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A Simple Guide To RSS And Blogging

by Neil Shearing

OK, let's get the geek-stuff out of the way...

RSS is just a new way of spreading news.

There. I've said it. The geeks will hate me because I've dared to make something so complicated so simple.

Right, so RSS is just a new way of spreading news.

* Got a news site? Make your headlines into a "news feed" using RSS.

* Got a sports site? Make a "latest scores" feed using RSS.

* You want to market to people? Create a "marketer's info" feed using RSS.

Question: Why should I bother creating an RSS feed?

Because of the advantages of communicating via RSS. People who sign up to accept your RSS feed will ALWAYS get your latest messages without spam filters, virus e-mails, blacklists and other 'nasties' getting in the way.

You can't be accused of spamming people because only they can sign up for your feed and they can remove your feed instantly in their RSS reader's settings.

Question: If this is so cool, why isn't it well known?

Because the end-user (the person subscribing to the RSS feeds) needs an RSS reader, and until Microsoft bundle one with Windows, it will take a while for RSS to become mainstream. By the way, just because you don't know much about it, doesn't mean RSS isn't huge!

Question: So RSS feeds can be read by someone with an RSS reader. Can RSS be used anywhere else?

Yes. RSS feeds can be used in web pages. Let's say I create an RSS marketing feed. You can read my feed in your RSS reader, but you could also put my RSS feed into your web page to display to your visitors.

Fresh content for you...greater readership for me. A win-win situation. Plus, the RSS feed is pulled automatically into your web page, so no further effort is needed after you set it up.

Question: How does this work with blogs?

Ahh, great question. Blogs are similar to RSS feeds in that the blog owners are displaying their content direct to the public via their web page (blog).

You can visit their web page (blog) to read their thoughts. As long as the blog publisher offers their content as an RSS feed, you could also incorporate their blog into your web pages, as mentioned above, or read their blog in a dedicated RSS reader without having to visit the web page (blog) each time.

Question: So RSS can be thought of as the power behind blogs, syndicated website content and a spam-free communication channel?

Yes, you've got it. RSS is nothing more than a new way to spread news. You can send the news to your blog, to someone else's web page or to someone's dedicated RSS reader. You're just spreading your message via RSS instead of using the two old methods...e-mail and static web pages.

(Technical aside: While I like the simple definition of "spreading news", RSS actually works by allowing your published feed to be 'pulled' into a web page, a feed reader or a blog. So it's a 'pulling' of information rather than you 'spreading' your information...that's why spam complaints can't arise...the end user pulls your information to them using can't get more 'opt-in' than requesting each piece of information!)

Question: So how can I use RSS to make money?

Well, consider yourself a trailblazer because RSS isn't mainstream yet. But, when it does go mainstream, you'll be in prime position!

For now, you can use blogs to get your old sites (and new sites) indexed by Google quickly and for free. You can use RSS to get into the new Yahoo directory quickly and for free. You can run RSS feeds alongside your e-mail lists, and people who sign up for the RSS feed will be guaranteed to get your information. You can use other people's RSS feeds in your web pages to add quality content and provide "bait" for the search engine spiders to visit your site, resulting in more traffic and sales. Dr Mani has tons of ideas on how to make money with RSS.

Question: Will RSS replace e-mail?

My one big concern about the future of RSS is that people will still need e-mail. For example, simple e-mail exchanges can't be done by RSS. Your payment receipts for purchases probably won't be sent via RSS. It's not a one-to-one communication's more like an e-mail list replacement for sending information to lots of people/websites.

So, if e-mail remains, presumably e-mail marketing will too...which leaves RSS as an alternative to an established solution (e-mail), making it much harder for RSS to gain acceptance. If the combined power of Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and others find a solution to the spam epidemic by implementing an e-mail authorization process, RSS may not be necessary.

I can see RSS gaining popularity as people seek out information sent using RSS because of the control they exert over the information.

What I mean by that is, people sign up for feeds and drop feeds anonymously. If they like the content from a feed, they keep getting it. If they don't like the content from a feed, they drop it. So people will select which marketers they want to hear from based on the content of their feeds.

If marketers send out poor information, no one will read it. This will be a huge problem for lazy marketers...only feeds with top-quality content will keep their subscribers. Imagine that you only subscribe to a dozen marketing feeds...but there are hundreds if not thousands of marketers trying to be one of those dozen feeds you subscribe the marketers must pump out top quality content frequently to retain their subscribers...that alone should make for a huge shake-up in the Internet marketing world!

If people only give out their e-mail addresses to trusted companies and individuals and sign up for RSS feeds for more general information, their e-mail box should remain spam free.

