When users demand instant notification of company news and press releases, they no longer need to visit a website or wait for an email newsletter. The solution? RSS feeds.
First introduced in the late nineties, RSS is becoming more mainstream. RSS allows for the sending of a title, description, links, images, and other information to a subscriber’s computer the moment the information is available online. Users have access to constantly updating content delivered from websites via software specifically tailored to receive these types of feeds.
The acronym RSS most commonly stands for 'Really Simple Syndication', however it had different meanings with earlier versions of the format.
The information intended to be shared or syndicated is stored in an XML formatted file. The XML file - commonly referred to as a webfeed, RSS feed, RSS Stream, or RSS Channel - supplies content or summaries to the subscribers of the RSS feed, with links to full versions of the content.
RSS is most widely used for news syndication, blog syndication, and podcasting, using RSS to distribute audio / video files.
In order to view XML files or RSS feeds, the use of a feed reader or aggregator is necessary. A feed reader retrieves the syndicated content from the XML file and displays the content to the user. A feed reader can be a stand alone application (eg. RssReader); a program plug-in (eg. Attensa for Outlook); or a web based application (eg. Google Homepage). The information contained in the feed is pulled by the reader from the user, as opposed to being pushed by the user like email or instant messaging. In a stand alone feed reader or extension, an interval can be set to specify how frequently it should check the feed for updated content.
Websites offering RSS feeds will commonly have an orange rectangle reading XML ( ) or RSS ( ). A more current symbol, published by Firefox, is ( ). By clicking on the appropriate icon on a website, the feed is usually recognized by your RSS reader and added to your preferred list of feeds.
RSS For Business
RSS is growing in popularity with corporate websites, because there are some key benefits to using RSS as a marketing tool. RSS feeds are generally very small in file size and can therefore also be accessed on PDAs and cell phones. Another advantage to RSS is that subscribers opt-in to the content in which they are interested and are therefore in control of the information they receive. As RSS becomes more popular, companies will be able to design, create, and deploy less email-based newsletters, thus saving time and money.
The implications of this movement provide other conveniences, which include:
- No need to worry about information being filtered or blocked (as spam blockers can do to the more traditional email newsletter).
- No need to maintain lists of users or follow strict privacy guidelines.
- More accurate delivery of highly relevant content to users.
- Benefits that a simple competing website may not have.
Businesses are also using RSS to send news alerts, specials, sales and clearance items, upcoming events, new stock arrivals and other website updates. Many competing businesses are not yet offering this feature, so the use of RSS feeds also acts as a distinctive advantage by illustrating a company's initiative to keep up with technology.
RSS feeds also increase relevant inbound links to a site, positively affecting its ranking with search engines.
RSS will continue to gain popularity as it provides both businesses and consumers with many conveniences. 9th sphere can add an RSS Generator to a website's current content management system, which will automatically syndicate data in XML format for the purpose of RSS. This will allow users to start adding in-coming RSS feed to their aggregator to ensure instant delivery of crucial developments.
Learn more about adding RSS to your website.