Saturday, July 11, 2009

What's the point of RSS?

This may sound like a stupid question to those that use it, but having just started using it myself I can understand the perspective.  RSS seems to confusing and pointless when you don't know anything about it.  In reality, it's rather simple, and extremely powerful.

RSS is a method of delivering your content, whether in full or partial, to an external source (a visitor's RSS reader or another web site) without them having to visit your site.  Having just become an RSS fan with my favorite reader, SharpReader, I now understand the importance of this increased usability.  I post news on our gaming network and have over 40 feeds that I check every day.  If I were to check each of these sites every day, it would take hours and I wouldn't do it.  By having these RSS feeds these sites are ensuring that their content is delivered to me whether I check their site or not.  Generally, RSS feeds only contain a snipplet, or preview and a Read More link to visit their web site.

But what about losing traffic?  The answer is, you're not losing traffic.  Of the sites I have feeds for I would essentially only check a handful of them if it weren't for the feeds but because of the feeds I am kept up to date on all of them.  And with FeedBurner (now owned by Google) offering to track the number of subscribers I can't think of a reason why you wouldn't have an RSS feed on your site.

If you want to add one, I have posted a Valid RSS 2.0 Generator Class you can use.

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