Question: What are the advantages of RSS compared to e-mail?

1) It's spam-free, as described above which is good for the information creator as well as the receiver.

2) The user is in total control of what feeds they receive.

3) You can syndicate into other people's web pages for greater readership and links.

4) End user gets instant notification of new posts to any RSS feeds they're subscribed to.

Question: What are the disadvantages of RSS compared to e-mail?

1) Lack of personalisation. Marketer's can't (yet) add "firstname", "lastname", "signupdate" or any other information personal to the reader of the RSS feed because signup is anonymous.

2) No ability to reply to the author. In e-mail, it's possible to hit "reply" and send a message back to the sender. In RSS, that isn't possible, so exchange of information is more difficult. RSS is "broadcast" not "receive".

3) RSS is not "trackable". You can't know who is on your "list", or even how many people get your feed! (actually, if you re-publish your feed through FeedBurner you can get some statistics. I haven't tried this, but it seems interesting).

Question: I've heard about putting RSS feeds in my pages for more traffic? Does that work?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, you can use software to import other people's RSS feeds into your web pages.

Yes, it may gain you traffic to pages which you put up on your site containing the feeds. But you need to be aware that other people are writing that content with the aim of syndicating it to others...and are hoping to bring traffic to their site.

So, you may generate traffic, only to see it all being syphoned off to the site of the person supplying the content. If you can convince the visitor to come to your page (because of the syndicated content on it), but not leave to visit the site of the person supplying the content, then you have a chance of monetizing that visitor.

Otherwise, you're just getting more traffic to your site and passing it along to the site of the person supplying the RSS feed.

You may be familiar with those JavaScript-based feed codes...little statements which webmasters encourage you to copy and paste in your web page so that you get updated content streamed from their sites to your page. making it 'newsy'. The principle is the same with RSS.

By the same token, you would probably be better off writing content for an RSS feed and offering it to people to incorporate into their pages and get more traffic to your site from your syndicated content.

Question: What about Blogs? Aren't they important?

Well, blogs are just like a diary/journal of someone's comments/thoughts, but posted online. Personally, I don't think blogs are great from a blog visitor's point of view.

If someone's creating a blog, get them to flick the switch to turn it into an RSS feed, then I can sign up to read it on my RSS reader (along with all the other feeds I'm interested in) without having to visit their blog/website. The only reasons to use blogs are for blog publishers...

1) to create fresh online content for your site so that search engine's will list your pages quickly and have more to index. An RSS feed alone won't create content for your website, but a blog does. The more content you have, the more search engines will like your site and rank it highly.

2) if you don't know how to build a website (or even a web page), you can quickly and easily get information online by starting a blog. It's very, very easy to get started with a blog...much easier than building a website or web page.

From a blog reader's point of view, it's difficult to find previously posted information in blogs and tiresome to have to visit the blog to read each update...RSS readers are a much better way to keep up-to-date with the information the blog publisher is sending out.

Question: Cool. Where can I learn more?

I've been digging around RSS and found some great resources on the topics of RSS/Blogs...

1) Gatecrashing Google: My own report on how I got a blog into Google in 48 hours, for free, AND got an old site of mine re-indexed at the same time!

2) RSS Made Easy by Adrian Ling: I've known Adrian for a long time. He's a great guy, and a good friend of mine. I've exchanged several e-mails with him over the topic of RSS and he's definitely "clued up" on how to get additional traffic and sales from RSS marketing. His e-book includes tips on making a profit from RSS as well as how to get into Yahoo's new directory for free using RSS.

3) RSS Equalizer: Software that pulls other people's RSS feeds into your web-pages for new content. I know the author of this product, Jeff Alderson and have exchanged e-mails with him in the past. I have not yet tested RSS Equalizer.

4) FeedReader: This is a Windows application which allows you to read RSS feeds from your desktop. It's a great time-saver over having to visit several different websites for breaking news and latest blog comments.

5) NewsGator: A free RSS Reader Plugin for Microsoft Outlook. I haven't tried this plugin.

6) FireFox: This is the new browser which is taking market share from Internet Explorer. Not only can you open different browser "tabs" but you can also view RSS feeds. Great if you're looking for an IE-alternative.

7) FeedForAll Software to create and publish your own RSS feeds. I have tried this software, and managed to publish my own RSS with it... I was amazed at how simple it was!

I hope you enjoyed this report!

Neil Shearing is no stranger to anyone familiar with Internet Marketing. His Private Success Site contains huge amounts of top-quality marketing info and experts standing by to help people sell their products and services. It's been a big hit and some people have referred to it as the best Internet Marketing site online!


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Tuesday, 20 Mar 2018 03:47 PM


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