How Do RSS Feeds Work?
If you’re confounded by that little orange graphic you see on blogs, it’s time to learn all about RSS and how it can benefit your own blog. Most software packages and content management systems offer RSS capablility, but it’s up to you to implement it.
When used properly, RSS feeds are an important part of corporate blog promotion. Let’s take a look first at what RSS is and what it does before we move to the next step.
First, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. This means that it collects the new content that you produce, and makes it available to readers through syndication.
The old method involved emailing people to let them know when you published something new, but RSS completely automates this process.
When you have an RSS feed, this means that all of your new content will be available through it. Your readers will copy that RSS link and then put the link into their RSS software.
Whenever you publish something new, they will get either the entire article, or a snippet, depending on how you have configured your feed. There’s nothing else that you have to do, since the RSS feed takes care of everything for you.
We mentioned RSS software briefly above, so let’s go a little more in depth on how this works. There are thousands of different software packages out there, and they are called RSS readers.
What they do is collect the RSS feeds that a user puts in, and then post content whenever it is updated. Everything is automated and new content can be made available within seconds of publication.
But how does the software know when there is new content? Basically, it requests the feed every so often, and if something has been added since the last request, it will display. This is the manual method and it may take awhile for your content to be delivered, depending on your reader’s settings.
A way to get around this issue is by using a ping service. When you send out a ping, you are basically letting all of these RSS readers know that you have new content.
Think of a ping like a doorbell. You wouldn’t stand on someone’s porch for hours hoping they would open the door. You ring that doorbell to let them know you are there. Pinging works much the same way.
While there are some technical aspects of RSS, we’ll focus on the generalities. If you’re using blogging software like WordPress, or a CMS, you’ll never really have to worry about much.
When you first install that software, you’ll be asked to apply some settings, such as whether or not you want to send out an excerpt, which is recommended, or the full article to your readers. Remember, if you only send an excerpt, they’ll have to go to your site to get the rest of the article.
Most of these blogging utilities will automatically ping for you, so all you have to do is sit back and publish your blog, letting it take care of the rest, and reap the benefits of RSS for you.