12/27/2008

Create an RSS Feed

RSS feeds are created in XML. Feeds can be created using tags that are enclosed in brackets <> very similar to HTML.

Software to Create Feeds
If you are not as confident and would like software to create the feed we strongly recommend FeedForAll an extremely easy to use feed creation tool that allows webmasters to create, edit and publish rss feeds.

If you want to create an RSS feed using a text editor a step by step walk-through at Make RSS Feeds will help.

Online Feed Creation Tools
If you just wish to create a single feed and do not need to edit or update the feed you can use an online feed creation tool.

GoArticles - Syndicate articles appearing on GoArticles a large article repository.

BlogStreet - online feed creation tool, only works for blogs hosted on BlogStreet

Online RSS Feeds - Online feed creation tool

Blog Harbor - online java script blog generator

Create RSS - resource for creating RSS feeds

We recommend FeedForAll for RSS feed creation

What is RSS?

RSS is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication and Rich Site Summary. RSS is an XML-based format for content distribution. Webmasters create an RSS file containing headlines and descriptions of specific information. While the majority of RSS feeds currently contain news headlines or breaking information the long term uses of RSS are broad.

RSS is a defined standard based on XML with the specific purpose of delivering updates to web-based content. Using this standard, webmasters provide headlines and fresh content in a succinct manner. Meanwhile, consumers use RSS readers and news aggregators to collect and monitor their favorite feeds in one centralized program or location. Content viewed in the RSS reader or news aggregator is place known as an RSS feed.

RSS is becoming increasing popular. The reason is fairly simple. RSS is a free and easy way to promote a site and its content without the need to advertise or create complicated content sharing partnerships.

Definitions of RSS

RSS (n) RSS is a Web content syndication format. Its name is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication. RSS is a dialect of XML. (source Harvard)

RSS (n) RSS is a format for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites, including major news sites like Wired, news-oriented community sites like Slashdot, and personal weblogs. (source XML.com)

RSS (n) Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a lightweight XML format designed for sharing headlines and other Web content. (source WebReference)

RSS (n) Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is an XML-based format for content distribution (source CNET)

RSS (n) RSS is an XML-based format for syndicated content. (source IBM)

RSS (n) RSS is an acronym for Rich Site Summary, an XML format for distributing news headlines on the Web, also known as syndication. First started by Netscape as part of the My Netscape site, it expanded through Dave Winer and Userland. RSS started off in an RDF format. (source newsmonster)

12/24/2008

Worst SEO Mistakes

Worst SEO Mistakes

By: Ivan Strouchliak


In this article we cover some of the worst SEO mistakes. Some of these will cause the search engines to ignore you; others will cause potential visitors to ignore you; still others may make your site disappear from the search engine results pages entirely. We'll go over each practice and explain why you shouldn't do it. We'll even tell you what you should be doing.
Flash

If you're making a new website and thinking of using Flash - stop. Though Adobe made Flash crawlable and shared technology with Google and Yahoo (leaving out Microsoft), Flash is still a bad choice.

If you don't show much content to the search engines, you will have to invest more in links. Not only does a Flash site cost more to make, but you'll need more money to optimize it. If there is no real reason to use Flash, don't. If you want cool movies and features, consider embedding Flash videos and using cool CSS styles.

No Use of Title Tags

"The most powerful HTML tag you have at your disposal" ­- Ross Jones, Search Engine Ranking Factors. Put keywords you target the page for into the tag. This is the part that shows up in search results as a big blue link, so make it count.

Another mistake webmasters make is to put something like "Welcome To...." in the title tag. Aaron Wall calls this "Welcome to low rankings."

Title Tag Duplication

Many designers create a site design without much regard for SEO, using one title tag for an entire website. Make sure to vary the title tags on your pages.

Messed up Robots.txt

It's a good idea to have a file to keep your error log clean of robot.txt requests, but if you can mess up a lot if you use it incorrectly. Here's how it looks, assuming you don't want to block ANY pages:

Not Using Keywords in Internal Links and Navigation

Your internal onsite links have as much SEO weight as some outside links. If your home page has link authority, then links from your home page to internal pages pass pagerank in the same manner as outside sites pass pagerank to your home page.

