One of the biggest reasons people visit websites is to get information. If you can regularly provide fresh, quality content on your website, you can expect to be rewarded by visitors and return visitors. What’s more, you will be rewarded by the search engines. I recommended that you add new and original content to your site as often as possible, ideally once a day.
Regularly adding fresh and original content:
- – Keeps your site visitors coming back
- – Continually adds value to your website
- – Makes people more comfortable buying from your site
- – Establishes yourself as an authority in your industry
- – Greatly helps your site rank higher in search engines
- All of the above factors translate into revenue.
We all know how hard adding original and fresh content is, especially if you’re the business owner. You have to be original, creative, organized, thoughtful and motivated, and able to write above all. So what’s a website owner or business owner supposed to do? RSS may be the answer.
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What Is RSS?
Here’s the Wikipedia definition of RSS:
RSS is a family of web feed formats specified in XML (a generic specification for data formats) and used for Web syndication. RSS delivers its information as an XML file called an “RSS feed”, “webfeed”, “RSS stream”, or “RSS channel”. These RSS feeds provide a way for users to passively receive newly released content (such as text, web pages, sound files, or other media); this might be the full content itself or just a link to it, possibly with a summary or other metadata (data describing the content).
- RSS feeds are operated by many news web sites, weblogs, schools, and podcasters.
- “RSS” can stand for any of the following phrases:
- Really Simple Syndication (RSS 2.0)
- Rich Site Summary (RSS 0.91, RSS 1.0)
- RDF Site Summary (RSS 0.9 and 1.0)
Want to see an example of RSS in action? Go to the Oak Web Works, LLC homepage (www.oakwebworks.com/), and look at the bottom of the right-hand column under the title ‘Latest Tech News.’ These are actually two RSS feeds from other websites.
Our company homepage was very static. It didn’t change very much since the services we offer stay basically the same. Why should any visitors come back if they come to our site every time the content is the same? They don’t have much of a reason.
Interestingly, that’s the way search engine spiders were programmed to “think” as well. Spiders are programs written for search engines to surf the Web and record what’s there regularly. That recording goes into the search engine’s databases, ready to be accessed by the next searcher. This process is called indexing.
For example, Google will send out a spider to your site and index a lot of it, but not always all of it. It determines how often to revisit and index your site by how often you update it. If you update it every day, it will visit much more often than if you rarely update it. Engines also consider the homepage to be the most important page, so it’s good to update it even more often than the rest of your site.
Again, if you struggle with adding fresh content, then RSS may be the answer. We didn’t write the headlines under ‘Latest Tech News’ on our homepage. Instead, the RSS feed automatically grabbed it from another site that had created them. Once we set the feed up, we don’t have to do anything more, and our homepage has regularly updated content. Every time those headlines change, it updates its feed, which is then updated on any other websites displaying that feed and ours.
RSS can be more than news headlines. They can be lists of any kind. They can be press releases, articles, blog entries, product releases, or almost any other changing or growing data grouping.
How Do I Set An RSS Feed Up?
Check if your Web server has PHP capabilities. If so, then there are hundreds of scripts written in PHP that you can use for free that properly display RSS feeds recognized by search engines. There are RSS scripts written in ASP.NET, Perl, and numerous other languages, so you have a wide variety to choose from.
For the Oak Web Works, LLC homepage, we used an ASP script called RSS to HTML.
Which one would you choose? After you’ve determined which languages your Web server supports, conduct a search such as “PHP script for displaying RSS feeds in HTML” or ‘ASP and RSS,’ for example. Try a few and see which ones run on your server. If one runs on your server properly and check this by simply seeing if it displays RSS feeds on your Web page, then use that one.
When you download the script, look at the code and add an RSS feed URL. There should be a dummy one in there already, so replace that one with the RSS feed you want to use. Here’s what a typical RSS feed URL looks like
The URL’s often end in ‘.rss’ as well.
After we inserted the RSS feed URL into the script, we wanted to display the HTML feed on our homepage. To do this, we added the following bit of code into the spot on our homepage HTML code where we wanted it to display:
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Keep in mind that this is for a Windows Web server. How you include it on a website powered by a UNIX Web server will be a little different. If you’re not sure, ask your hosting company.