Understanding RSS feeds

This document outlines what you need to know about RSS feeds.

Document 7008  |  Last updated:  12/28/2017 RR2

The Internet has countless websites, and they publish information on just about every topic imaginable.  Many of these sites are anxious to see their content distributed to the widest possible audience — including on your XSite!

The Real Simple Syndication (RSS) data format was developed to let information providers publish or “syndicate” their content on the Internet.  Users can read this content in specially designed “RSS reader” applications, or on web pages that subscribe to the feed.  Every time the publisher updates their content, the reader or website receives the new information.

Click here for an example of an XSite with an RSS Feed on the Home page.

What is RSS  |  Benefits of RSS  |  Finding the right RSS feed  |  How to use feeds

What is RSS

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 publisher's 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).  You can include any RSS feed on any XSite page.

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 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. Fresh content ‑ 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 optimization ‑ 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.  Click here to learn more about search engine optimization.

Finding the right RSS feed

There are tons of RSS feeds available on the Internet.  While you look for the content that's right for your site, keep these ideas in mind:

  • Find content that's relevant to the other content on your site.  This is optimal for your search engine ranking.
  • Look for feeds with information that would be most interesting to your target client.
  • Find 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 feed on a page, this can be overwhelming.
  • Make sure you include a Lead Capture form on your RSS pages.
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.  Make sure you consult the publisher’s website for any such restrictions.

How to use feeds

For specific instructions on including an RSS feed on an XSite page, click on a manual below:

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