Every hour, millions of new web pages are added to the Internet. It won't be an exaggeration to say that the Internet is flooded with information, all the time. If it wasn't for search engines and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, we would have been drowned in information and still be left thirsty for real knowledge.
Two of the best ways of driving traffic towards a website are search engine optimization and setup of RSS feeds, besides the provision of high quality content. Information is a commodity on the Internet and users looking for specific information need pointers and links to latest information, that is generated every hour. This function is served by RSS feed.
What is it?
RSS stands for 'Really Simple Syndication'. It provides a way to collect fresh updates from your website, collate them, and display in a listed form. An RSS feed is an XML file with a list of links to all the fresh pages added to your blog or website.
Every website continuously generates an RSS feed, that includes the list of all new web pages generated, along with short descriptions of its contents and a title. Setting one up for your website or blog helps visitors bookmark your site for future reference.
How to Set it Up?
Setting up the feed is basically writing an XML file in a specific format, using XML tags to list the title, description, and link of every newly added web page. Each RSS file describes a specific 'channel', which is the main page, where new links are added.
If your website has various sections or subcategories, where fresh articles are regularly posted, you can have a separate RSS file for each of these 'channels'. The beginning of the file starts with the specification of the RSS version on which its based, followed by the opening of the RSS tag (< rss >) and the channel tag (< channel >).
Within the channel tag, first the main link of the page whose updates you are providing is given, along with a title and description. This is followed by a list of opening and closing 'item tags (< item >)', with the link of every new page listed within.
There is a separate title (< title >) and description tag (< description >) to describe each link within the tags. Once the list is over, you finish with a closing channel and RSS tag.
Once such a file is created, it needs to be placed on your site's web server and a hyperlink to the file must be created. This link can be shared anywhere on the website. Visitors can click on this link to open the feed as a webpage or add the link to an aggregator.
Most sites use the RSS icon in an image and link it to the file. If your site publishes live data regularly, you will have to write a code using server side scripting, to automatically generate live feed. You can submit your files to RSS validation websites, to check if they confirm with the standard code.
All that creation of an RSS feed takes is a bit of simple XML coding. Study the ones designed by websites and you will understand. Just right click to 'view source' the coding of an XML file.
Setting up of a feed helps bring in regular visitors to your website or blog, as it is collected and displayed in a web page format, by other websites or bookmarked by users for regular reference.