RSS Feeds are something I, personally, have started using quite extensively about 6 months ago. I now do not know what I would do without them. RSS has many advantages, and few disadvantages in the realm of Web 2.0. Using RSS feeds save me time and effort, as well as create an effective marketing tool for businesses and individuals.
RSS Feeds: an XML based format, RSS Feeds are the Really Simple Syndication of web content, meant to allow users to keep up with their favorite web sites in a time saving, automated manner. These feeds can either be read in readers, or aggregators, or emailed. Using RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that’s easier than checking them manually.
Aggregators: software or a Web application which aggregates syndicated web content, such as blogs, headlines, and vlogs, in one location for easy viewing. This is also called a feed or RSS reader.
I find them extremely useful in not only trying to keep up with my favorite sites, but also keep aware of what the blogosphere is saying about particular topics. I recommend Google Reader as the RSS Reader to use, as it is easy to navigate. However, many RSS feeds are extremely similar. Another Reader I use and would recommend is Bloglines. There are many ways I would suggest using RSS Feeds to complement you and your business.
1. Subscribe to the blogs and websites you look at often. Being notified of changes via your RSS Reader will save you time. Instead of going through your bookmarks to visit the sites, visiting each, and browsing the sites for any changes since your last visit, you can simply open your reader, which will notify you of any new content on these pages.
2. Utilize Google Blog Search’s RSS feature by subscribing to a feed that will deliver results of a blog search to your choice of RSS reader. This enables you to manage you and your company’s reputation (Reputation management) by viewing what those in the blogosphere has to say about the matter. Google makes subscribing to these types of feeds tricky, so I’ve provided step by step instructions to help you with process. Feel free to click the thumbnails of the images in order to see larger screen shots of the steps.
- Visit the Google Blog Search site.
- Search for the term you would like to keep updated on.
- In the left margin of the search results, under “Subscribe,” click RSS.
- Choose the RSS reader you would like to watch the keyword in.
- Your keyword should be added as a feed in your RSS Reader.
3. Broadcast a feed of your blog or a keyword Blog Search on your website to share what others are saying about you and your website with your own viewers.
There are also many things you can do by using RSS feeds on the broadcaster side, but this, we’ll leave to another post. The inspiration for this post was an article I found on my Google Reader: RSS 101. In order to learn more about subscribing and broadcasting with RSS feeds. I highly suggest you read this post in order to understand the concept, as well as visit the many sites he has linked to in order to get started. If you’re a Web 2.0 newbie, learning how to use RSS feeds is a wonderful place for you to start getting your feet wet. It’s easy, it’s useful, and relevant.
Feel free to post any problems and comments right here on this post! Please use me as a resource if you get stuck, or if you have any questions about using RSS feeds for either personal, professional, or company use, as well as identifying the main advantages of RSS feeds. I’d be happy to answer any small or large inquiry or how-to question you may have! Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on this post! Good Luck!
Update 11/13/07: Ron made a good point in his comment below. The RSS Feed of your Blog Search Result can also be emailed to you with Google Alerts. But that’s not the only thing you can keep track of! Google Alert allows you to choose the “type” of search to do on your keyword. This includes:
- Comprehensive (all of the following results)
- Blog Posts,
- the Web,
- Video Results,
- and even relevant Google Groups.
It really is the best way to keep on top of your reputation management! So your inbox doesn’t get overloaded, you can also choose how often the collective results are sent to you, ranging from “as it happens” to once per week. I would recommend trying it out in order to help you keep an eye on yourself, your business, or any other topic you want to stay informed on.