RSS feeds may not be as popular as they once were, but they’re still quite relevant. With social media and email subscriptions, younger Internet users get the latest updates for a specific website directly in their feed or inbox. Still, it’s important to know the basics of RSS feeds and their advantages, especially if you work in the tech industry.
In a recent project, we were tasked with creating RSS feeds for a website with Insights that had multiple categories and locations. With RSS feeds, we were able to create feeds that users could follow to see the latest blog posts and podcasts for a specific category. Instead of visiting the website multiple times to find new content or search through a crowded social media timeline, RSS feeds send tailored content directly to the user.
There are various RSS feeds, however, I think it’s important to explain the details of XML. XML, or extensible markup language, allows you to add structured data to their content using tags. This form of structured data also makes it easy for search engines to understand your website. You can use structured data to indicate authors, headlines, subheadlines, lists, etc. An XML sitemap takes that same concept and combines all of that structured data into a single sitemap that will allow search engines to index your sites by simply crawling a single sitemap. XML feeds translate the content on your blog for search engines at a more granular level. Even if new content is added to your blog, your XML feed will automatically update as well.
RSS feeds, or rich site summary, use an XML file format to translate your content through feed readers. As described above, RSS feeds take a website’s latest content and send it straight to you via email or a feed reader, like Feedburner. For a recent project, we created RSS feeds that syndicate through Feedburner, powered by Google. People can subscribe to RSS feeds through your website. Most blog or news listings include an icon that looks like this:
Users can click this icon, enter their information, and receive the latest content based on categories, locations, or whatever filter you have in place to organize your content. In addition, Feedburner, and most feed readers, keep track of who subscribes to your feeds. This data is great for marketers and content creators. If more people subscribe to blog posts about cooking as opposed to gardening, marketers know how to target audiences and content creators can focus on churning out relevant posts or improve content for less popular topics.
Other feed readers include WordPress feeds. If your website is built in WordPress, you already have a feed reader at your disposal. This allows you to manage your own RSS feeds and alter them the way you want. In addition, Feedly and Flipbook are among the most popular feed readers.
What’s Next for RSS Feeds?
While RSS feeds are still in use, they’re becoming less popular with the use of social media and email subscriptions. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn bring you the latest news from a site if you follow their profile. The downside: you might not always catch the post in your feed on time or you have to sift through a sea of posts to find what you want. In this case, RSS feeds are still advantageous for users. Additionally, RSS feeds allow you to tailor your content so that users get exactly what they want. In a recent build for Ogletree Deakins, we created RSS feeds for the various categories they have in place to organize their content. With over 100 lawyers writing content, an RSS feed is much more accessible. And while each category doesn’t have a specific social media profile, an RSS feed reader brings you that content so that you don’t have to visit the site each day or go the site’s main social media profile to find the content you want.
Thus, RSS feeds aren’t as widely used, but they are still beneficial for your site! Sevaa Group can build RSS feeds for your content and ensure that users have the ability to access them through whatever means you find necessary.