By linking from your most powerful pages to internal pages with keyword-rich links, you're doing exactly the same thing as getting keyword-rich inbound links from high PR pages.

To make the most use of link power, make sure that your navigation consists of keyword-rich, targeted descriptions. Do the same with keywords scattered within content. Don't worry about your footer; Google doesn't put much weight on those.

Aggressive Search Engine Optimization Firms

Aggressive may mean effective. All effective SEO firms buy links, meaning that most good SEOs are official black hats. Are you okay with the risks? Many effective firms actively use spam and other black hat methods to promote their clients. Greedy ones get burned. Those who are smart watch carefully and know when to pull back -- because there is no safety net.

You should know if your SEO firm does black hat up front. Rewards are great, but so are the risks.

Automated Content Generation

Automated content generation involves a bot scraping the net, mixing articles and producing low value pages camouflaged as a web site. It's often part of the link farm an AdSense site.

Duplicate content detection has improved to the point that search engines will know in no time if you're spamming.

Frames

This is not spam, but a bad mistake, like building a Flash-based web site. Frames are hard to crawl for spiders; they have no unique URLs to link to and are horrible from a usability perspective. Sites that use frames lose on all fronts.

Cloaking

Cloaking still works if done correctly. Some good SEOs still use cloaking, but if you're new, stay away from it. Cloaking presents a normal page to visitors but a super-optimized page to search engine spiders.

Hidden Text

Hidden text involves stuffing keywords onto a page and making keywords the same color as the background. This is an absolutely pointless technique since search engines discount pages if they see keyword stuffing.

If you put legitimate text or an optimized article on your site as hidden text, just to make page look shorter, it still doesn't make sense. There are CSS "hide/show" tricks that can conceal text while being search engine friendly.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing involves putting a bunch of keywords on a page simply to get higher rankings. It's pointless. Search engines can tell when you're using too many keywords for natural content, and your visitors will find keyword-stuffed content to be difficult to read.

Doorway Pages

Doorway pages are one-page websites optimized for a specific keyword and made with one purpose - to rank in the search results. All links on the "doorway" page lead to the real website, essentially acting as an entrance, hence the name "doorway page." Search engine do not like doorway pages, but they still work.

Alt Tag Stuffing

ALT tags are designed for blind people. Alt tags should describe images, buttons, navigation and other site elements to make browsing easier for those who can't see. Some people stuff their keywords into ALT tags, in hopes of ranking better in search results. This doesn't work. If spotted, you'll be punished.

On top of being ineffective, it's a real hassle for blind people who have to listen to the BS webmasters stuff into these tags to manipulate search engines. Use alt tags for image descriptions, and don't worry about the keywords.

Comment Spam

There are several types of comment spam.

One type uses robots to put in generic BS comments and links back to their owner's site in hopes of getting more valuable inbound links. Google discovered this and doesn't count comment links anymore. Bloggers also use the nofollow tag, so it doesn't matter if there are links in comments.

Another way to spam comments is to leave generic comments like "I did an article about this too, come check it out" in hopes of driving traffic and subscriptions.

Blog comments are designed for discussion, so saying something useful without intent to get something back plays a lot better in the long term. You get respect and eventually the blogger becomes more interested in you. Then you get your link.

Forum Spam

Forum spam involves leaving forum messages disguised as editorials, but are nothing more than ads for a website.

This type of spam looks really nasty and irritates all forum users. Don't do it. If you want to drive visitors from forums, participate in discussions, offer advice and help everyone. You will gain respect and people will visit your site from the signature. This time however, instead of saying "who the hell is that guy?!" they will land on the home page wit the thought of "that guy is good, let's see what he's built here."

Reliance on Meta Tags

Meta tag's days are over. Keyword meta tags do not work. I wouldn't bother spending more than few minutes on keyword meta tags. The description meta tag, on the other hand, is very useful. It is the description that shows in search results, so make sure there are clear calls to action.

