Digging Deep To Get The Most From RSS Technology for Marketing
An integral part of getting the most from RSS is really understanding how RSS works as a technology — basically understanding its structure and how to best use it to get more readership and better search engine rankings.
The good part is that it’s easy and quick to do, without needing any technical expertise and just using standard RSS publishing tools.
A) HOW RSS FEEDS ARE STRUCTURED
RSS feeds contain the basic information about the RSS feed itself and the individual RSS feed content items that actually carry the content you want to deliver to your target audiences or syndicate to other websites.
All of this information is carried within different perscribed RSS feed elements that are used for different purposes.
But how you use these elements may actually define whether you are getting the most from RSS or not.
Now you don’t actually need to know how to create an RSS feed, since your RSS publishing software will do that for you, but you need to know what to put in these elements to make the most from them.
B) RSS FEED ELEMENTS
RSS feed elements describe the RSS feed.
Each element encloses the actual descriptionary information, just like an HTML tag.
The most important elements you need to pay attention to for increasing marketing results are:
1. RSS FEED TITLE
The name of the RSS feed, which will be displayed in the RSS Reader when someone accesses your feed, as well as the search engines and so on.
You need to craft your title so that it stands out among other feeds in your subscribers’ RSS Readers and attracts them, and is at the same time rich with your most important keywords to assure you achieve better search engine placement for your feeds.
2. RSS FEED DESCRIPTION
A short sentence that describes the RSS feed. Just as with the title element, the description needs to attract your target audiences (in many RSS Readers the description is displayed just below the feed title) and at the same time assure better placement within the search engines.
So keep it user-attractive, conveying the main content points covered in your feed and the key benefits for your readers, as well as search-engine-friendly, with your most important keywords.
3. RSS FEED IMAGE
The image element is used to display your logo on the RSS feed presentation in RSS Readers. The default width for the logo is 88 px and the maximum width is 144 px. Default image height is 31 px and the maximum height is 400 px.
Including your logo in your feed will make your feed more memorable for your subscribers, thus helping you increase actual readership, as well as provide additional branding for your business.
C) RSS CONTENT ITEM ELEMENTS
While the RSS feed elements define and describe an RSS feed on the level of the entire feed, individual content item elements describe and carry the actual information you want to deliver to your audiences.
And if there’s any question about it, RSS content items are contained within an RSS feed.
Each content item may then contain some or all of the elements that describe that content item and provide information.
1. RSS CONTENT ITEM TITLE
The title of the specific content item that is of course displayed in the RSS Reader and everywhere else where your content appears.
Your content item titles are one of the most important things in your RSS feed, determening whether your readers will actually read the rest of the content or whether the search engines will rank it high enough for you.
Just think of the title as an e-mail message subject line and webpage title in one. The e-mail subject line is what makes your recipient decide whether he’s going to read the entire message or not. You need to keep it to the point and give just enough information to make it inviting to read on.
The webpage title has much weight with the search engines, helping you get higher rankings for your content for the keywords you’re trying to optimize your webpage for.
The RSS content item title performs both of these functions for you at the same time.
2. RSS CONTENT ITEM LINK
The URL pointing to a webpage on your website where the user can read the entire content of the content item, if you’re publishing your RSS feeds in summary format. A “read more” type of destination.
If you’re publishing your feeds in full-text format the link can serve for archiving purposes, for example if your customers would either want to clickthrough to your site and then bookmark your content in their internet browser.
Of course, if you don’t want to provide a backlink to your site, you don’t have to, as the link element is optional. This could come useful if you’re using your RSS feed meerly as a direct communicational channel to send a quick message to your customers or anyone else, without also providing that content on your website.
But since most RSS users actually expect to be able to clickthrough it’s highly recommended that you always provide the link.
3. RSS CONTENT ITEM DESCRIPTION
This is where the actual body content of the information you’re trying to deliver comes in the actual story you’re trying to tell.
The description element can either be a short summary, or can contain full-text content of the story, with images and almost everything else (there are some restrictions).
Depending on who you ask, some will say that summary feeds are better, while others will vouch their head for full-text feeds. What you decide for actually depends completely on your business model and what you are trying to achieve with RSS. In short, there are no rules.
Also, you might not even need a description.
–> If you just want to deliver headlines of your latest content and have people clickthrough to your site to find out more you could easily do that. This would usually be useful for syndicating your content to other websites, if you didn’t want them to publish anything else but your headline.
–> Or the content you are delivering might not even need a description. For example you could create an RSS feed with the latest stock-market updates where the update would be quickly delivered just using the title element. More on this in later chapters. What you do need to know right now is what kind of content can actually be included if you decide for full-text content.
For starters, if you do it right, standard text formating, such as bolding, works just fine in most RSS Readers, although some may even ignore that. Links within the content and images are also not a problem, although again, some RSS Readers might just ignore them.
But still, most of the new ones won’t, so adding some flavor to your full-text content should not be a problem.
If you want to go even further, even tables in content should work in most cases, actually enabling you to post a full e-zine issue right inside of a single RSS feed content item.
The worst problem is that different RSS Readers will display this content in different ways, some even not displaying tables at all.
And finally, if you want to syndicate your content to other websites, they might just want a summary instead of full-text content, so you might need to prepare a summary version of the feed as well.
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