So what is RSS? It stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and just about every blogger and news outlet uses it. Basically, it’s a way to get notified that a website’s content has updated without having to visit. I follow 32 different websites with RSS because it’s easier than visiting 32 websites every day (several times a day) just to find out when one or two update their content. There are more than twenty other websites I would follow but they don’t haven an RSS feed. Some of them I wanted to follow so badly, I even called and asked them to create a feed! So far? Yeah, still no feed.
Maybe I’m off base, here, but I’ve been frustrated today in my search for RSS feeds on local websites. I just can’t believe that only three of twenty sites I looked at actually had an RSS feed. And none of them had multiple feeds. RSS isn’t hard stuff – any modern content management system worth its salt will have it built right in. Why not use it? Maybe it’s just a local phenomenon, but on the off-chance that it isn’t, here’s why I believe RSS is important.
Sure, I could sign up for their email newsletter. But I’ll inevitably sign up for an email list that doesn’t take my privacy seriously and it won’t take long for the SPAM to start rolling in. As a side note on this, for those sites I do provide an email address to, they each get their own unique email address. That way I know where all the SPAM started from.
What else can a person do? Well, instead of signing up for email, just follow their RSS feed! On my Mac, I can add an RSS feed right to my Email program and have new content flow right into my inbox just like it was an email. If I don’t want a certain site’s news anymore, I just turn the feed off and it’s gone. There is no unsubscribe feature that emails me a removal verification (that usually goes to junk mail, preventing me from being removed), there’s no extra SPAM from unscrupulous websites selling my address to whoever. It’s just easy.
There are some other cool benefits to RSS for the web user. Want to read the news and not see all the obnoxious ads? Check out RSS. Want to keep up with your favorite blogger? RSS. Want to know what’s going on at the local non-profit? RSS. The best part is you can put all of these feeds into an RSS application and see who’s updating without actually having to visit dozens of websites.
As a business, have you ever wanted to notify your visitors, the press, or search engines when you have new content? Guess who checks RSS feeds? Yep, anyone who gets paid to keep up with content is very likely to appreciate a good RSS feed.
If you have a website, here are some reasons I think you should create a feed for your site.
- You have a “press release” page.
- You have a calender of events page.
- You publish job openings to your site.
- You have other regularly updated information (news, blogs, photo galleries, client testimonials, etc.)
Don’t just make one big feed, though. Each of the reasons above is valid enough for its own, unique RSS feed that’s tied to it’s own audience. If someone wants to follow them all, they can. But if they’re only interested to know when a new job opening is posted, they can do that, too.
Give me your thoughts on RSS feeds. Do you use them to keep up with content?