Submission to a Bunch of Social Media Sites

You've probably seen those one-vote articles sitting in no-man's-land with headlines like "New marketing methods" and "Super interactive website www.spamsite.com" Those are attempts by marketers to get diggs, reddits and other types of votes. Social media marketing is a craft of its own, and a link to a generic site doesn't do it. You can learn a great deal about social media marketing over at Sphinn.

Long and Dynamic URLs

Some content management systems produce long URLs that search engine spiders do not like. Keep URLs short and sweet. There are plenty of content management systems that make search friendly URL stings. They include Joomla, WordPress, Drupal and more.

Some content management systems also produce dynamic URLs, which have different strings, but lead to the same place. Those are not friendly it terms of page rank, so make use of SEO-friendly CMSes (above).

JavaScript Links

Search engines have a hard time following JavaScript. Make your links classic (a href= ....) Though Google crawls JavaScript, it's better to be on the safe side.

Free for All Reciprocals

Link exchanges in general are not effective. Exchanging with a quality site is never bad, but getting 100 random reciprocals can get sites punished.

Free links exchanges are very easy for search engines to spot. Once detected, all participants can get banned. If you trade a lot of low quality links, your link profile may raise red flags.

Randomly Changing File Names

If you change a filename, you lose all the power from previous links. There's no point to doing this. If you feel like there's a need to make some changes, then leave the ranking pages as they are. It's hard to get links, and it's even harder to get quality links from good sites that have aged.

No Site map

A site map is a page that has links to all other pages of your site. It can guide search engines to pages which spiders would otherwise not discover. Make sure that your site features a site map; there are a number of guides available on the Internet that explain how to build one.

Creating Link Networks or Link Farms

Depending on how you do it, this can still work. Google places more value on authority, so creating link networks is not as effective as it used to be. If you do create a link farm, make sure that:

Sites are on different servers, preferably in different countries.

Sites have different WHOIS data and ownership.

Sites have many outside links apart from those within the network.

Include several older domains, since a network of new domains looks very spam-like.

Given how much work is involved to hide the nature of the link network or link farm, you have to seriously question whether it's worth it, even if it does fly under the search engines' radar.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content involves use of the same content on more than one page or plagiarizing from other sites. Search engines are very good at detecting this, so once spotted, expect to be banned. You can also use CopyScape to find out if anyone stole your articles.

10/04/2008

What is RSS? from Writers Weeekly.com

What is RSS?

Page for Feed Validation: http://feedvalidator.org/

RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication. In essence, it is format for a special file on a Web site that has all the latest updates to the site in it. The URL to that file is know as an RSS Feed.

By using a special piece of software called a Feed Reader, you can monitor this file and get notified instantly when a new information gets added to the site.

You may be thinking, "You already send me an email every Wednesday with all your new stuff. Why would I want to use an RSS feed?" Well, we are advocating that you unsubscribe from the newsletter and switch to the RSS feed. There are three good reasons to do this:

1.) The Rise of Spam and Spam Filters - There is so much spam out there now that everyone is using spam filters to try and curb to tide of junk mail. These filters are basically a set of complex rules against which computers compare each incoming email. Because it is ultimately a computerized system, and spammers are devising more and more sophisticated ways to beat these systems, lots of legitimate email gets caught. WritersWeekly.com went from literally zero complaints a few years ago to about 50 complaints a week now from subscribers to our newsletter who can no longer receive it. And when we traced the problem back, 100% of the time is it because our newsletter is getting mislabeled as spam. There seems to be no solution to the spam filter problem other than to communicate with these subscribers in a way that doesn't involve email.

2.) RSS is Instant - Your Feed Reader software monitors the RSS feeds you specify silently in the background. When we update the site, the RSS feed is instantaneously updated as well. That means your Feed Reader software knows about it instantly too and can alert you. No more having to check your email or the Web site for the latest information.

3.) Information in RSS Format is Compact - Since we only send a link and summary of each piece of new information through the RSS feed, you can just access just the information you are interested in. It is a lot faster than opening your Web browser or email program and wading through all the extraneous stuff.

4.) Unsubscribe With Ease - Don't want to subscribe anymore? Or want to stop things temporarily? Delete the feed from your Feed Reader and it is gone. No messages piling up while you are on vacation. No more complicated email commands to get off a list.

