RSS stands for 'Rich Site Summary' or 'Really Simple Syndication'. RSS is a format which does the job of distributing web content and news. When you put a feed on RSS, you are basically sending content to other websites and several people as well.
RSS feeds are considered to be very powerful, because they attract the interest of search engines and a large audience as well. Various commercial websites such as Twitter, MySpace and many blogging websites use RSS feeds.
Social media such as Facebook too have caught up on this trend and are known to use it very zealously. From a user's point of view, RSS feeds helps to stay connected to all the happenings around the globe.
What goes on in an RSS feed?
First of all, I must tell you that RSS feeds are not restricted to any media. You can add text, audio or video to the feeds. RSS feeds look like a list of items that contain a title and description. This list is indexed, and is identified by the link to the respective website.
The title is made to be catchy and its description is designed to be very interesting, so that the targeted user may want to visit the associated website.
What do these feeds do?
Once you subscribe to these feeds, the content will come to you rather than you visiting every website. From a publisher's point of view, this seems like a bad idea, but it is in fact a good and novel way to publicize.
Consider this example, when you are browsing through the Internet, there are many websites which you intend to revisit. But you rarely do revisit them (maybe you forget to do so, or maybe you just don't remember the name of the website or come across another one that you may find more interesting).
This pattern of not visiting is true even for the many different news websites. A stale news is of no use to the reader, as well as the publisher. Through these feeds, at least the news reaches the reader, increasing the chances that the reader may visit the news website once he has had a chance to read the feed.
How to read RSS feeds?
Reading this RSS feed is like listening to the radio. The station sends out the signals and we listen to the songs. With RSS, you send out the content, and the user reads the content through 'newsreader' (it's an application that was used previously).
These days RSS comes built into the browser. Typically, a tab is placed below the browser's address bar with an orange-colored logo. Click on it and you can see a list.
How do RSS feeds improve search engines visibility?
Search engines use a program called crawlers. These crawlers are programmed to search new as well as updated content on the Internet. Fresh and updated content is by far the most effective way of optimizing your website. Now, how is this relevant to RSS feeds?
Now, instead of having to go to a website and searching for content, RSS feeds bring the content to the search engine (just the way it brings it to the user). This way, a crawler's job is simplified. This is also a way of increasing the publisher's visibility.
Improved visibility means improved search engine ranking, and improved ranking means more visitors. When the number of visitors to your website increases, you get more advertising revenue.
The experience of using RSS feeds is absolutely delightful. Almost everyone who uses this mechanism has fallen in love with it.