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Displaying RSS Feeds on Websites

Displaying RSS
RSS offers webmasters a unique opportunity to display fresh content on websites. While publishing an RSS feed is a great way to generate site interest and increase communication, syndicating and displaying feeds from related relevant sources can also generate interest, increase traffic and improve search engine ranking.

RSS Radars
Webmasters with limited time or capacity can syndicate related content. In a nut shell, webmasters can create RSS radars by combining a mix of content from related sources by grouping similarly-themed feeds. RSS feeds are updated at different intervals, providing an ever-changing collection of related information.

RSS is a form of eXtensible Markup Language or XML. Viewing an RSS feed in a web browser generally produces code that is not easy for website visitors to decipher. As a result, webmasters use tools to display the content contained in an RSS feed.

Content contained in RSS feeds can be added to websites a number of different ways. Each method for displaying the RSS feed has pros and cons associated with it. Webmasters will need to determine which option will best meet their hosting and technology needs.

Using Javascript to Display RSS
Javascript is the easiest way to display RSS feeds on a website. There are a number of sites that will allow you to generate code that can be inserted into a website. The javascript will auto-update, showing the latest headlines as the feed is updated. Each time a visitor visits the website the javascript pulls the data from the feed. Often, the various scripts can be customized so that the look of the feed can be made to match a specific websiteeeds with hopes that the search engines will devour and spider the contents, you will be disappointed. When javascript is used to display RSS feeds, search engines do not actually "see" the contents of the feed, meaning that the search engines will not index the contents of the feed within the website.

Feedroll - Feedroll is a free service for syndicating RSS and ATOM news feeds on your website. Simply select a feed, customize the design, then copy and paste the code provided onto your page.

Using PHP to Display RSS
PHP is a slightly more complex solution for displaying RSS. Like javascript, as the contents of the feed updates, the web page contents will update as the page is refreshed. The benefit of using PHP to display RSS is that the contents of the feed displayed with the webpage can be spidered and indexed by search engines. The result is a feed that always displays the most current information from the RSS feed and the web page content is considered search engine spider and robot-friendly.

rss2html.php - The rss2html.php script allows users to create web pages that will always display the most current information from the RSS feed, and because the resulting page is pure HTML, it will be in a format friendly to search engine robots. Using rss2html.php, webmasters can customize the format and look of the web page created from the feed. The RSS feed's contents can easily be integrated into an existing website's theme. The rss2html.php script parses the RSS file, extracts the pertinent information, formats it, and serves it up as regular HTML.

FeedRoll Pro - FeedRollPro was really designed to enable publishers to syndicate their own content on other sites. But it can be used to syndicate news feeds from other sites on your own pages.

Using ASP to Display RSS
ASP is similar to PHP. The free ASP/ASP.NET scripts can be used to convert RSS feeds into HTML and display on ASP/ASP.NET web-server.

rss2html.asp - ByteScout has implemented a guide for displaying of RSS/XML feed using free RSS2HTML.ASP script in ASP or ASP.NET environment. This script can be used free of charge on any ASP or ASP.NET web-server and generate HTML from RSS feed. This free ASP script uses MSXML to load RSS feed from URL and display it. You can use it as a standalone or call from script on HTML page to generate HTML content from RSS feed and then display on your HTML page.

RssFeed - RssFeed is an open-source custom ASP.NET server control that displays the contents of a specified RSS feed in an ASP.NET web page.

If PHP or ASP is used to update feeds, the website will have free fresh, relevant content each time the feeds referenced are updated.

Export RSS to HTML
If you wish to dress up the feed's appearance you can use a template exporting the feed as HTML or an HTML table. Publishers can incorporate exported tables into an HTML template using a server-side include. Each time the feed is updated, the feed will need to be exported to HTML and uploaded along with the feed. Though this only takes a few moments, exporting RSS to HTML does require webmaster intervention to update the content. The end result, though, is a complete web page with an RSS feed in it that will be search engine-friendly.

FeedForAll - FeedForAll allows users to export RSS feeds from RSS to HTML. The look of the HTML can be modified to match an existing website's design.

Using Services
There are a number of services available that host and display RSS feeds, in many cases free of charge. Because these services operate on a different domain server there is little benefit to end-users displaying their feeds in this fashion. That said, the services are generally free of charge, so you get what you pay for. - Select a layout, color scheme and enter the URL of the feed. A web page URL will be generated that will display the feed in the selected scheme.

FeedBurner - FeedBurner provides a number of online services. Among them is a service that displays RSS feeds on a website.

Using XSL to Display RSS
Although using XSL and CSS stylesheets to display XML directly is easy to understand in theory, it is rather tricky to implement in the real world and is very tough for novices to use successfully. Webmasters must be fairly familiar with CSS and XSL to have the formatting work well, and webmasters then have to address browser incompatibilities and exceptions. As a result, not a lot of resources or services yet exist to display RSS using XSL.

Using highly targeted feeds, webmasters can enhance their websites with themed content. Ultimately, providing relevant, educational or newsworthy information from reputable related sources will establish expertise in a specific area.

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage a wireless text messaging software company.


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