RSS and Other Ways to Syndicate Content

What is RSS and what other tools help you syndicate content? Small Biz Tech Girl gives tips for syndicating your company's content.

Aliza Sherman
May 21, 2008
Episode #004


Hi there, The Digital Marketer here, ready to help you put the power of the Internet and technology to work for your business.

I can't tell you how many times people ask me "What is an RSS feed?" So if you're scratching your head and asking that now, you're not alone.

The simplest way I've found to explain an RSS feed is by saying that it is your Web content converted into a plain text file that makes it easy to syndicate your content to other blogs and sites or to be sent through e-mail to subscribers or to be read by people using their feed readers.

Still confused?

If you look up the definition of RSS feeds online, it might not help to clear things up for you. You'll find that there are three "official" versions of what RSS stands for: Rich Site Summary, RDF Site Summary, and Really Simple Syndication. I prefer telling people it stands for Really Simple Syndication because, well, it's the only one that I can remember. Really Simple Syndication is one of the file formats that makes text into a feed.

Feed Facts

From a marketing standpoint, RSS feeds are essential, especially if you are producing content on the Web. A blog without an RSS feed is potentially losing dozens, hundreds or even thousands of subscribers and readers who don't always want to visit the actual blog site to keep up with new content. With an RSS feed, anyone visiting your blog can subscribe to receive either by e-mail or through their feed reader.

Feed readers, also known as feed aggregators, pull feeds from many sites into one place. A popular feed reader is the Google Reader, part of the Google suite of Web applications. Other Web-based feed readers include Bloglines at Bloglines.com and NetVibes at NetVibes.com. Some feed readers are programs you download onto your computer such as FeedDemon for Windows at FeedDemon.com and NewsFire for Mac at newsfirerss.com.

Most blog publishing tools have RSS feed features built into them. If you publish your blog using a Web-based tool such as Typepad.com or Wordpress.com, RSS feeds are part of that publishing tool. If you use blog software such as WordPress, setting up an RSS feed can be automated. In some cases, your publishing tool may not have an RSS feed feature built right in so you can try an application that creates a feed for you such as Feedburner at Feedburner.com.

Once you have your feed in place, make sure you have some way for people who visit your site to subscribe easily to your feed. Make sure your content doesn't just sit on your site and wait for people to come to it. Using a handy RSS feed, you can send your content to readers everywhere.

That's all we have time for today. Visit the show’s website at digitalmarketer.quickanddirtytips.com for links to all of the sites mentioned in the show. If you'd like to ask a question or request a topic for The Digital Marketer, email me at digitalmarketer@quickanddirtytips.com

The Digital Marketer's Quick and Dirty Tips for Building Your Business With Web Tools is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips network at quickanddirtytips.com

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Wikipedia definition of RSS - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS_(file_format)

List of Feed Readers - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_feed_aggregators

Bloglines - http://www.bloglines.com/

NetVibes - http://www.netvibes.com/

FeedDemon for Windows - http://www.feeddemon.com/

NewsFire for Mac - http://www.newsfirerss.com/

Typepad - http://www.typepad.com

Wordpress.com - http://www.wordpress.com

Wordpress software - http://www.wordpress.org

Feedburner - http://www.feedburner.com

RSS image courtesy of Shutterstock