How Do I Get a Feed Reader?

There are lots of different Feed Readers, most of them free. Here are some we recommend:

For Windows - FeedReader

For Mac - NetNewsWireLite (scroll to bottom to get the free version)

For Linux - Liferea

Web-based Reader - Bloglines (This is a Web site that you register with to read the feeds. Works with any operating system. Registration is free.)

You can also read feeds through MyYahoo. Log in, then click on "add content" at the bottom of the page, then click on "Add RSS by URL" next to the "find" button. Then enter this URL: http://www.writersweekly.com/index.xml

If you like to explore new software, here is a comprehensive list of Feed Readers for Windows and Mac.

Where Can I Get RSS Feeds from Other Sites?

We're developing a comprehesive list of feeds, but for now we recommend these places to find new feeds:

http://www.rootblog.com/

http://www.2rss.com/

http://www.feedster.com/

http://www.technorati.com/

10/03/2008

How to get RSS right

RSS is an essential part of growing a blog's audience, and most get the fundamentals right. Some, however, don't exactly embrace RSS as a medium - and occasionally those who do offer some limited, broken feed that simply isn't worth subscribing to. Here are some pointers to keep your syndication on track.

Offer full feeds

If you're not fully au fait with RSS yourself, you might not appreciate this one - but trust me, there's nothing more annoying than reading an article in your aggregator then have it suddenly come to a halt. Full feeds are better, and will help encourage readers to subscribe. If you're worried about lost ad revenue, don't be - services such as FeedBurner and Feedvertising can be used to keep the money rolling in, whilst you keep your loyal subscribers happy.

Avoid amendments to feed items once they're posted

Some RSS aggregators will show a feed item as new for every spelling correction, alteration or amendment to a post - particularly so if you have full feeds. Whilst I abhor bad spelling, try to minimise the corrections you make (proof reading before publishing can do wonders!), and you'll avoid losing subscribers when the same post comes up 12 times in a row with indiscernible differences. If you do update a post, it's best done clearly marked with an 'UPDATE:' at the bottom.

google_ad_client = "pub-1728235489150363"; google_ad_width = 200; google_ad_height = 200; google_ad_format = "200x200_as"; google_ad_type = "text_image"; google_ad_channel = "7340008063"; google_color_border = "FFFFFF"; google_color_bg = "FFFFFF"; google_color_link = "783853"; google_color_text = "000000"; google_color_url = "aaaaaa";
window.google_render_ad();

Don't hide the link to your feeds

If your feed isn't linked via a tag in your header, most web browsers won't pick up on your feeds - and if you hide the link to your feeds away at the bottom of the page, or partway down some obscure column, there's a good chance a potential subscriber won't find your feed at all. Make sure it's obvious - but bigger isn't necessarily better.

Don't post too often

Never posting any new content is bad enough, but posting too much? Even worse. If subscribers can't keep up, they'll unsubscribe very quickly indeed. Split your feeds up if you find this is the case, or simply relax the rate at which you post. Anything more than 20 a day is excessive, and most folk would probably prefer a lot less from most blogs.

Give your readers a good reason to subscribe

I'd hate to labour a point, but it's worth reiterating. You can get everything spot on (technically) with your RSS feeds and still drive away potential subscribers, while other sites with terribly implemented feeds can attract thousands. The real secret to getting a strong RSS readership is to write great content - get the technical details right, though, and you can help keep your subscribers happy.

What is RSS?

What is RSS?

If you’re new to RSS and need an introduction to help you get started, then this tutorial is a good place to learn some basics. You will also learn how to subscribe to the feeds on loadaverageZero so you can find out what’s new around here without having to keep coming back to the site until you want to. That, in a nutshell, is what RSS feeds are all about: Let the information come to you instead of actively searching for it.

Contents

What is RSS?
What are those strange little orange buttons?
What is a News Reader?
What is a News Aggregator Site?
Can I access RSS feeds from my Browser?
What is Auto Discovery?
What is Atom?
RSS Feeds on loadaverageZero
Conclusion and Additional Resources
What is RSS?RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site

In summary, and like a magazine or newspaper, it’s a way to supply you with a list of current news items in a brief format so you can scan headlines and choose the items that interest you most. All without visiting the Web sites that publish them. That is, until you want to read the entire article. To do this you just click on the headline like any normal link on a Web site.

