1 Dec, 2008 in Content Creation, RSS by

Step By Step RSS Feed Creation

Okay, you have a website setup to promote your books, music, and other products you wish to sell

With a bit of Internet savvy, you have created an attractive design to catch the Internet user’s eyes, and with your expertise on the subject at hand you are able to provide thoughtful, provoking content

You are confident your site is optimized for good search results, with a good saturation of keywords in your content

Your site is simple to navigate, fun to read, and yet informative enough to be highly regarded by engines

You are ready for the world!

Yet, you feel as though what you are doing is not enough

Perhaps you enjoy a steady increase in traffic through traditional online marketing means, occasional tweaking of metadata and e-mail advertising

Offline advertising is not in the budget right now, and you want to try other, cheaper alternative before delving into pay-per-click advertising

What else is there to do?

Have you considered creating an RSS feed for your website? If you are in the business of promoting and selling many products and services, having an RSS feed attached to your website may be beneficial in attracting new visitors to your website

RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication, and it is a specific format for aggregating news and information to other websites and Internet users who read news through special aggregators, or readers

Think of RSS as a distant cousin of the news tickers you see on your favorite 24-hour news or sports network

As new information is made public, the wires pick up the story and syndicate the content to interested third parties seeking information to distribute

An all-sports network, for example, would select only the most recent sports news from various syndicates to put on television

RSS works in a similar way

Not sure how? Next time you log onto the Internet, take a look at your start up page, if you use My Yahoo or My MSN or anything similar

What do you see? Maybe you have updated news bytes from Associated Press or Reuters, daily comic strips, weather and horoscope, and so on

You know, of course, that such pages can be customized to show only what you want to see

If you’re interested only in entertainment news, you would adjust your page so you only receive movie gossip and reviews, and news from the top entertainment magazines, right? All of this information is syndicated, and your start up page acts as an aggregator, collecting only the relevant information you want it to collect and display

Now, stay with me, because here’s the fun part: by creating an RSS feed, you can become a syndicate! Say you are a romance author and offer a series of passionate stories you know romance fans will love

You can create an RSS feed using news about your books and information related to writing, the romance genre, and the publishing industry to create usable content for aggregators

With proper promotion and distribution, users interested in romance novels can either add your feed to their private readers, or even their websites, thereby increasing your exposure

This in turn can increase traffic to your site, and account for more sales!

Sounds like something you want to do to further promote yourself on the Internet? If so, great! But if you are new to the concept of RSS and are not sure how to start, don’t fret

Once you learn the basic of creating and promoting an RSS feed, you will find it is as simple as creating a website

Here follows a basic step by step for creating a simple feed

Once you get the hang of RSS content and wish to work with something more advanced, a good instruction manual on Real Simple Syndication can help you achieve much more for your books, music, and products

For now, though, let’s get the basics down pat

1) Content

Before you even think about messing with RSS software or hand coding the proper markup language, you need to consider carefully the type of content you plan to use for your feed

Syndicated content in this context will differ from standard website content in that it needs to entice readers to click through to your website and buy your books or take advantage of your services

If you give too little, readers may not be interested enough to visit your site

Give too much, and readers may be overwhelmed, or think they don’t have to click your links

Study RSS feeds that typify what you plan to distribute

Especially if you are trying to promote a book, a CD, or other items, you want to look at shopping RSS feeds in particular to see how they are executed

Think of your content as a 30-second commercial: depending upon the types of aggregators used to collect your feed data, users may see only a headline first, so think of one that grab attention

Use easy to understand language in your content: sharp, peppy and to the point

Emphasize the purchase links and any sales or discount incentives

Some RSS aggregators accept code for images, so take advantage of that

Display your book or CD cover, a picture of your product, or your logo

For readers that don’t aggregate images, be sure to use the ALT option and describe the item

Plan ahead for your feed

An RSS feed should be treated as a regular newswire

So if you feel you do not have enough content to necessitate a regular feed, consider supplemental information related to your site and map out when you plan to add new items to your feed

Once you have a working schedule, now you can into the work of creating your feed and having some real fun!

