RSS, short for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, is an XML-based content distribution format used by websites and blogs to distribute headlines, content, audio, blog posts and video all over the internet.
Here’s how it all works: a publisher (you, for instance) who wants to share his content with other websites and people in general puts the content in a single file, aka an RSS document, and registers this with a free website which provides RSS feeds.
Almost every blog and website, especially news sites in particular, are using RSS feeds, which people can subscribe to. People or subscribers simply need a feed reader (such as the free Google Reader) to view the feed’s content.
In addition, more of the popular browsers today (most notable Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome) come with built-in feed readers, all one needs to do is add a feed to the reader, something which is as simple as dragging and dropping.
Understandably, this is one of the best ways of circulating and spreading your content rapidly online, as well as being able to bring in large amounts of traffic back to your blog. If the content of your website is interesting, and is updated frequently, it has to potential to be subscribed by a large group of people and hence bring in a lot of traffic!
Why It’s a Good Idea to Set Up an RSS Feed
It is a good idea to set up RSS for your own website or blog as well, as it allows your audience to subscribe to your updates and if you update your content frequently, it can help bring in a regular stream of traffic to your blog. Look at it this way; every time someone fires up his or her reader to check the headlines, they will also see your website’s updates and clicks the link, bringing you traffic.
RSS has made email marketing and newsletter marketing almost redundant. Emails and newsletters tend to get caught in spam filters and usually end up in the junk mail folder, which means that their visibility and success ratio is extremely low. With RSS, since you’re not sending an email, you don’t have to worry about that. Each and every one of your subscribers can simply open their readers to get your updates.
Another excellent aspect about these XML-based RSS feeds is that they can be exported and used on external sources, such as other websites. So if, for instance, your RSS feed interests a webmaster from another blog/website, they can put up your feed on their website, redirecting traffic back to you.
The benefits of all this are multifold, it will improve your visibility and exposure by making the content of your website/blog available to a lot of potentially interested people. It will also make your content available on RSS search engines and content aggregations website. Getting traffic through RSS will provide you with a nice PR and SERP boost. And RSS also gives access to your website’s content to other websites working in the same niche or covering the same topics.
How to Create an RSS Feed
I recommend using feedforall.com, and excellent service that lets you build and manage all your feeds from one central location. Once your feed has been created (an XML file), upload it to your web server through FTP. Your feed’s URL will be www.yourwebsitename.com/feedname.xml. This would be the link to your RSS feed.
Whenever you add a new article to your blog, the feed automatically gets uploaded as well.
Use FeedBurner with your RSS feed, as it provides you URL for your feed that visitors can easily subscribe to. It also provides a redirect URL, which means that if you move your blog and the feed’s URL changes, FeedBurner will provide a redirect URL so that you don’t lose your subscribers.
Bear in mind that popular blogging platforms, such as Blogger or Wordpress, create, manage and generate RSS feeds for you automatically. This frees you of the hassle of creating or updating your RSS manually.
Submitting Your RSS Feed
First off, you have to look for RSS directories, and a quick Google Search will bring up many of these. Once done, submit your RSS feed to as many of these directories as possible. It might take a while if you decide to do it manually, but you do have the option of using either one of the widely-available submission tools out there, or perhaps even outsource the whole process. Make sure that each submission has a unique description, title and keywords. Also keep a record of the what exactly you are submitting and where.
Another tool at your disposal is called an RSS aggregator. In simple terms, what this does is take many different RSS feeds from different locations to form a single feed or webpage. The single feed can then be submitted to directories, adding to your list of backlinks.
RSS feeds, therefore, are a great way to create some valuable backlinks to your blog, and help your blog rank better for your keywords. Additionally, RSS can be a brilliant way of bringing in potentially massive amounts of traffic.