Many people I talk to don’t know what RSS is and so they’re confused about how it might be important for their business. RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication, and is sometimes just called a feed, is a way for one website to send out it’s content in a way that other websites and programs can easily read. Most people are actually already using feeds, they’re just not aware of it.
You’re probably already using RSS…
Do you have your blog or website content post to Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? That’s done using RSS feeds. Do you use Ping.fm to update multiple social networks? Feeds. How about Friendster? Yup. Subscribe to blogs? You’re subscribing to their feeds. Download podcasts? Done with feeds. Much of the handling of feeds is done automatically by the websites and programs we use, so much so that you may not be aware that you’re already using them.
Why RSS feeds are important for your business
Having RSS feeds for all the content you update regularly is important so that it can be distributed as widely as possible. Feeds make it easy to re-purpose content where ever you want. Have your Tweets show up on your website (using feeds). Send your blog to Facebook (using feeds). Whatever it may be, feeds send your content out to a much wider audience than is possible without feeds.
But I want everyone to read my content on my website…
Get over yourself. What’s important is that people actually read your content. If you refuse to use feeds because you want people to come to your website, you’re missing out on connecting with a larger audience. People who subscribe to your feeds are probably reading your content much more often than those that have to remember to come to your website. People will come to your website when they want to interact directly with you – or when they need information. Use feeds to build your reputation and get your message out there.
When you have feeds for your website content, you’re also making it easier for various search engines and crawlers to find your content and be updated when you add new content. Having search engines know when you have new content can help with your rankings.
How do I get a feed?
If you’re using blogging software such as WordPress or Blogger (and many others) you probably already have a feed. Most content management systems (CMS) also provide the ability to create feeds for content. You’ll have to check the support information for your software, or ask your webmaster, for more information on how your particular website can have a feed.
Checking for feeds
To see if you have a feed already, try to subscribe to your blog or website using MyYahoo or Google’s personalized webpage. You can also look for an RSS image in your browser (some support reading feeds in the browser), which may look like:
Do you already use RSS feeds for your business? How?
Additional Reading on RSS feeds:
- RSS – Syndicate Your Content
- 8 Places to Syndicate Your Business Content
- Set Your Content Free
- How to Find RSS Feeds on the Web (WikiHow)
- RSS: What it is, Where to get it, How to make it, How to use it (interleaves)
(photo by takomabibelot @ Flickr CC)