2) Creation

If you are completely new to the idea of RSS and have only moderate skills where website development is concerned, you can still build an attractive, effective feed for your site

Before you do, bear this one thing in mind:

An RSS feed is a file hosted on your server, identified by either a

rss or

xml suffix rather than the

html extension

Most updates to browsers will allow visitors to see the feed as it is supposed to look should a link to your feed be clicked

Don’t panic, however, if somebody clicks on your feed link and claims to see “gibberish

” They are likely seeing only the raw code

Now that you are ready to create a feed, it is highly recommended to use software designed for this purpose

An Internet search for “RSS freeware” or “RSS software” will point you in the right direction

I personally use RSS Builder to create my feeds

It is user friendly and simple to install

As you learn more about RSS, you may want to test a few programs before deciding on one to use regularly

Choose a name for your feed that is indicative of your products or site

The romance author may want to use romancenovels

rss or romancebooks

rss, while a freelance consultant may want to try consultingnews

rss

There’s no guarantee having such a name will boost search referrals, but to have a relevant keyword in the filename may help readers in their search for content to aggregate

Check your RSS program to see if there are options to input metadata, or your feed’s description

This is important, as the metadata in a published feed helps RSS spiders determine the relevancy of your feed against various searches

As the Internet grows, so does the ability for search engines to mine things like blogs and feeds for data, so you want to be thorough in this respect

If the metadata options ask for a URL and an image logo, provide them

Now, depending upon your program, you have the options to add and delete topics, set times for their publication, and to order them by appearance

This is the heart of the feed, where the information goes

If you approach this part of RSS creation as would with a weblog, you will find it remarkably simple

Each topic is a new post

Depending upon the volume of news you wish to distribute, you can create new topics daily or several in a day

Don’t give away too much information in your posts

Enticing text should prompt readers to click through to your main site, where the action (and point of sale) is

Use keyword rich text to attract those spiders that mine data from RSS

As your catalog grows, as you write more books or take on new projects, you will have more material for your feed

3) Distribution

Once you have a few entries in your feed, now you can upload your RSS file for readership and distribution

Depending upon the RSS building software you are using, you may be able to upload directly to your site using the software

Otherwise you may need to use an FTP program to do this

Make sure you know your ID and password for your website, and make sure the file for the feed is correctly named with the

rss or

xml extension

Once it’s live on your site, check the file in an RSS aggregator or in a web browser that reads RSS to make sure it is working to your satisfaction

If so, congratulations! You have just published an RSS feed

But, you are not finished yet

In order to help site visitors know that you have a feed you need to do things

First, you need to place links on your website indicating that you have a feed

You would do this the same way you would create a hyperlink to another URL

In the HREF anchor tag, indicate the full URL of your feed with a note saying “Subscribe to our RSS feed

” You may also want to use a small graphic to bring attention to your feed

Many sites use a small, orange rectangle with RSS or XML in white letters, to direct visitors to feeds

To direct RSS aggregators and spiders to your feed, you will need to place a LINK REL tag in the HEAD section of your HTML code

It will look like this (just place carats before and after

link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml” title=”RSS” href=”Your RSS URL goes here”

This lets the spider know there is RSS content available

4) Promote

Once your feed is active, you can actively promote it

A quick Internet search for “RSS Search Engines” will led you to many resources where you can submit your feed information

You would submit your feed the same way you would submit a website, just make sure to provide all necessary information

In addition, you may want to consider some viral marketing of your feed

Include the feed URL in your e-mail signature, or contact other websites of relevant topics and let them know you have content for distribution in RSS

Websites similar to yours looking for material may wish to aggregate your feed and place the content on their sites

You, in turn, get free exposure and increase your chance for sales

5) Ping

If you know where to look, there are websites and software available designed to notify, or “ping,” RSS directories and search engines when a feed is updated

This is believed to expedite the updating process on their end

The sooner they know new information is available, the sooner they will mine your feed for data

A quick Internet search for “RSS pinger” will lead you information on how to regularly notify users of updates to your feed

Some sources will let you notify several engines at once, and it can be a helpful tool in your promotion

From writing content to publicizing your products, using RSS feeds to enhance your website can be very helpful in increasing exposure to your books and music, services and products

Syndicate your content and watch your site traffic, and sales, grow

– Ciniva Web Agency

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