Since news headlines come to you instead of the other way around, RSS is referred to as content distribution or syndication.

What are those strange little orange buttons?You will often see that a site has RSS content, or a feed (sometimes called a channel), when you notice a small button (usually an orange color) with the acronym XML or RSS on it. Like this: . The reason you see these XML buttons is because that is the file format that RSS is delivered in, much like Web pages are written in HTML.

The orange buttons (or chicklets) are becoming less common however, often times RSS feeds appear as an option on a menu, and some browsers will have a special way of indicating that the site you are visiting has RSS feeds.

However, many browsers are not equipped to handle RSS feeds in this raw XML format. You may have already run across this if you ever clicked on an RSS link and were surprised by a bunch of computer source code instead of a Web page. Or the browser might even have asked you to download the page because it didn’t know what else to do with it. What you really need is a way of rendering that code into a readable form.

What is a News Reader?

There are many ways to read news feeds. There are dedicated programs called News Readers, many of them free, that are designed to do this. Have a look at these Reviews if you’d like to learn more about downloading and installing one. Note that many people use the terms news Reader and news Aggregator interchangeably. To avoid any confusion, in my view a reader is a program that runs on your computer (sometimes called desktop software), and an aggregator is an online service. The results are pretty much the same—once you’ve subscribed to some feeds, you can browse a list of the latest stories and select the ones you like. Notice I said latest Items in a feed are always displayed with the most recent ones listed first.

What is a News Aggregator Site?

Another approach is to use an online service, called an News Aggregator, which are also free for the most part. This list of Online Aggregators will help you get started. If you are a member of Yahoo! or MSN, you can also subscribe to and access RSS feeds right from your personal page. More information about popular aggregator services can be found further down on this page.

Can I access RSS feeds from my Browser?Some browsers, such as Firefox, have plugin programs that allow you to read RSS feeds from right inside the browser. Sage is one such extension, and it is so simple to install and use, that if you’re just getting started with RSS consider giving it a try. This screenshot will show you what Sage looks like running inside Firefox.

Another handy extension for Firefox is Feedview, which allows you to preview almost any RSS feed without having to subscribe to it first. All you have to do is click on one of those RSS links. Other browsers, such as Safari for Mac, and Opera (which runs on many platforms), have support for reading news feeds already built in, so there’s no need to install anything.
What is Auto Discovery?Many sites, including this one, contain special links to news feeds embedded in the source code of the Web site. This is how a browser is able to determine that a site has feeds, and will usually indicate this through an icon appearing on the browser when you visit such a page. Firefox, for instance, displays a a special icon on the status bar located at the very bottom of the browser:

Note: It is quite possible that the icon will not look exactly like this with your copy of Firefox, depending on what operating system you are using, any theme (or skin) you may have installed, the browser version, and so forth. The easiest way to find out what these things do is to simply hover your mouse cursor over them.

Note: The Microsoft RSS development team recently announced that IE version 7 (due out in 2006) will use this same icon to represent RSS feeds. This is good news for all users, since it represents the beginnings of a consistent method of indicating news feeds—making it quicker and easier to determine if a site has RSS content regardless of which browser you use! Soon afterwards, Opera followed suit.

Many news readers and aggregators can also take advantage of auto-discovery. If you want to subscribe to a feed for a particular site and don’t know the address to the feed resource itself, often you can simply enter the address of the Web page and the program will automatically find the feed (or feeds) for you. Just copy the address of the site and paste it into the reader’s input box.

What is Atom?

You may have heard about something called Atom and wondered what it is and how it relates to RSS. Atom is just a newer feed format, one that is becoming more popular. As a subscriber this isn’t something you need to worry about. Most modern software can cope with the different versions of RSS as well as Atom. The results are basically the same.

