When most folks think of RSS feeds, the image of a little orange square comes to mind. But, there’s much more to know about feeds, including how they can improve your SEO, increase your readership, and automate your promotion chores.
There are actually three parts to a feed. They are:
- The subscription link.
- The feed delivery service.
- The feed reader (not to be confused with the person who is viewing the feed, which we’ll call the viewer).
The Subscription Link
The feed subscription link is usually a logo or text link placed in the sidebar or header of a blog. When viewers subscribe to the feed, new blog posts will be delivered to them instantly and automatically without them having to go to the blog to view it. More on how they receive it in a moment.
The Delivery Service
The posts are delivered from the blog to the viewer through your WordPress website or via a feed service. The top service is FeedBurner. It’s free and is owned by Google. Burning a feed means that the blog post is auto-formatted to be compatible with any application the viewer uses to read it. FeedBurner also offers multiple ways to customize and optimize your feeds as well as giving you valuable stats on your subscribers. FeedBlitz is another top service. It is a paid service, but offers much deeper statistics and easy data export features.
The Feed Reader
One of the applications a viewer can use is known as a reader. There are three basic reader formats. The first is email. A viewer can choose to have your blog posts delivered directly to their inbox.
The second is an aggregator. This is the application that is generally referred to as a “feed reader.” It allows the viewer to build a virtual newspaper from multiple feeds all in one location. In other words, the viewer can go to their feed reader and view all posts from multiple blogs without having to visit each individual blog. They never miss a blog post. But, unless they remember to view it every day, they may not get the most time-sensitive information quickly. One of the most popular aggregators is Google Reader.
The third application delivers posts to Internet-compatible phones. Blog posts must be formatted correctly to be read on small screens. They must also be optimized properly for quick upload to these devices. Services like FeedBurner auto-format the feed to match the viewer’s device.
Syndicate Your Blog Posts
RSS actually stands for “Really Simple Syndication” meaning that your feed is also made available for posting in other sites. There are many sites on the internet that are hungry for good material. If they like your posts, they can subscribe to your feed and repost it on their site, giving you a much broader audience.
Get Your Blog on Facebook
One of the best features of a feed is the ability to easily import your blog posts to your Facebook page and other social media sites. It’s important to display your content where your readers are most likely to see it. Social media marketing is seeing the biggest jump in activity among all online marketing promotion strategies.
There are a few good apps available to automate the whole process for sending your feed to social media sites. Apps change all the time, so be sure to do a search for the latest and best to use on each platform.
See the Related Posts section below to learn more about RSS Feeds and FeedBurner.