The Importance of RSS (Mini Series Part 4)


RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a way for visitors to easily catch up on your latest blog postings. Using a .xml format people subscribe using an RSS reader. RSS readers are special programs that read the .xml file. RSS readers are numerous, searching for RSS readers brings up lots of results if you want to try them for yourself.

The Importance

The real importance of RSS feeds is that it gives visitors a chance to easily read your content. Before RSS was on the scene people had to visit the site, scroll through the pages and read it like normal. RSS is a way to automatically give visitors the latest information. By setting one up people will receive, in their reader, a link and a description saying that you have made a new post.
The Types

RSS feeds generally come in two formats, Long and short. There are different types of RSS (RSS 1.0/2.0 but thats more technical). The difference between long and short is the amount of information you give a reader.

A long RSS displays all of the content of your post. My RSS feed for example is set to long. This will display all of the post. Meaning that readers will not have to visit my site to read the whole post.

A short RSS feed is a feed that, as the name suggests, is short. They only display a small portion of the post length. The best example of this is Engadget. There feed is displayed as small and usually only shows a small portion of the full post.
Choosing Which One?

There is two distinct choices which you can make. Having a long feed results in people not visiting your site but reading your content. Or having a short feed where you give them a short snippet and hope they visit. Personally I prefer having the long version as the visitor can then read the post and chose for themselves to participate by visiting and placing a comment. Using the short feed seems like forcing the user to visit if they want to read more.

How Is The Magic Done?

The magic is done very simply. If you use any content management system such as wordpress, or any blog the feeds are created automatically. If you have a site that you made from scratch and you don't have any php or other type of programming language that you can use to create the feed the actual RSS feed is very simple. If you do a search in Google there will be hundreds of sites that list how to make your own RSS feed.

To put is simply and to draw up a conclusion. RSS feeds are good because they bring in lots of returning visitors. The more returning loyal visitors you have the more chances your website will spread and the more visitors you should hopefully get. Its like a vicious circle, except nothing is vicious.

If you want to subscribe to my RSS feed you can find it here.