RSS feeds are nothing new; publishers have been using these feeds for years to syndicate content automatically into a standardized format. This is essential for fast-paced, frequently-updated mediums such as blogs, news or video feeds, and more so readers can stay current, and publishers can keep churning out the content. If you don’t have an RSS feed in place, get one. It not only allows readers to control their access of information, it helps boost search rankings, increase traffic, and aids in brand building. How do you create an RSS feed?
As with almost everything, there is more than one way to do this. Sites like ExtraLabs.net generate your feeds for you; the “Feed Wizard” from this site costs about $30 and allows you to create, edit, and publish unlimited RSS feeds quickly. If you want to do it yourself, it takes a little bit of time but has the benefit of being free.
1. Select the items (or content, such as articles, stories, videos, etc.) that you want to include in your feed. They should all fit under the same category.
2. Open a word application, such as WordPad, TextEdit, or Word. For each item that you want to include, write down the title, a short description (no more than one sentence), and the full URL link to the story/post. They will look like this:
Title: SEO: Does Speed Matter?
Description: Discusses the importance of website speed and ways to make your site faster.
3. Next, add XML tags into the word processing document. You can paste it online after, with proper coding in place. Put XML and RSS tags at the beginning of the file, as well as at the end. This looks like:
<?xml version =”1.0”?>
The original feed will be 1.0, and subsequent feeds will be 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, and so on.
4. Now, you have to add tags to the item itself. The title, description, and URL from step 2 will now look like this:
<title>SEO: Does Speed Matter?</title>
<description> Discusses the importance of website speed and ways to make your site faster.</description>
Remember to close the tag by using the / mark.
5. Now, the channel. When you turn to the Cartoon Network, you know it will have all cartoons. You have to create a feed channel that will tell users something about the items and indicates that they are all related. This appears at the top of the file, under the XML and RSS tags as <channel>
6. Add <item> before each new item. Then, on a new line, enter your item information (title, description, URL). Then, on a new line, close the item with </item>. You can then enter a new item by repeating this step.
7. Almost there. Now close out the channel and RSS. After the last </item>, enter:
8. Validate your feed here.
9. Save in XML format (.xml) and then submit to sites like Technorati or Feedster, or subject-specific sites, like Medical Feeds, etc.
10. Rethink an automatic feed building service!