Monthly Archives: February 2013

THE ADVANTAGES OF “RSS WEBSITES”

RSS – or what is now known as “Really Simple Syndication” – is a file format that is incorporated by Internet users in their websites to allow for ‘web syndication’, making their web content available in a format that can be universally understood by other people.

In essence, RSS is a ‘mini database’ that contains headlines and descriptions (a summary or a line or two of the full article) of your web content, including hyperlinks that enable users to link back to the full article of their choice.

RSS websites – that is, websites that contain RSS ‘feeds’ (articles or postings) – typically have colorful graphics to indicate to users that the specific web content is available through RSS feeds. These graphics are usually depicted by orange rectangles that are usually marked with ‘RSS’ or ‘XML’.

With its increased popularity, RSS is now being adopted and used by more website owners or publishers. Today, numerous resources are now available that aid Internet surfers (and even beginners as well) on how to set up and use RSS.

Setting up RSS feeds and adding them to your website can be a simple process that does not involve a lot of time or any money. Listed below are some simple and basic steps that you might want to follow:

1. Have your web content and/or news in an RSS feed format, such as XML (appropriate and ‘ready-made’ feeds are also available from other sources).

2. Click the orange graphic – this is the RSS feed icon. Take note of the URL of the RSS feed; this will be displayed in the address bar (for Internet Explorer).

3. Input the feed URL on your RSS feed creation program.

4. Click on the “Generate Feed” button. This will generate the RSS code for your web content.

5. Enter the RSS code in the appropriate place on your own website.

Having created an RSS feed for your website, next comes the task of publishing your web content and news and having them displayed on other sites and headline viewers. This is made possible with the use of RSS readers or aggregators.

RSS readers or news aggregators are used to view particular web contents. RSS readers contain the collection of ‘feeds’ or RSS files from content providers, and they are generally classified into 3 types:

Desktop RSS readers – also known as standalone desktop application, they generally ‘run’ in the background and are similar to an e-mail client, collecting the feeds and refreshing items automatically as they are updated.

Web-based aggregators – these are online services that enable users to personalize web pages, refreshing them each time the page is accessed or each time a person logs in to the service.

Plug-in aggregators/readers – these make use of either web browsers or e-mail clients, which allow users to view RSS feeds while inside an existing program.

Having an RSS-enabled website provides Internet users (especially those who are website owners) with the following benefits:

Allows users to generate up-to-date news and postings, as information and content in the RSS readers or aggregators are automatically updated each time the RSS feed is ‘refreshed’.

Allows users to have control over the information that they wish to view or receive, as they can remove a feed of their choosing any time they want to.

Aside from these benefits, RSS websites are also useful for people who conduct their business in the Internet, particularly in Internet or Online Marketing. RSS can be an effective marketing tool for your website, especially in the following fields:

E-mail marketing and publishing

Search engine marketing and optimization

Business blogging

Internet advertising

Digital public relations

Branding and e-commerce

In addition, RSS can ‘power’ your website, providing you with the following:

Valuable, updated, and relevant resources for site visitors and potential clients – RSS is ideal for websites that contain (and syndicate) a lot of information that has to be changed or updated regularly.

Search engine optimization for the website.

Increased traffic for the website – your website can ‘harvest’ and display information from other sites, driving more traffic to your own website.

A wide selection of ‘channels’ for content distribution, such as PDA’s, cellular phones, voice mails, and email ticklers.

A reliable way to have your web content delivered to Internet users and potential clients – RSS ensures that your site is viewed by the people who are interested in them, without having them blocked and ‘cleaned’ by ISPs or Spam filters.

These are just some of the advantages that RSS can give your website (and your business). The possibilities are endless, as more and more comes up almost everyday. Do not be left behind – take the advantage of the marketing and publishing power of RSS.

Reading RSS Feeds with an RSS Aggregator

RSS or Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary is the latest information management tool that is gradually earning popularity among web users and website owners. With RSS technology, it is possible to get the latest postings from your favorite websites. But clicking on the RSS or XML button in a homepage is not enough to give you the service you need. An RSS feed or code displayed in the pop-up screen if not on the main page is composed of symbols and words that would only make sense to advanced RSS users and computer programmers and software enthusiasts. Another software tool called an RSS aggregator or reader is needed.

