Getting Started with RSS Feeds


Really Simple Syndication (RSS) belongs to the family of web feed formats that use XML formats for Web syndication. RSS Feed is used by various news broadcasting websites and weblogs and for podcasting. Web feed is an XML based document that contains the content items consisting of synopsis of stories and weblog posts with links provided for the detailed description of the content. The Web Feed follows two types of formats - Atom and RSS. When RSS delivers this information as an XML file, it is called an RSS feed or RSS channel.

What is an RSS File?

The RSS files consist of "items". It is essential to include at least one item in your RSS file. In order to enter the items in your RSS file, you will have to provide three pieces of information:

  • Title
  • Link
  • Description

It is not necessary for the title and the description to match the words used in the HTML title tag of the webpage. As long as the title and description defines the content of the link, you can use anything you like.

The XML tags are similar to HTML tags with the sole exception that the XML tags have no set definitions.

Suppose the title you want to use is "Little World" and the description is "this little world comprises of big men and structures", and the link is "".

For the title, you need to include the following inside title tags:

<title>Little World</title>

Similarly the description and links should be included inside their individual tags. The overall appearance should look like:

<title>Little World</title>
<description>this little world comprises of big men and structures</description>

Now that the whole list is complete, we need to define it as an item by placing the whole thing inside item tags. In order to syndicate, we add more and more items. The new items are inserted on top and the old ones get removed from below. The RSS can contain a maximum of 15 such items. Thus, your whole item list should look like this:

<title>Little World</title>
<description>this little world comprises of big men and structures</description>

In order to complete the RSS file, you need to add a tag on top of the file stating the XML and RSS versions. They are usually written as:

xml version="1.0"
rss version="2.0"

Four Sections of an RSS File

The four main sections of the RSS file include the channel, image, item, and text input sections. Amongst these four, it is the channel and item elements that are essential. The other two are optional.

  • Channel Section - The channel section bears the metadata that describes what the channel is about and who created it. It is a compulsory element of the RSS file that contains the channel name, description, language and URL.
  • Image Section - The image section is an optional element of an RSS file that bears the logo of the channel provider. The default image size is 88 pixels width and 31 pixels height. It can be increased to a maximum of 144 pixels and 400 pixels respectively. The tiles, URL, width, height, link tags of the image help it to be transferred into HTML format.
  • Items Section - The items section is the most important and essential element in a channel. These items are changed frequently and serve as news headlines. The title of the items should be less than 100 characters while the description should be below 500. The item title is linked to the full description of the content and the small description provided below helps to highlight the content of the news articles.
  • Text Input Section - the text input section is an optional area and only one text input is allowed per channel. In an HTML format, the test inputs allow the users to respond to the channel.

Creating RSS Feed with the help of Software 

Since the RSS feeds are created in XML, it becomes difficult for the non-technical people to create it using the right type of coding. However, there are a number of RSS feed creation tools available that help not only to create the feeds, but also to edit and publish them. They help to create the professionally looking RSS feeds very quickly and easily. Along with publishing, creating and editing RSS feeds, these software helps in podcasting and iTunes. They are used to create infinite number of RSS feeds that enables the users to maintain and distribute various contents at the same time.

Where to Submit the RSS Feeds after Creation

After you have created your RSS feed, you need a place to submit it. There are a number of sites that allow you to submit your RSS feed. They are very easy to use and require you to enter the domain of your website. These sites often locate the location of your feed. Add the URL of your RSS feed, validate it, format it, view the keyword analysis and submit. It is will be quickly published to the RSS search engines.

Submit your RSS Feed


Displaying Content in RSS Feeds:

There are a number of tools and sites that help the webmasters to display the content present inside RSS Feeds by be generating Java or HTML scripts. They even allow the same feed visible on your site with a regular web browser. They allow you to display the most recent information form your RSS Feed. They are often effective in increasing the display time of RSS Feed.


Validating your RSS Feed:

The syndicated feed has to be validated to make sure that the format is correct and it will work properly. The feed validators work with RSS 0.90, 0.91, 0.92, 0.93, 0.94, 1.0, and 2.0. When the validators find any problems in your feed, they give you a message stating the nature of problem and the location of the problem. You can even get additional help in case you are unable to locate the problem. All you need to do is enter the URL of your RSS Feed, and it checks all the XML and HTML documents.

Validating your RSS Feed


RSS Directory:

There are various RSS feed directories from where you can easily search feed items for specific keywords. You can find topic specific RSS feeds by just navigating the RSS directory. Various feeds like art, article, employment, forum, health, game, classified, business, news, personal, real estate, reference, political, religion, shopping, sports, weather, travel, and law enforcement feeds are present. You can even get the feed depending on your preferred language.

RSS Directory


Areas where RSS feed is used

RSS was first started with the intention of distributing headlines for news items. Slowly, RSS feed started to be used in various other areas. Some of those areas include:

  • Job Openings - Classified feed for job related vacancies are provided by placement firms and other newspapers.
  • New Homes - All the up to date feeds on new home are provided by retailers. This helps in easy search of houses.
  • Auction List - Various auction sites provide feeds on various items that will be auctioned. They are displayed by the auction vendors.
  • Forum Headlines - They give various topics their specific headlines proving new forum threads listing.
  • Product Sales - various sites use RSS to make it easier for the viewers to see the various updated products. Even search result format helps to make the viewers aware of the various specialties of any particular product.
  • Airlines - RSS is used to report flight delays.
  • Entertainment - RSS feed helps to list the latest movies and television programs that are to be showed.
  • Schools - RSS is used to pass on the homework assignments and also to inform about sudden holidays.
  • Press Distribution - RSS helps to update the new releases.
  • Document Listing - They help to save time by listing all the newly added and changed pages. Thus, people no longer have to check for updated documents.
  • Announcements & News - They provide headlines, list of announcements and other notices.
  • Bookmarks & External Links - They are used to share external links of lists.
  • Calendars - RSS lists all the holidays, and various past and upcoming events.
  • Law Enforcement - It aids the communities to be aware of the location and status of sex offenders.
  • Search Results - Helps to track all the changes while the user is searching for any particular item.

Why Use RSS Feed?

RSS is quickly becoming the Internet's most powerful marketing tool. They allow people to opt-into the feeds that they are interested in. they can also opt out at ease. You don't have to spend time maintaining the RSS feed. E-mailing to subscribers the syndicated content is one of the major benefits of RSS. It helps to easily promote your products and services. You can rest assured that your messages will be delivered to the users since it has no filter problems. Those who subscribe to your feed agree to the policy that you will deliver them syndication without marking it as spam. RSS feeds are versatile as it can be read on various media platforms. RSS feed is also one of the best ways of gaining free traffic to your site.

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