What Is A RSS Feed?

You’ve undoubtedly seen the orange RSS feed icon on lots of  WordPress websites, but you may not be aware what it does.

What does RSS stand for?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.  That may sound a bit geeky to you, but it really is not that complicated.  MOST IMPORTANT… by offering your site visitors an opportunity to be notified of your new posts, you’ll get visitors coming back to your website.

Use An RSS feed so your visitors can receive your posts via RSS readers

RSS lets your WordPress site visitors sign up to receive your posts automatically in an RSS reader.  Just click on the orange RSS icon in my header and look at all the RSS readers you can use to subscribe to my posts.  You’ll see the many reader programs you can choose from, including My Yahoo, My AOL, + Google, RSS Owl and many others.  You will also see the option to get posts delivered by email.

Use Feedburner for a better look and to get stats

If you want to offer your site visitors the ability to sign up for your RSS feed, I recommend using Google’s  Feedburner.  Your visitors will see a really nice looking (and intuitive) page when they click on the RSS icon.   If you use the default WordPress RSS ‘subscribe to feed’ page it appears in a fairly boring layout.  If you want to see the boring view,  click again on the RSS icon in my menu bar, then click on the ‘View Feed XML’ at the bottom of the Subscribe Now box.   In addition to signing up for a free Feedburner account, you’ll need to add the plugin ‘Feedburner Feed Smith’.  The process for getting everything setup is explained on the Feedburner website.

Get subscribers back to your site

By showing just teasers in your RSS feed, subscribers will need to link to your website to read the full articles.  And if you can get these followers back to your website you’ll have an opportunity to show them other new content or products.

Use an RSS feed to add fresh content to your site from another site

Another way an RSS feed can work is by allowing content from another website to automatically appear on your website.  You can find an example on WashingtonGoldExchange.com. In the right sidebar of this site you’ll see a feed titled ‘Real Money News’ that has the orange RSS icon next to it.  When you click to read more about any of these articles you’ll be taken to the website where the post lives.  This is a way to add fresh content and more value to your own website, especially if you don’t have time to be consistently writing new posts.  An even better strategy is to write the original content and get others to feed the teasers into their websites.