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(An RSS primer can be found near the bottom of the article)
A commercial website in 2005 is really costing itself money if it does not utilize the myriad advantages of implementing RSS feeds. RSS provides near real-time delivery of information your website visitors are interested in, it provides constantly updated content that search engines crave, and it is quite simple to implement.
RSS is a great way to increase relevant content to your website that your visitors will find quite helpful. For instance, if you have a website which covers "search engine optimizing", you can search for that term in major news outlets such as Yahoo, then apply that search to an RSS feed which will provide constantly updated keyword-rich news and information to your site! We all know that a site that is updated frequently looks more important to a search engine than one that is static. Most news providers allow you to use RSS feeds from their site for free-And why not, since it gives them more exposure and links.
Because the feeds must be handled on the server-side, a piece of software must be utilized to display the feed that is usually in the form of an ".XML" file on your web page. There are a few out there that handle this task for you quite nicely, I recommend Carp. It's free, it works on PHP servers, and it is easy to setup and use. Once it's installed all you have to do to put it on your page is put code where you'd like the headlines for that feed to appear. The Carp documentation does a great job detailing the procedure on their website.
RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a technology that has seen its popularity skyrocket in recent months that allows news items, forum posts, etc. to be delivered to your desktop using a newsreader called an aggregator. The Firefox browser allows for RSS feeds to be "bookmarked", and that bookmark folder shows the latest feeds from that site. You've probably seen the links to RSS feeds (identified as little rectangles with usually the letters "RSS" or "XML" appearing on them) appearing on more and more websites, but didn't know what it was all about. You maybe even clicked on one and saw a page of computer "code". The reason it shows the code instead of easy to read information is because most browsers are not aggregators. That link is useless in your browser (aside from the Firefox bookmark technique mentioned previously), but it's pure gold in your aggregator! The aggregator I use is another Mozilla product, Firefox's cousin, the Thunderbird e-mail client that does a nice job as an aggregator. I use it to keep up on the posts of my favorite search engine optimization (SEO) forum at Seochat.com.
In conclusion, RSS is a great new technology that benefits website visitors as well as webmasters. When visitors are kept happy with more fresh relevant content, and search engines are excited to crawl your site and give it more weight, it results in more sales for you!
Written by Erich Bihlman, of Bihlman Consulting - PC and
Internet Tutoring and Website Design in Prescott, Arizona.
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