Creating RSS Feeds for Your Website

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RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or it's sometimes referred to as Rich Site Summary.  It's an XML-based content format for distributing news, headlines, content, etc. 

Most popular sites news sites and blogs provide RSS feeds for you to subscribe to. All you need is a feed reader to view its contents.

Feed readers come in all shapes and sizes these days. The Firefox browser has one built right into the Bookmarks feature.

You can also create feeds for your own website so your audience can subscribe to them. If you update your content frequently and promote the feed effectively, it can help drive more steady traffic to your website.

Advantages of Creating RSS Feeds

More Traffic

For webmasters this is an excellent way to bring repeat traffic to your site.  Think about it....every time a web surfer opens their RSS reader to get the headlines for all the sites they monitor, they'll also see your site's updates. 

Instead of relying on them to bookmark your site and return at a later date, their RSS reader keeps your site fresh in their minds.

So when they open their reader to check the headlines for CNN, Yahoo or any other feeds they subscribe to, they'll also get the latest updates from you!

Avoid Email Spam Filters

Many webmasters are now dumping their newsletters and switching to this method of content distribution because you don't have to worry about dodging the spam filters.

I don't think that RSS will completely replace email newsletters, but I can see them definitely being used as an alternative more and more.

When you send an email newsletter more than 40-50% of the people won't even receive it due to spam filters or because of the fact it gets lost in all the junk mail your subscribers receive. 

With RSS feeds, you don't have to worry about that because you're not sending an email, your simply sending out a news feed for all the readers to pick up.

Export Your RSS Feed

The cool thing about these feeds is that other people can use them as content on their site.  So if you have a feed that is of particular interest to another webmaster, they can post your content on their site with a simple javascript code.  This is another great traffic opportunity!

How to Create an RSS Feed for a Static Website

Most blog platforms create feeds automatically, but if you have a static website you'll need to create one manually.

I would suggest using some type of software unless you like writing XML by hand. (Yuck!)

I use www.feedforall.com for my static websites.  They have an easy-to-use feed builder that lets you create and manage all your feeds in one place.

Then once you've created your feed you have to upload the XML file to your web server.  FeedForAll.com will automatically convert your feed into the XML format so you don't need to worry about additional formatting or coding.

The URL will be something like http://www.yoursite.com/yourfeed.xml. This is the link to your RSS/XML feed, and the one you'll be advertising so people can subscribe.

So any time you add a new article to your feed, that XML file is updated.

FeedForAll also has a built-in upload feature so you can upload the XML file right to your web server with their software, assuming your web host has FTP access.

Use a Blog Instead

If you don't want to buy extra software to create your RSS feed, there is another way to create one for free.

You can create a free blog at Blogger.com and the RSS feed URL is automatically generated for you.  This is the easiest way to go.  So every time you post to your blog, the feed is updated instantly.

WordPress is another site that offers a free blog equipped with and RSS feeds. So if you have a WordPress site, your RSS feed is simply...

yourdomain.com/feed

Read about creating your own blog here.

Announcing Your Feeds on Your Website

One of the easiest ways to announce your feed on your site is to use FeedBurner.com. They provide a redirect URL (address) for your feed that your audience subscribes to.

The benefit is that if you move your blog and your RSS feed URL changes, you don't have to worry about losing your subscribers because the redirect URL they provide stays the same.

FeedBurner provides several methods of announcing your RSS feeds. You can display a traditional RSS button, rotate your feeds in banner-style on your web pages, etc.

See my blog's most recent feeds...

All I did was copy and paste some provided code into my site and Voila... I can display my latest blog RSS feeds anywhere on my site.

More RSS Help

Add RSS Feeds to Your Site Instantly
This tool allows you to display RSS feeds from other related sites on your own pages in addition to your own feeds.  It's a great way to beef up your site's content by offering more relevant information.

How to Get the Most out of RSS
If you really take the time to learn how to effectively use RSS feeds, it can really boost your site's traffic.  Here's a book written by someone who really knows his stuff.   There's some great advice here for promoting your feed once you've created it.

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