Understanding RSS/ATOM Feeds

Understanding RSS/ATOM Feeds

Document 7008  ¦  Last updated:  01/04/2017 AAB

The Internet is the largest information outlet the world has ever known.  Across the World Wide Web, there are countless sites that publish information on just about every topic you can imagine.  Many of these sites are anxious to see their content distributed to the widest possible audience, including on your XSite.

The Real Simply Syndication (RSS) data format was developed to let information providers publish or “syndicate” their content on the internet.  Users can read this content — often called an RSS Feed or simply a web feed — in specially designed “reader” applications, or on web pages that subscribe to the feed.  Every time the publisher updated their content, the reader or website would receive the new information.  (Click here for an example of an XSite with an RSS Feed included.)

RSS feeds provide a great resource for website owners looking for fresh, relevant content to keep their sites interesting to readers.


What is RSS/ATOM

Simply put, RSS is a file format that allows information providers to publish their content over the Internet.  This takes the form of an XML file stored on the publishers website.  Subscribers can then configure their website or RSS reader to point to these files using a simple URL reference (i.e. http://rss.news.yahoo.com/rss/topstories).  XSites include a designated RSS Feeds feature that make it a snap to include any RSS Feed on any XSite page (see below).

All you need to link your site with an RSS Feed is the URL for the RSS file.  If the specific URL is not listed, look for an XML or RSS button on the publisher’s website.  Right‑click this image and choose Copy Shortcut.  You can then paste that URL into the RSS Feed box on your XSite.

Once configured with an RSS Feed, whenever someone opens that page, the latest content from the publisher is displayed.  Thus, your XSite’s content is constantly updated whenever the RSS Feed publisher updates their content.

The ATOM format is similar to RSS, and was developed by users who were not satisfied with the direction RSS was taking.  Information publishers can choose to syndicate their content using either format.  XSites are compatible with both.

Click here for more information on RSS Feeds, their history and their use.


Benefits of RSS

There two primary reasons to put an RSS or ATOM feed on your XSite:

  1. Content is King ‑ One of the best ways to generate business from your XSite is to have potential customers visit your site often, and stick around for a while when they get there.  RSS feeds provide targeted, relevant content for your site, giving them plenty to read.  Plus, since RSS feeds are updated automatically whenever the source content changes, your site will always have fresh information.
  2. Search Engine Placement ‑ One of the criteria search engines use to evaluate your site is the inclusion of relevant, changing information.  By including one or more RSS Feeds on your site, your content is updated constantly with little or no effort.

Finding the right RSS Feed

As mentioned, there are a wealth of RSS feeds available on the Internet.  Locating the content that’s right for your site may be your biggest challenge.  Keep these ideas in mind while looking:

  • Find content that is relevant to the other content on your site.  This provides the greatest benefit for search engine rankings.
  • Look for RSS Feeds with information that would be most interesting to your target customer.
  • Find RSS Feeds with localized information, such as your home town newspaper or real estate board.
  • Don’t overload one page with too many feeds.  While you can put more than one RSS Feed on a page, this is likely to overwhelm readers.  Instead, create more than one page.
  • Make sure you include a Lead Capture form on your RSS pages.

Here are some resources you can check to find appropriate RSS Feeds for your XSite:

Just because an RSS feed is available from a particular publisher does not mean that you’re free to include that feed on your site.  Some publishers may have restrictions on how and where their content is used.  Before you place any RSS Feed on your XSite, make sure you consult the publisher’s website for any such restrictions.

How to use RSS/ATOM feeds

For specific instructions on including an RSS feed on a specific XSite web page, consult the relevant XSite manual below:

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