RSS Feeds on loadaverageZeroThere are a number of RSS feeds on loadaverageZero. There is one for new posts to my blog, aptly named blogZero, another for Recent Additions to my list of Web resources called drx, and a third for News and Announcements relating to this Web site. If you look in the left menu area, just below the last menu item (which is highlighted because you are visiting this page), there are three pairs of small buttons. Just as in the example status bar icon, the first of these in each row is a link to the raw XML RSS feed, which you can use to import directy into you feed reader or aggregator. The second, larger, button is a link to the same feed via FeedBurner which allows you to both preview the feed in your browser and/or subscribe to it with your preferred RSS reader/aggregator. Notice that these buttons are designed to be easy to spot, as they are miniature versions of the logos that correspond to each of the features of this Web site that have distributed content. Yet another method of previewing headlines from these feeds to visit the dnews interface where you can simply pick them out from the Channel Selector.

Opposite the loadaverageZero feed buttons, in the right margin, is a vertical list of icons that you can also use to access my feeds. I have placed a red border around them temporarily so you can find them easily. The first one is just another way of accessing Recent Additions to drx, and the rest are pre-configured links to feed aggregator sites starting with FeedBurner (note that selecting this link will give you a nice preview of the feed), followed by NewsGator, NewsIsFree, Bloglines, Pluck and Rojo. The next one in the list is another preview via Kinja, and it will display a combination of all of my feeds (hence the term “aggregator”). After this is an icon that will work if you are using a Mac (notice it looks like the Mac logo), followed by a subscription link designed for My Yahoo! and another for MSN. For either of the last two icon subscription links to work, you need to have an account already created. If you don’t, it’s easy, and free, to do so.

Feed Icons

Here are those feed icons and aggregator links again so you don’t have keep jumping all over the page:

Recent Additions

FeedBurner: drx Recent Additions (with preview)
FeedBurner: loadaverageZero (with preview)
FeedBurner: blogZero (with preview)
NewsGator
NewsIsFree
Bloglines
Pluck
Rojo
Kinja
Mac
Yahoo!
MSN

Conclusion

There are many other RSS feed aggregator sites. The ones I created links to are popular, and also well designed and easy to use. In fact, I have accounts on all of them. I did this in order to make sure they provide quality services.

I understand that when you first get started using RSS, it may seem to be a bit of a mystery. Or, you may be thinking “How will using RSS improve my overall Web experience?” I think that once you get over the hurdle of using RSS feeds this will become readily apparent. If you still have questions about the RSS feeds on loadaverageZero (and in general), feel free to Contact Me. You can also visit the loadaverageZero Discussion Forums where there are 4 Comments on this article.

Additional Resources

For more advanced users, developers and programmers, drx contains a large list of RSS Resources. Of particular note are Michael Fagan’s All About RSS (which includes a glossary of terms) and Mark Nottingham’s excellent RSS Tutorial. For further details on RSS and related topics, Wikipedia is an outstanding source of information:

Aggregator
Atom
OPML
RSS
XML

Enjoy reading your RSS News feeds!

—Douglas Clifton
Last updated: Sunday, March 19th, 2006 @ 12:26 AM EST [2006-03-19T05:26:37Z]

1/02/2008

The Basics of RSS

By Werner Schamberger (c) 2007


What is RSS?

You probably have seen this three-letter acronym in the course of your internet surfing. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary; syndicating means republishing an article that comes from another source such as a website. A RSS feed is a means of publicizing updates about websites. It may or may not include a summary and photos of the latest posting. But those that provide summaries (thus Rich Site Summary) allow users to skim through the article so that they can decide later on if they want to access the website source. The RSS feed usually contains the title of the update originating from the website. It is also usually the link to the website source.

What are the Benefits of RSS?

RSS provides benefits to both readers (users) and web publishers.

1. It gives you the latest updates. Whether it is about the weather, new music, software upgrade, local news, or a new posting from a rarely-updated site, you can learn about the latest as soon as it comes out.

2. It saves on surfing time. Since an RSS feed provides a summary of the related article, it saves the user's time by helping s/he decide on which items to prioritize when reading or browsing the net.

3. It gives the power of subscription to the user. Users are given a free-hand on which websites to subscribe to in their RSS aggregators which they can change at any time they decide differently.

4. It lessens the clutter in your inbox. Although your email address will be required to enjoy the services of online RSS aggregators, RSS does not use your email address to send the updates.