An aggregator works by scanning the worldwide web with latest postings based on the RSS code (containing the website’s URL) provided or added by the user. When it finds a new posting, news, or update, it will publish the RSS feed on your home page containing the title of the posting, which also serves as a clickable link to the website source. This RSS feed may or may not contain the whole article, a summary, and photos, depending on what RSS aggregator you are using.

Aggregators come in two types: the downloadable program or desktop-type and the online or web-based type. The desktop aggregator usually charges a certain amount for its services; this would include regular updating in the form of upgrades or patches to the original version. This type of RSS reader allows more customization of RSS feeds as well as page format or design over its on-line counterparts. But of course, price can be a drawback.

On-line or web-based aggregators are free of charge. All you need to do is register an account with them then you can start enjoying their services. Depending on the “brand” of the aggregator, customization is more limited. Some even do not allow you to customize at all.

Product and service advertisers are realizing the potential of RSS aggregators in internet marketing. In fact, several submit RSS codes to several popular web-based aggregators to reach the growing technophile and internet-based market. My Yahoo has been instrumental in popularizing RSS technology to both users and website owners and advertisers.

At present, there are many aggregators to choose from and newer versions of the same aggregator are constantly developed by its programmers.

Below are some of these desktop and online aggregators:

Desktop Aggregators

1.AmphetaDesk

Advantages:

-free

-supports Linux, Mac, and Windows

-easy addition of RSS feeds

Disadvantages:

-not maximized use of screen display

-few options for customizing

2.FeedDemon

Advantages:

-user friendly

-free trial version

-contains prepared popular feeds

-allows filtering of RSS feeds

-configurable “watch list” to manage junk RSS feeds

-search channel feature that incorporates other RSS services e.g. Feedster

-allows feed storage for future use

-tabbed browsers for channel navigation

-built-in podcast receiver

Disadvantages:

-supports only Internet Explorer (embedded)

-paid software (`$29.95)

Online Aggregators

1.Bloglines

Advantages:

-all major browsers supported (e.g. Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, Firefox)

-user-friendly especially for beginners

-free, web-based aggregator

-easy registration

-no advertisements

-contains its own directory of RSS feeds of thousands of websites

-personal email account for subscribing to newsletter emails (optional)

-allows privacy adjustments for personal blogs

-allows saved searches

-mobile version available

-10 languages supported

-Additional add-on tools for automated blogrolls and subscription buttons

2.NewsGator

Advantages:

-free (consumer-standard version)

-provides personalized news channel

-allows translation of RSS articles into email format

-synchronization of feeds in several devices possible

-browse and search feed capabilities save time on surfing

-allows keyword filtering

-blog headlines

-button-click automatic subscription to news feeds

Disadvantage:

-Outlook-based thus limited to Windows

3.My Yahoo

Advantages:

-Free web-based aggregator

-user-friendly

-customizable home page design

-button-click subscription to RSS feeds

-built-in directory and search tool for feeds

-wide variety of feeds e.g. news (science, technology, local), weather

-connects to all Yahoo features and services

Disadvantage

-banner advertisements

There are also lightweight RSS aggregator extensions which are actually plug-ins to existing internet browsers. An example of which is Sage aggregator.

Advantages:

-free of charge

-beginner-friendly

-reeds both RSS and Atom feeds

-allows feed discovery

-can be assimilated to Firefox bookmark (storage and live)

-allows OPML feed lists imports and exports

-customizable style sheets

-supports a wide range of locales e.g. Catalan, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Polish, Slovenian, etc.

-easy installation

Disadvantages:

-good for about 12 RSS feeds

-limited use to Mozilla-Firefox and Mozilla-Firefox supported browsers

RSS developers promise better features in future versions of their aggregators. Microsoft is planning to include a built-in aggregator in their next Windows version. These developments are definitely something to look forward to by all internet aficionados.