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    RSS Information: here are all the key posts


    There are two sites that I always walk people through whenever I start to work with them on their Blogs: Technorati and Feedburner. Why? Because I believe that Technorati is the start point for anyone looking to find out more about what is out in the Blogosphere and because Feedburner provides some excellent easy to use tools that all bloggers can benefit from, right from the start.

    Feedburner offers a number of paid services which you can progress on to as the need arises, but their free services are well worth taking the time to examine and incorporate in your Blog. There are ones which I particularly recommend because I feel that they help in utilising and developing your Blog’s RSS Feed in important ways.

    The elements I would highlight are:

    Subscriber information: by channeling your RSS Feed subscriptions through Feedburner, you can gain additional information about those subscribing. Specifically, it allows you to identify the number of people that are actively subscribed to your feed, as well as providing information on the type of reader they are using and the articles that have been visited directly from the feed itself.

    User friendly RSS feed: there are some small touches you can make to enhance the experience for people receiving your feed such as including your logo, which in itself reinforces the branding aspect, and changing the description of the feed. Although these are changes you can make yourself directly to the feed with a little technical knowledge, this makes it simple for everyone to apply.

    Feed Reader Chicklets: the code and images required to create the small RSS feed logos relating to each of the main RSS Readers are provided. While not strictly necessary, any method such as this which increases the visibility of your feed on your Blog can only be beneficial to your promotional activities.

    RSS Feed via email: for those people who dont use RSS readers but still want to know when you have updated your blog, there is the option of an email subscription service. Feedburner provides you with the code to create a basic sign up form on your blog and then visitors can use to subscribe to receiving your blog updates automatically via email. A similar service is provided by Feedblitz.

    Headline Animator: this is a small image using an animated gif file, which automatically displays the titles of the last 5 posts from your Blog and allows people to click through a sign up for the feed. It appears in the form of a box (2 formats available) which can be used either in emails or perhaps in online forums etc.

    PingShot: this is an ideal companion to the concept of Post and Ping, where PingShot notifies a number of servers at once that you have published new content on your Blog . No real difference from the other services available at Pingomatic and Pingoat (indeed it works through Pingomatic) but a good extra service.

    How do you do this? Well, just head along to the Feedburner site, sign up for an account and then “burn” a Feed using your current feed, follow the instructions and away you go! There are some useful services there and with RSS destined to become more widespread as the year progresses, set up in the best way you can in readiness.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    I’ve been prompted to share with you some of the places where you can get RSS Readers – which one is for you depends entirely on your preference and the computer you use.

    Just as a quick recap, an RSS feed is a way of keeping up to date with information that you wish to receive by getting it delivered directly to you. To do this, you subscribe to the RSS feed on the website you are interested in using an RSS Reader, also known as a Feed Reader or RSS Aggregator.

    There are a number of different RSS Readers available which vary according to whether you are prefer to use an online reader or one which you can download, and it will also be dependent on the operating system that you are using.

    Some that I recommend that you look at and consider are:

    Online
    Bloglines
    Newsgator
    Google Reader
    My Yahoo

    Offline (Windows)
    Pluck
    Feeddemon
    FeedReader

    Offline (Mac)
    NetNewsWire
    NewsMac Pro

    If you’re after a really comprehensive list of RSS readers then try RSS Compendium – there really are lots to choose from!

    The future

    RSS is going to become more and more widespread and more recognised as time progresses – already it is appearing on more and more sites and should be a no brainer for all blog sites.

    In terms of readers, the major players in the industry are all getting involved. Already, as you can see from the online readers mentioned above, the main Search Engines provide an online RSS reader in their customised homepage which is gaining momentum. This will only intensify as Microsoft will be including a reader as part of the next version of their Internet Explorer browser and FireFox already has one included in their current version which is becoming very popular.

    So if you’re doing research and need to monitor lots of sites for news, or if you want to keep abreast of what is being said about certain industries perhaps for articles in your own blog, then you need to be using an RSS reader so you can see just how easy it can make your life. If you are publishing a blog or a website, then you need to be equally aware that this is increasingly going to be how people read your latest news.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    In a nutshell, RSS is a technology which allows you to have exactly the information you want to read from the internet delivered straight to you. Effectively, having found a source of information that you are interested in, RSS will let you know every time a new piece of information is available and send it to you rather than you having to revisit and check all of the sites looking for it yourself!

    What does RSS mean?

    There are two commonly held views of what RSS stands for – Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. Each of these touches on one of the key uses of RSS. It provides the publisher with a way for other sites to use and hence “syndicate” news and content that has been created and, for the reader, it gives a summary of the updated contents of a favourite site.

    If you want to subscribe to and read an RSS feed, then you will need to have an RSS reader (also known as an RSS aggregator) which will either be one that you have installed on your PC or one which you access online. (More info on RSS Readers here) Then, when you wish to subscribe to an RSS feed, you simply copy the relevant URL of the feed into the reader and everything else is done for you. Couldn’t be simpler!

    Publishing your own RSS Feed

    If you want to publish your own RSS feed so that visitors to your blog can receive an automatic update when you add new posts, then you are in luck. Most blog software creates the feed automatically for you, so all that you have to do is tell people where they can find it – this is usually done with a small orange box with “RSS” or “XML” in it although a new orange icon is likely to become the standard as it has been taken up by a couple of the major players going forward. You will also find branded buttons from Newsgator, Yahoo and the like (as you will see on this site) for people using those RSS readers – however, they all supply the same information so you are just making it easier for your readers to subscribe.

    So, should I use them?

    I would certainly advise using them, both as a reader and a publisher. RSS feeds are a fabulous way of providing information and spreading the word. From the reader’s point of view, they can save hours of work revisiting sites looking for new information and, from a Business Blog’s perspective, they provide a simple way of promoting your blog by sharing the great information directly with the people who want to receive it. A match made in heaven!

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    1 Comment 

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    When you update your Business Blog, then clearly you want to tell people about it so that they come to read what you have posted. There are a number of Search Engines which deal with blogs and also RSS feeds – RSS feeds must < I repeat, must > form a part of any blog worth its name. In order to inform them that you have new information for them to index, the best way is to “ping” them so that they can visit your blog and retrieve the new information and make it available to their users.

    The best way to do this is to incorporate an automatic “ping” into your blog but if that is not available then they are a number of services which can take the pain out of this for you by “pinging” a number of the Search Engines for you. Two of these are Pingomatic and Pingoat which will inform a number of the relevant engines for you. Another option is to use a relatively new service introduced by FeedBurner called PingShot which is part of their free service at the moment.

    Whichever way you decide to do it, you need to tell the Search Engines that there is new content available so either integrate this into your blog or get into the habit of POSTING and then PINGING!

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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