You might already know what an RSS feed is or wonder what the fuss is about. Here’s a quick rundown of RSS feeds and how to use them for your business.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It’s a way for websites to publish content that users can subscribe to using special software called an “aggregator.” Users enter keywords or topics into their aggregators and get updates whenever new content appears on sites they subscribe to. The most popular aggregator is Google Reader; many others are also available.
By publishing articles on your website in RSS format, you make it easy for readers to subscribe via an aggregator such as Google Reader or Feedly (a free service). These reader programs then alert people when new content appears — usually with a small icon.
RSS feeds are an excellent way for businesses to reach their customers. They can provide instant access to all information about your business and its products, allowing you to send updates easily.
But there are some downsides too.
Currently, Google Reader is still free, but that could change soon. Cost-cutting measures at Google have threatened the service, and although nothing has been confirmed yet, it may not be long before RSS feeds are no longer available for free. If this happens, there will be significant implications for online marketers who rely heavily on Google Reader for their daily newsfeeds.
Another issue with relying too much on RSS feeds is that they may not always give you the best possible results when searching for information online. You can only see so much from reading an article in an RSS feed without clicking through to read more of the story or viewing other content relating to that story elsewhere on the web. If you want more information about something in particular, it’s worth going straight to the source rather than relying on someone else’s interpretation of events through their RSS feed.
Don’t let your online marketing become RSS-reliant.
You might have heard that RSS feeds are dead. This isn’t entirely true. While the number of people using RSS feeds steadily decreases over time, many still prefer to receive their news via this method.
The truth is that most internet users still prefer an old-school newsletter to an RSS news subscription.
But it’s also true that to stay competitive in this fast-paced world. You must use every tool, including RSS feeds, to reach your audience as effectively as possible.
RSS feeds are valuable as they help you connect with new customers and bring them back when they want more information about your products or services. But if you want to grow your business, you need more than one tool.
That’s why the cornerstone of online marketing is still the email newsletter. Most people are conservative by nature and adopt new communication technologies only gradually. The truth is that many internet users still prefer an old-school newsletter to an RSS news subscription.
One of the most significant advantages of using RSS feeds is that they are universal, meaning that your customers can subscribe to your website’s content wherever they are. With so many other websites competing for attention, it is easy for customers to miss out on important news and updates from your business.
Even for your website users who subscribe to your RSS feeds, chances are that your website is just one of many they follow. How do you ensure your customers do not miss out on important updates, promotions and blog articles; lost in a sea of data? The answer is to issue a periodic ‘digest’ email newsletter with links to all the best news updates. If you send these out monthly or weekly – depending on how often you update your site; you can compensate for the propensity of your blog posts being lost in a flood of RSS feed updates in Google Reader.
But this does not mean no one will read your blog posts if you don’t send out an email newsletter! In fact, by issuing regular updates via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and email newsletters, you will ensure that all your customers have access to the latest information about your business at all times.
Market your RSS feed.
Most of us have heard of RSS feeds, but many people do not know how to use them. This is a shame because RSS feeds are a great way to increase your visibility and get more traffic to your website.
Creating one for your blog or website is an excellent way to use an RSS feed. Once you have created the feed, you can submit it to various directories to list it in their databases and tell their users about it. This will help increase the number of people who visit your site through the search engines.
Once you have your feed set up, you must market it correctly so that people know about it and can subscribe to it. One way to do this is by submitting your feed to various directories and blogs so that they can include links in their posts linking back to yours. Another option is using social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, where you can post links directly from those sites onto your profile page, where they will be visible to all of your followers at once.
RSS feeds are not the be-all and end-all of online marketing, and it is a mistake to assume that they somehow supplant the importance of regular email newsletter updates. Still, they are a powerful tool in your online marketing repertoire. When properly managed and marketed, they can be a good source of new traffic to your website.