Have you noticed those icons on websites? Do you wonder what they mean?
Icons such as these appear on blog sites to let you know when there is an RSS Feed available that you can subscribe to. Web designers customize these buttons to suit the colour scheme and site layout but they all mean the same thing.
What is RSS?
The term “RSS” (Really Simple Syndication) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Blogs and news sites syndicate their content by RSS.
Why use RSS?
It is fast and efficient! RSS allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually to see what content might have changed since your last visit.
How do I read an RSS Feed?
- You need a home for reading your feeds. There are free web-based feed readers available. My Yahoo, Bloglines, and Google Reader are popular readers. I use Google-reader to read and share content. You can also use a personal home page through iGoogle. By adding widgets you can keep track of many things such as Google-reader feeds, delicious, facebook, twitter and news all in one place.
- You need to subscribe to content. Once you have your Feed Reader, it is a matter of finding sites that syndicate content and subscribing to add their RSS content to the list of feeds your Feed Reader checks. Look for the RSS icon to let you know a feed is available.
How can an RSS benefit my blog or website?
- As a blog publisher you want people to subscribe to your feed to receive your updates. Add a link next to your RSS button that says “What is RSS?” and link to this post to help your site visitors understand RSS.
- You can also use RSS feeds to publish content to your website or blog. Widgets and Gadgets are bits of code that can be inserted into a website or blog that will display feed content. You can also use a service that creates customized scripts such as FeedBurner to display feeds on a website. FeedBurner is a free service that creates a script that can be copied and inserted into your website or blog. Many feed publishers offer scripts for their feeds.
- Blogs are designed for RSS but websites generally do not create RSS feeds automatically. You can use a service such as RSS Builder to add topics, links, content, and enclosures, then publish the RSS feed to your web server
If you still don’t quite get it… have a look at these youtube videos.
This video explains Google Reader: