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Starting an RSS feed

Intro

I had heard a lot of good things about RSS feeds ang blogs, and that starting one was a very good idea for traffic, return visitors and alike. With Yahoo starting a new RSS directory, i thought that it was more than time to get my feeds into action. Firstly I had to figure out what an RSS feed was exactly, most of the pages I found about RSS left me more confused. Eventually it clicked, a I understood what an RSS feed was. Then I set about finding out how ones made, I found the XML specification, which looked rather daunting. I looked for some free software for making one, but what I found was quite complicated to setup and use, and I'm a programmer! I thought what was needed was a simple piece of software that made making an RSS feed easy. Then a clear cut step by step guide of how to setup the feed, and make it work for you. So here we go, I couldn't find it so I decided to make it myself! I've put together a piece of software that is easy to setup and use, and makes the RSS feed(s) for you, and this guide telling how to put it all together.

So what is an RSS feed?

An RSS feed is very much like a bulletin board. You post an article with a headline, and visitors can view and read through your articles. Often readers are encouraged to add comments to the articles. What's special about RSS is that the articles are available as a feed. This means that the readers don't have to come to you to get the latest news, you send it to them (you don't actually send anything, read on). The feed is an XML version of your articles, which can be read by RSS readers. Basically visitors to your site that use an RSS reader can subscribe to your feed by adding your feeds XML file to their readers list. Then whenever you update your feed with a new article the reader automatically gets notified. An RSS feed is also know as a Blog for those of you who have wondered what a Blog is. If this is still sounding a bit alien to you, download an RSS reader, I chose RSS reader (no reason why, just sounded straight forward) there is a good list of available readers here. Grab the URL from one of the feeds at the bottom of this page, and you'll see how it works.

So what do I need to do to set one up?

Firstly you'll want to decide what's it's going to be about, this has to be something related to your sites content if you want your feed to be useful. My feed for this site is "free cgi scripts news". Once you know what your articles are going to be about you want to get some easy to use software that'll do it for you. I've developed CosmicSimpleRSS, free rss software based on our free BBS script. I makes setting up an RSS feed or create blog for your site as simple as it's going to get, and it's completely FREE. It creates you a feed in RSS 1 and RSS 2, which should be more than enough to please most RSS readers. The software provides a guide for setting up your feed. Once you have your feed in place the next step will guide you through getting your feed noticed, and adding it to your site so that the search engines, and browsers know it's there.

How do I get subscribers?

Now that you've got your feed you'll want to start signing up subscribers. The first steps for doing this are getting the feed links on your site.

  1. Add your feed to your HTML page as a link tag in your head area. So between <head> and </head> at the top of your page add:-
    <link href="http://www.cosmicscripts.com/rss/rss1.xml" rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Free cgi scripts news as RSS 1" />
    <link href="http://www.cosmicscripts.com/rss/rss2.xml" rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Free cgi scripts news as RSS 2" />
    This will let browsers and search engines know where to find your RSS feed(s).
  2. Add RSS buttons to your page so that visitors can see and choose your feed. Popular graphics for this are:-
    RSS feed 2 RSS feed 2 RSS feed 2 RSS feed 1 RSS feed 2 RSS feed 2 RSS feed 2
    Link these buttons direct to your RSS XML feed.
  3. Add a button for MyYahoo so that Yahoo uses can add your directly to their home page.
    Add to My Yahoo! Add to My Yahoo!
  4. Get yourself listed in the new Yahoo RSS directory. I found this yahoo guide helpful.
  5. Submit your RSS feed to all the RSS and Blog directories and search engines that you can find. I found that site had enough to keep me busy.
  6. Keep your feed updated, and don't fill it full of commercial promotions. Readers can unsubscribe to your feed at will, so to keep them you'll have to give them information that they want to hear.

That's it. I hope this guide has helped! If you are thankful and want to give something back to me then please look through the free scripts offered on this site, and subscribe to one or more of my RSS feeds:-

Free cgi scripts news RSS feed "Free cgi scripts news" The RSS feed for this site.
CGI website software news RSS feed "CGI website software news" The RSS feed for CosmicPerl.com.
Affiliate marketing news RSS feed "Affiliate marketing news" The RSS feed for AllAffiliatePro.com.

     
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