5. It is sp@m free. Unlike email subscriptions, RSS does not make use of your email address to send updates thus your privacy is kept safe from sp@m mails.

6. Unsubscribing is hassle-free. Unlike email subscriptions where the user is asked questions on why s/he is unsubscribing and then the user is asked to confirm unsubscribing, all you have to do is to delete the RSS feed from your aggregator.

7. It can be used as an advertising or marketing tool. Users who subscribe to or syndicate product websites receive the latest news on products and services without the website sending sp@m mail. This is advantageous to both the web user and the website owner since advertising becomes targeted; those who are actually interested in their products are kept posted.

What are the Drawbacks of RSS?

The disadvantages of RSS stem from user-preference concerns and the fact that it is a new technology.

1. Some users prefer receiving email updates over an RSS feed.

2. Graphics and photos do not appear in all RSS feeds. For conciseness and ease of publication, RSS feeds do not display the photos from the original site in announcing the update except for some web-based aggregators.

3. The identity of the source website can be confusing. Since RSS feeds do not display the actual URL or name of the website, it can sometimes get confusing on what feed a user is actually reading.

4. Publishers cannot determine how many users are subscribed to their feed and the frequency of their visits. Moreover, they do not know the reasons why users unsubscribe which could be important in improving their advertising.

5. RSS feeds create higher traffic and demands on the server. Most readers still prefer the whole update over a brief summary of the entry, thus they still access the site.

6. Since it is a new technology, many sites still do not support RSS.

How Do I Start Using RSS?

There are two things needed: an RSS feed and an RSS aggregator or reader. The RSS feed comes from an RSS-supported website. There are also websites that provide a directory of RSS feeds from different websites. An RSS aggregator is used to read the RSS feed from the source website. It scans and collects data on the latest RSS feeds from the worldwide web.

An aggregator comes in two forms: a downloadable program, also known as a desktop aggregator, and an online or web-based aggregator. Downloadable aggregators may require payment before they can be acquired, while internet-based aggregators are usually free. All you need to do is to register an account and you are ready to use their services. Both versions allow you to customize, or choose, which RSS feeds to enter. Paid aggregators are usually chosen by more experienced users and they usually allow more freedom in customizing feeds.

Editor's Note: A selection of top RSS Desktop Aggregators can be found at:

About.com
or
RSS-Specifications.com

1. Choose an RSS aggregator to use. For beginners, web-based aggregators are recommended since they are usually user-friendly.

2. Scan the homepage of your target website for the RSS or XML button. It contains the RSS code you need to enter in the aggregator. Copy this code. Syndic8 provides a directory of websites that support RSS.

3. Paste the code (which contains the URL of the website) in your aggregator. There is a space provided for pasting the code.

After you have done these three easy steps, you can start reading the RSS feeds coming from the website. New postings appear as they are published in real time at the source website.

RSS and Internet Marketing

The original idea of RSS came from Netscape, where the intention was to provide a means for users to customize their personal homepages with links to websites that were of interest to them, similar to bookmarking websites.

The application of RSS to internet marketing was an unforeseen development to RSS technology developers. Since users are given the freedom to add RSS feeds to their aggregators, those who are interested in particular products and services available on the internet can now be notified real time. Marketing becomes more specific to interested people and not a hit-and-miss operation.

Medium to big-scale companies who intend to use RSS for marketing their products and services should consider linking up with email account providers, (e.g. Yahoo, MSN, Google mail); networking websites (e.g. Friendster, Multiply, My Space, Hi5); websites of newspapers and television network websites (e.g. New York Times, CNN). Smaller companies can also look at networking websites as well as personal blog websites (e.g. Blogspot) and websites of clubs and organizations that would probably make use of their products or services e.g. a fishing supplies store can look for the website of their local fishing club for possible RSS marketing.

Clearly, RSS is an innovation in worldwide web information management as well as online marketíng. We can expect better RSS technology in the not-so-distant future as its popularity increases among users and website owners alike.

About The Author

Werner Schamberger is CEO of Homework Online and Best Articles Online. He is an entrepreneur and author.