Just what is an RSS Feed?
You may be one of those people have seen those little symbols for RSS and XML “feeds” during your Web surfing, probably without really understanding what they mean. They are however, very important for promoting news and blogs. RSS feeds are a highly effective means of distributing online content, creating and attracting a much bigger readership than just the individuals that happen to browse the website
Some of the very successful companies that regularly use RSS feeds are Amazon.com, BBC News, USATODAY.com, CNET and Yahoo! At the other end of the scale, countless numbers of bloggers, video bloggers and podcasters also use the technology.
These feeds allow individuals to subscribe for regular updates from a multitude of sites, which are then automatically delivered to them through a news reader, a web portal, or sometimes simply via emails. By clicking on the little RSS icon and subscribing to the updated feeds, a user can regularly watch, listen or read the latest developments on their favorite sites with the use of a “feed reader,” software that collects syndicated web content, including news headlines, video blogs and text blogs, all in one convenient location for ease of viewing. This is instead of the time consuming job of going out to visit different sites manually; RSS feeds bring automatic updates from favorite websites in, aggregating them all in one, neat place.
RSS feeds from a website can be enhanced with a free service from Google called “FeedBurner” (URL: www.feedburner.com). This gives statistics about how many RSS subscribers a site has attracted, allows subscribers to receive their updates in multiple ways, such as e-mail or feed readers, and permits site managers to customize their feeds with functions such as “modify,” branding, post headings and so on. FeedBurner can also be integrated with Google AdSense, so that website managers can monetize their RSS feeds.
Setting up a FeedBurner URL
A Feedburner URL adds any new content that you publish on your main site into a URL that feeds people’s RSS readers. Setting up a FeedBurner URL is simple. Just go to the FeedBurner website and click “Sign In” to access your Google account – if you do not already have a Google account you will need to create one. On the FeedBurner welcome page, two options appear – claim existing RSS feeds to FeedBurner, or “Burn a feed right this instant.” The latter requires a blog or feed URL to be pasted into the box. Click “Next” and keep the pre-selected option “RSS.2.0 source.” Click “Next” again and confirm that the blog title and FeedBurner address are correct.
The next page is titled “Congrats!” Just click “Next” and the stats configuration page appears, where a series of additional FeedBurner services can be set up. Select the options “Clickthroughs” and “I want more!” before clicking “Next.”
The RSS icon and easy subscription options can now be added to your site or blog by clicking “Next” and selecting “Publicize” then “Chicklet chooser” (a chicklet is an RSS icon). Select the HTML code in the box beneath the heading, “Copy the HTML below for use in your own page templates.” The blog dashboard appears on the page – select “Appearance,” then “Widgets” and click on the “Left” or “Right” sidebar option according to preference. Add the “Text Widget” from “Available widgets” by dragging it from the side of the page and dropping it into the selected sidebar. The widget will open automatically. Now simply paste the HTML copied from FeedBurner, click “Save” and then “Close.”
Finally, in the blog dashboard, go to “Settings” and select “Feedburner,” and add your FeedBurner address. As soon as you click “Save changes,” all feeds will be passed through FeedBurner giving you accurate, up-to-the-minute stats on subscriber numbers.