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!