We’ve all seen them . . . those little RSS icons (sometimes with text prompting you to subscribe). You may already have an RSS feed set up. You probably have subscribers and routinely submit your feed to directories. Using RSS feeds may already play be part of your link building efforts or (if you’re relatively new to blogging), you may be a little perplexed by the whole thing. Subscribing to an RSS feed can be pretty intimidating. So what the heck is this RSS stuff all about anyways?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. To me, an RSS feed is like a “TV Guide” for websites where you’ve filtered the content to focus on only those channels/websites that you’re interested in. One way to access RSS feeds is using an RSS reader such as Google Reader, NewsGator or BlogLines to view the feeds that you’ve subscribed to. (Feel free to click on the “Subscribe to this RSS Feed” link at the top of this page to get blog updates from me.) Your RSS reader will check your subscriptions for website feeds that have been updated and then deliver them to you in a format that you can easily monitor and read.
When I first wrote this article (back in 2010), I was still relatively new to blogging and I used Google Reader. Times have changed and I no longer routinely read RSS feeds. Back then, I was still seeking good content curators. I now am subscribed to a handful of RSS feeds that I have delivered right to my email but I also find myself reading online magazines created with Scoop.it and Summify. When I did use Google Reader, I had my Internet browser open to it when I launched it. That way, I could quickly check for updates throughout the day.
Below is a partial screenshot of what my Google reader page looks like. Each light blue bar represents one of the RSS feeds that I’m subscribed to. Underneath most of them are 3 links and 3 plus-signs. The links are taken from the titles of the posts. I can preview the post by clicking on the plus-sign. When you only see a blue bar with no links below it, it’s because I’ve chosen to minimize that particular feed. By clicking on the drop-down icon (on the right of the bar), I can select expand this gadget and see the 3 latest updates.
You’ll also notice in the screenshot that I like having the weather display (living in New England – that can be exciting) and the spotlight video from YouTube. It’s so easy to rearrange these feeds too. By moving your cursor to the upper left of any of these “gadgets”, you’ll see the move icon (4 intersecting arrows). Just left-click and drag to customize your page. If you’ve changed your mind and want to delete the feed completely, click on the drop-down icon and select delete this gadget.
The next question you may be asking yourself is should you have an RSS feed? Well… do you have a blog? If you do, then I would yes, add an RSS feed. (One of the easiest ways to create an RSS feed is to use Google Feedburner.)
Having an RSS feed gives you one more opportunity to connect with your readers by making it easy for them to get updates. Of course, one size never really does seem to fit all. So, be sure to offer people other ways to connect with you including social networking sites like Twitter and let’s not forget email. That’s still the communication method of choice for lots of people.
How do you handle RSS feeds? Do you still use a RSS reader? Do you use Scoop.it or Summify? A better question (for those of you who didn’t need this little primer) is how do you handle your own RSS feed? Do you have a lot of subscribers? What sites do you automatically submit your content to? Do you have any tips to share with us like plugins or other tools? (I think I see a new post on this in the future. Thanks! :))
CAUTION: Feedburner is great and I recommend using it. However, bloggers need to tweak the settings. The default settings redirect backlinks to Google and away from your site. Here’s an excellent article on what to do to prevent this: Feedburner Is Stealing Your CommentLuv Backlinks!
Article Originally Published on: Jun 3, 2010