To Keep Your Website Fresh With RSS
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. I often don't have the time
to add new content. You have to be original, creative, organized,
thoughtful and motivated, and above all, able to write. So what's
a website owner or business owner supposed to do? RSS may be the
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
RSS feeds are operated by many news web sites, weblogs, schools,
"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 and look at the bottom of the right-hand column under
the title 'Latest Tech News'. This is actually two RSS feeds from
Think about this. 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 every time they browse
to our site, the content is exactly 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 regularly surf the Web and record
what's there. That recording goes into the search engine's databases
ready to be accessed by the next searcher. This process is called
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, then 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
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, the RSS feed grabbed it from another site
that had somebody else write 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 websites displaying that feed, including
RSS feeds 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 grouping of changing or growing data.
How Do I Set An RSS Feed Up?
There are a number of ways in which you can display an RSS feed
all by search engines when they come and index your site, so don't
Instead, use a script that can be handled by your Web server besides
your Web server uses and what software or modules are loaded onto
the machine. This will determine what scripting language you can
use for your RSS.
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 displays RSS feeds and recognized by search engines.
Even if your Web server is Microsoft-based, the server can still
have PHP capability, so you could probably still use a PHP script.
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
Which one would you choose? Try a few and see which ones run on
your server. If one runs on your server properly, and you check
this by simply seeing if it displays RSS feeds, then use that one.
When you download the script, look at the code and find where to
add an RSS feed URL. There should be a dummy one in there already,
so just replace that one with the RSS feed you want to use. Here's
what a typical RSS feed URL looks like: http://www.nytimes.com/services/xml/rss/userland/Technology.xml
The URL's often end in '.rss' as well.
After we inserted the RSS feed URL into the script, we wanted to
display the feed in HTML 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:
Keep in mind that this is for a Windows Web server. The way in
which 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
You can also do a search for your topic and RSS feeds. For example,
search for "RSS feeds and pets', or 'football and RSS feeds',
or 'small business news feeds'. Finally, you can go to specific
websites that are related to your industry and look for one of the
orange RSS symbols like the ones below. Click on that and you'll
get a feed URL to enter into your RSS feed script.
Remember, always be sure to include feeds that are relevant to
your website's content. Once you get the hang of the concept, RSS
can be a lot of fun, and definitely keeps your website fresh and
updated, just what search engines like, and more importantly, what
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