Using RSS on Your Website

October 12, 2007 at 6:58 pm Leave a comment

Tightened marketing budgets. Increased scrutiny of cost per conversion. So much attention to marketing spend. Imagine if there were a cheap, practically free, way to reach potential customers.

Yes, here it comes: RSS. If you work in high tech, there’s no way you haven’t heard of RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Version 0.9 was created at Netscape in 1999 (Did Netscape also create the 0.9 version number convention that seems so commonplace today?). But I’d say RSS didn’t really take off in a big way until blogging became hot, which was when, 2003 or 2004?

Which brings me back to the point of this article. RSS is built into blogs, so you get it for free. But RSS is not necessarily built into your Website. And if you are not using it there, you are missing out on a great syndication tool.

You see, you can have all the press releases on your site syndicated via RSS. And you don’t have to stop there. At my current company, we also re-syndicate articles about us, new online demos, new collateral. Anything that can be linked to, given a title and a short description can be syndicated.

All you need to do is put an XML file on your site that contains the title, description and link to new content. Jeremiah Patton has a good summary on how to do it here. Then when you look at your page in Firefox, a little orange RSS icon RSS Icon will appear to the right in the Location Bar. Adding new content just requires someone to edit the file and prepend your new content.

Now a few important things can happen. First, users who want to keep track of things (e.g. your company, your product) can click on the RSS icon and subscribe to your content. Blog search engines (yes, a bit of a misnomer here) will find your content. You can also “ping” content aggregators to let them know when you have new content. A really easy way to do this is via the mother of all ping servers Ping-o-Matic.

There’s more detail we could go into, but that’s basically it. Try this out and see what it does for your content. Do you get more visitors? Exposure in places you haven’t been seen before?

I want to add a few interesting tidbits I heard last night at a blogging panel put on by SVAMA. Michael Sippey from SixApart (TypePad, MoveableType et al) made the point that the 20-30 year old demographic is not big on e-mail, and that blogs and RSS (along with IM) are a much better way to reach them. Chris Heuer from the Social Media Club recounted a story from his wife, where syndication of a product release (via Twitter, not RSS, but the same idea) brought in 8 deals where the conventional newswire brought in 0.

We’ll be getting into more detail on RSS, but get started and at least create a feed for your press releases. Hey, it’s free. I will say that, while the protocol may be simple, creating a feed for an existing Web site and seamlessly making it part of your marketing mix is not quite as simple as it could be.  Something we’ll dig into in future posts.

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Entry filed under: Blogging, RSS, SEO. Tags: , , .

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