In case you missed it, there’s been some talk lately about whether or not RSS is dead. You may be wondering exactly what RSS is — RSS stands for Really Simply Syndication (sometimes just called a feed) and it’s a method for one website to send out it’s content in a way that other websites and programs can easily read. RSS feeds make it really easy for people to subscribe to your website and get updates via email or RSS readers (such as Google Reader or iGoogle). Whether or not RSS is used directly by people, RSS is still important for your business because it used behind the scenes by many websites, applications and social networks vital to your online presence.
Many search engines use RSS feeds in order to be able to keep track of when your site (or blog) updates. Post a blog entry and it probably shows up within a couple of hours. While Google does have crawlers out there looking for new content, it’s the RSS feed sent out by your website which makes it easier for Google (and other search engines) to pick up your content more quickly.
RSS feeds for eCommerce sites are especially crucial for having your products show up in product-specific searches and search engines.
Do you have your blog automatically post to Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? You’re using your RSS feed to update those sites so they know when to post (and what to post). RSS feeds are an important way to distribute your content and make it available to a much wider audience automatically.
Have any Google Alerts setup for monitoring mentions of your product, company or name? (If not, you should.) Yup, RSS feeds. Even if you’re having alerts sent to your email, in the background there’s probably an RSS feed kicking off the process.
Customers & Readers
Even your customers and readers may use RSS feeds and not realize it if they subscribe to your blog or website and get updates by email or in a reader program (they may not realize its a RSS reader). If you have an email signature that sends out a link to your latest post, that’s using RSS. If you’re using a widget to show your latest blog posts on your company website, you may also be using RSS.
RSS is Behind the Scenes
While many people may not know what RSS is, they’re probably using it in some way even if it’s hidden in the background. RSS is vital for your business to distribute content to a wider audience (automatically!). And since RSS is included in many blogging and content management systems, you may already have RSS on your site and not even know.
How do you use RSS for your business? (or how do you think you may?)
(photo by Hot Flashes)