There are quite a few common questions about RSS feed, such as what is an RSS feed, where does an RSS feed come from, and most importantly, how to make use of an RSS Feed.
Here those questions will all be answered. This article is written primarily for a WordPress website owner who wants to fully understand and get the maximum benefit from RSS feeds.
Lets start with the definition of RSS; RSS originally stands for RDF Site Summary, which was then renamed Rich Site Summary, and is now most commonly known as Really Simple Syndication. The actual definition does not really matter, what matters is that we understand what it is.
An RSS feed might be considered similar to a news-wire service, that people can subscribe to, for free. Millions of people all over the world use this service to keep up to date with their favourite websites.
To help explain the concept a little better, consider what it was like before RSS feeds came along. People had to use their internet browsers to bookmark all their favourite websites, then make a point of returning to visit all of these websites regularly to check for any new updates. That kind of manual system can be tedious, and things often get overlooked using this method.
But with RSS feed, things become a lot simpler. People just subscribe to the feeds of their favourite websites, then whenever any new information is posted on those websites, the people are informed automatically through their chosen reader. That makes it a whole lot simpler than the previous manual method.
So now hopefully you understand the whole concept of feed a little better, and you can appreciate just how useful this service really is.
If you have a website, wouldn’t it be great to be able to produce your very own feed?
Well, with WordPress, this feature is automatically built in. If you have your own website built using WordPress, which I wholeheartedly encourage (as you should know by now if you have read any of my other articles), then your website is already generating your very own RSS feed..
That’s worth repeating just to be absolutely clear: WordPress creates RSS feeds automatically.
Now that you realise this, let me show you some ways to take advantage of it.
Firstly, as a WordPress website owner, you do not need to be too concerned with feed readers. There are a lot of different feed reading programs available, and each person usually has their own favourite one. That need not concern us, all that concerns us is controlling the feed that we send out from our website.
Secondly, as a WordPress website owner, you do not need to be concerned with the technicalities of feed, such as how it is created or what format is used. Feed is normally produced in XML format, similar to the way XML site-maps are generated. This is just some behind-the-scenes trivia for you.
Here are some options that are available to you:
Option 1: Do nothing. This is not the recommended option, but you can definitely do this, and let me explain how it works. In most modern internet browsers, the little orange feed icon is usually visible somewhere in the top of the screen, up among the toolbars, most likely at the right-hand side of the address bar. It varies depending on which browser is being used. If you let the mouse hover over this icon, it will usually read “Feed List” or “View Feeds” or something similar.
Internet surfers who are aware of this feature can choose to click that icon, and then subscribe to your feed through their favourite reader.
Note that not every website has an RSS feed, so if the icon is not there, then maybe that is the reason. For example, the Google website www.google.com does not have any regular feed. But most websites which publish information will have RSS feed(s).
Another thing that internet-savvy users can do is to check for RSS feed by typing it into the address bar, as follows: the address for this website is http://earnextramoney.catagry.com. If you add “/feed” onto that address in the address bar, it becomes http://earnextramoney.catagry.com/feed. This is another way that people can manually check for RSS feed from your website.
Overall as an option, this is not a very good one if you hope to get subscribers. The majority of people will be unaware of these methods, and also many people will have only their preferred toolbars visible, and may never see your RSS icon.
Option Two: Use an RSS Feed Widget. Most WordPress installations will have one standard RSS widget automatically installed (there may be more as part of your theme). All you have to do is customise it, and then display it.
Login to your WordPress dashboard and click the Widgets option inside Appearance. Look in the list of available widgets or inactive widgets, and find one just called RSS. To use this widget, just drag it into the sidebar, then click the little drop-arrow on the right hand side to open it up.
You can then enter the required information about your RSS feed.
- Enter the RSS feed URL here: In here you put the feed address URL, something like http://earnextramoney.catagry.com/feed, just change the website name to your own website.
- Give the feed a title (optional): If you leave this blank, it will automatically insert your website title.
- Extra Options: Extra options are also available such as how many entries to display, and how to display them, fairly self-explanatory.
When you save this and view your website, you will see the RSS heading, followed by a list of recent posts.
If you want to display only the orange RSS icon, you will have to find another widget. There are a multitude of different widgets that you can use for this purpose. To add one, you will need to go to Plugins, Add new, and just search for something like “RSS widget”. Read through the descriptions until you find one that you like.
Option Three: Use Google Feedburner. This is probably the best option of all. You get simple customisation options and an easy method of displaying whatever you want, including email and tracking. This will be covered in detail in the next article on RSS feeds, where the benefits are fully described, along with any possible drawbacks.
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Filed Under: RSS Feed