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RSS Defined and Demystified

Posted by Alicia Whalen on: 2006-06-22 18:03:01

Self SEO > RSS Articles


A friend of mine called me the other day to tell me that he thought our site wasn’t optimized very well. I said, “What do you mean? You know it takes awhile for natural optimization to kick in!” (I mean he is an IT guy and knows the site hasn’t been up that long).


“Well it was really embarrassing,” he continued, “I wanted to show my wife your site and so I searched for ‘two blonde chicks’ and all I can say she was not impressed with what came up!

It made me laugh and I did correct him that we were “a couple of chicks” that happen to be blonde, but that blonde was not one of our keywords. The comment did get me thinking…what do you do while you are waiting for your site to get optimized and ranked?

Now we all know there is the short term fix of Pay per Click, which I mentioned before in “So you want to manage a Pay per Click Campaign,” is not as easy as it sounds. However whether you embark down that road or not, my partner and I decided it was time to take the leap and become involved in RSS. Real Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary sounds like it should be relatively simple to understand, I mean simple is the way they describe it.

So for the “Chicks” I thought I would take a two step approach. First we should set our own site set up with an RSS Feed, and then sign up for RSS on topics of interest to experience it from a consumer point of view. My goal was to understand RSS, be able to explain it so anyone could understand it, become an expert on how it works to assist our clients in getting their RSS set up, and to use our Web Analytic tracking tool to measure the effectiveness and ROI.

First Step: When researching how to set up an RSS feed and how to assist our clients, my research stated that adding useful and relevant content to your website is one of the best ways to increase your search engine visibility and keep visitors coming back to the site. You need to create a flow of useful information to keep people coming back to your site and an RSS Feed is a great way to continually inform everyone of new content.

My research also told me that having an RSS Feed would increase my rankings in the search engines because of the increased visibility would be created through the feeds. Truthfully I still couldn’t figure out quite what and RSS feed was!

Being the search specialist that I am, (even though I know that search results are weighted by numerous factors) I figured Google would know it was me and help me out. So I put RSS into the search bar. What I found was so technically complex, I was beginning to think I had ventured into an area that was way above this “Chicks” head!

I uncovered sentences like…“ RSS defines an XML grammar (a set of HTML-like tags) for sharing news. Each RSS text file contains both static information about your site, plus dynamic information about your new stories, all surrounded by matching start and end tags.” I had no idea, and still don’t know what that means!

So true to form of any searcher when I did not find a relevant result, I didn’t go past the first page; I changed my search to… RSS Definition. I was immediately drawn to a site about a third of the page down that said, The Coolest RSS Definition: Bill Flitter's a Genius. This had to be it; excited I clicked through to what I was confident would clear up any confusion I was having regarding the meaning of RSS. I closed my eyes as I hit the mouse to see the answer and this is what appeared… "RSS is Santa Claus content, delivered to you by the postal carrier, via your own personal remote control ordering system."

Why don’t I understand this yet? When in doubt, and I can’t find what I am looking for, I surrender to my sure fire search method of adding “for dummies” to my search. “Rss for Dummies” turned out to be a breakthrough. I found a great article by a gentleman named Scoot Hendison who finally could explain RSS to me in a language I could understand. http://ezinearticles.com/?RSS-For-Dummies&id=83300

When you realize what it is, and how simple it is, you will be amazed at how unnecessarily complicated an acronym can make things! In fact, before I reveal the secret, I can almost bet you have set up an RSS feed and didn’t even know it. I discovered I had personally set up over 6 feeds and hadn’t realized it.

Basically, if you go to whatever home page you have on your browser like www.yahoo.com, they give you the option of creating “my yahoo”. This is where you can personalize content so that each day when you log in you can view the latest headlines on any topic that interests you. It could be travel or marketing or sports scores or stock information, anything you can imagine. When you customized your home page there is a tab that says “add content.” It is here that you can add a URL or a topic and daily, without the stress of logging into a bunch of sites or having a ton of email newsletters, the information you want is right there updated in real time, talking directly to you!

As mentioned I had set up numerous personalized content feeds on my home page without knowing that I was using RSS. The content comes from websites that set themselves up with an RSS feed. Real Simple Syndication can be formatted to your desktop among other areas, but the easiest source is your home page, and it is free!

If you enjoy articles like these, and the day to day discoveries of internet marketing are as entertaining as they are to me, enter our “Chicks” RSS feed into your own RSS reader http://rss.coupleofchicks.com/rss.xml. To read more about how to use RSS from A Couple of Chicks visit www.acoupleofchicks.com, and if you want to find out and need assistance in setting up an RSS feed on your site, drop us a line or give us a call – we now have it all figured out! Now that I feel my head has cleared and I can finally see what everyone is talking about….I think I’ll look into blogging!

Patricia Brusha and Alicia Whalen are the co-founder’s of "A Couple of Chicks," an Internet Marketing, Distribution & Revenue Measurement Company. The “Chicks” specialize in using Creative Distribution and Technology to bring clarity to marketing on-line.




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