS feeds available; at least your competitors do. You have finally made the decision that you have to have one. Where do you start?
Steps to Creating an RSS feed
1.) Build a Feed
There are a number of desktop and web applications available that make feed creation easy. I would encourage anyone creating a feed to use one. Though not overly complicated, hand-coding an RSS feed can become a bit confusing and time-consuming. Most desktop software applications for building a feed include a wizard and contact-sensitive help, simplifying the process of creating a feed. Following a few simple steps in a wizard generally will produce an RSS feed in just a few minutes.
Publishers control what information is syndicated in the RSS feed, so ultimately it is the publisher's decision as to whether to include teaser copy or full articles. Consider what you are trying to accomplish and who your target audience is when building the feed.
Software to Build a Feed - http://www.feedforall.com
Tutorial for Creating Feed by Hand using XML-
2.) Transfer the Feed Onto Your Server
Once you have constructed an RSS feed you will need to transfer the feed to your server. This can be done using a standard FTP client (if it is not built into the feed creation software). The feed is usually placed in the domain's root directory like this:
http://www.mydomain.com/nameoffeed.xml, but as long as you know where it is it doesn't really matter.
3.) Display the Feed on Your Website Using a Graphic of Some Sort
In order to signal to website visitors that an RSS feed containing content related to the website is available, include a colorful graphic on the website. It has become a standard that nearly all websites that have RSS feeds available use colorful graphics such as flags as indicators that RSS feeds are available for specific content. The flags were initially bright orange rectangles but as the popularity has grown, webmasters have bent the rules a bit. NotePage has made a free online RSS graphic tool available that allows users to quickly customize buttons by selecting the text on the button and the color scheme of the button. Once the color and text is entered, a custom graphic is instantly created. Webmasters can easily match the style of the RSS button to a website's theme. Graphics experience is not required. Simply select alternative colors and insert text to personalize RSS feed graphics. The RSS graphics tool can be used by clicking the following URL
http://www.feedforall.com/public/rss-graphic-tool.htm or choose ready made graphics fom: http://www.rss-specifications.com/rss-graphics.htm
4.) Include Information in the HTML of the Web Page So RSS Readers Auto-Detect Your Feed
After publishing an RSS feed it is important to let visitors know that the feed exists. Aggregators will automatically detect RSS on a website if you add a small bit of code in the header field of an HTML page.
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS"
Be sure to replace http://www.yourdomain.com/rss.xml with the URL to the RSS feed.
5.) Display the Feed's Content on a Website
Contents contained in an RSS feed can be added to a website, providing site visitors an alternative method for viewing the content. The information will also help increase search engine interest. Displaying the feed as HTML can be accomplished. Providing fresh content on a regular basis will encourage site visitors return.
Tutorial for Displaying Feeds - http://www.small-business-software.net/display-rss.htm
6.) Submit the Feed to RSS Directories and Search Engines
As a rapidly increasing number of content sources, new and old, migrate or add RSS as a key distribution channel, and as more people utilize RSS newsreaders and aggregators to keep themselves informed, the ability to maintain high exposure and visibility is gradually shifted from complete attention to major search engines and content optimization techniques to an increasing awareness of RSS feed directories and search tools.
In order to increase exposure of an RSS feed it should be submitted to RSS search engines and directories. This can be done manually. Just as you would submit the URL of a website or web page to a search engine you will need to submit the link of the actual feed located on your website to the RSS directories. There is a large list of RSS directories at http://www.rss-specifications.com/rss-submission.htm. If you prefer to automate the submission process try RSS Submit at:
http://www.dummysoftware.com/rsssubmit.html. An evaluation version is available.
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net a wireless text messaging software company.