What RSS Can Do For You & Your Business

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Don’t be afraid of RSS. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be the most advanced Web user, you can understand and use RSS to your advantage every day! We promise.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and refers to a family of Web feed formats. A “feed” is a rapid method of syndicating frequently updated content, such as blog entries, news headlines, or podcasts. There are many types of feeds, but RSS is currently most widely used.

What are “feeds” used for?

RSS enables feed subscribers to be notified whenever new information is published in that feed or on a particular subject within that feed. But rather than receiving that news on paper or even as an E-mail, Web feeds automatically update and appear in a feed reader, which may be integrated into your Web browser. When a user views a feed, they may see either the full article text or a group of headlines with a summary of content from an associated Web site. Typically a user can click on a topic to explore it further.

How does RSS benefit me?

Subscribing to RSS feeds makes it possible to automatically stay up-to-date with your favourite Web sites without spending the time and effort involved in visiting each site manually to see if new information has been posted.

Being subscribed to an RSS feed also has significant benefits over being subscribed to an E-mail mailing list, such as:

  • E-mail marketing is proactively sent to the subscriber’s Inbox at each and every interval that a sender deems necessary. However, an RSS feed presents the information more passively, allowing you to view it at a time convenient to you.
  • Individual RSS feeds are usually organized by narrow topics within a Web site, thereby presenting you with only those items which are within a specific topic scope you have opted to receive. For example, a news Web site may have a general feed, but also offer individual feeds for top stories, sports, weather, local, finance, and so on, so that you can subscribe to receive just the information that is useful to you.
  • Unlike E-mail, you can choose to simply ignore any feed item without having to take an action, such as deleting it or moving it to another folder.
  • Because you do not need to disclose your name or E-mail address in order to subscribe, an RSS feed will not increase your exposure to threats associated with some E-mail subscriptions, such as spam, viruses or phishing.
  • If you do not wish to receive a particular feed anymore, you can simply delete the feed from your list rather than needing to go through the “unsubscribe” process.
  • Finally, feeds can help you stay better organized! Unlike an E-mail subscription which will blindly dump messages into your Inbox in whatever order they arrive, a feed automatically stays sorted within its list, keeping your feed subscriptions totally separate from your business E-mail.

How do I access RSS feeds?

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Usually, a site will indicate it contains feeds by displaying this universal symbol or another small RSS icon. Orange is the standard colour to represent RSS content availability. You can typically click on the symbol (or an obvious RSS link) to view the current feed in your regular browser window without subscribing.

To receive an RSS feed, you will need to subscribe using a feed reader, or aggregator. There are Web-based feed readers; also integrated readers, such as My Yahoo! My MSN or Google Reader; others get installed on your local computer; or you can receive your feeds in Outlook 2007. However, the most accessible method is to use the feed list built into a current browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 or Mozilla Firefox.

A simple way to subscribe using Internet Explorer

  1. When you visit a site that offers RSS, the orange RSS icon on the top right of your browser window will illuminate. Click on that icon to visit a page containing the feed.
  2. Once on a feed page, you will be able to subscribe to it by clicking on Subscribe to this feed on the yellow page banner. That’s it!

Having subscribed to a feed, it will automatically check for new content. To view your feeds in Internet Explorer 8, click the Favorites button, and then click Feeds.

What sort of content is available through RSS?

There are endless feeds to suit your personal or business interests, some of which include photo or video elements. Some broadly appealing feeds are news headlines offered by CBC, CTV or CNN. The Weather Network offers weather feeds for your locale (for example Kitchener).

E Media Architects offers several feeds for different purposes. For example:

  • You can subscribe to be instantly notified of server upgrades or downtime by clicking on the RSS symbol in the right column of our Help page.
  • You can receive RSS notification of new articles as they are published on our Web site by subscribing through the footer on our Web site — even opting to receive it to your standard E-mail account should you prefer to do so.

What can RSS do for my business?

When used to convey relevant and useful information, you can view RSS as a totally free advertising tool that will regularly keep your company’s unique offerings before the public. If you have any regularly updated content on your Web site — news items, a newsletter, specials, promotions, events, articles, tips, or a blog/journal — these can be turned into convenient RSS feeds for current and potential customers. Your understanding and utilizing recent technologies, such as RSS, communicates that you are a progressive business that is interested in meeting your customers’ current needs.

Talk to us to find out how RSS can succeed for you.

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