Feeds, something I think are hotter than tags and other gimmicks on the web today, should be the talk of the web. They are, but not as much as you would think. In an article from E-Marketer, “RSS Advertising May Work Around Spam Issues”, they take a look at the perception and recognition of feeds:
Really Simple Syndication was originally established as a way to distribute news updates to individuals and is now becoming a way for marketers to distribute product alerts and other messages. A small percentage of users are currently familiar with the term, but that number is about to grow higher as marketers begin to experiment further with RSS and perhaps one day make it a significant way to reach online customers.
According to a recent study study by Pew Internet & American Life Project, it turns out that roughly 9% of users are familiar with RSS.
This may be optimistic. Another report, from Ipsos Insight commissioned by Yahoo!, shows that the percentage of users who are aware of RSS is about 4%.
Feeds are an awesome way to get the news, information, and articles you want from websites, especially blogs, fast and easy. Every day I encounter people who still don’t know what a feed is, or how it might help them.
What is a Feed?
A feed is another way of viewing web pages. If you are reading this post on this website, with all the layout and graphics intact, there is another way to view this site. Click this link to open a new window or tab to view this site’s feed. Well, at least a readable version of this site’s feed.
You can see the most recent articles in chronological order, without all the graphics, bells, and whistles. You just see the text.
There are programs called “feed readers” which take feed links, like the one above, and add them to a directory or feed list, also known as feed bookmarks. These programs hold your list of feeds and with a click or two, you can quickly move down the list, viewing the updated posts from the feeds on your favorite websites.
How does this benefit web users?
If you are used to using your browser favorites, or typing in the URL/address for your favorite websites that you return to catch up on the latest news or new posts, you understand how long it takes to type in the address and wait for the page to load. Not all sites clearly promote their newest articles, either. So you might have to hunt for the latest news or changes.
With a feed reader, click on the address and within seconds the text from the most recent articles, news, and posts appears on your screen. If they are greyed out, you have probably read them, so you can move down the list to the newest content. Within a few minutes, you have read through 10 or more favorite websites, catching up on the news, where it might have taken you 15-30 minutes or more before.
Not every website comes with feeds, though most should by now. All WordPress blogs feature feeds automatically. Feeds are found by using the feed reader’s “search for feeds” feature or by looking for links or logos which represent a feed. While the graphic to represent feeds is still evolving, look for an orange button with RSS or FEED in the title. Click and drag the graphic and/or the link to your feed reader to add feeds manually.
You can also put feeds on your website that come from external sites. This is a neat way of including more and/or related information from external sources, or to include information from another website or blog you own. Adding RSS Feeds to WordPress and Playing with WordPress.com New Sidebar Widgets including Feeds discuss how to add feeds to your WordPress and WordPress.com blogs.
I should caution you, however, to include titles or excerpts not full posts in any feeds you host on your website or blog unless you have the consent of the author. There are more and more cases of content theft through feeds and action is working its way up the pipeline to put a stop to illegal usage of content on websites that can’t come up with their own original content, so they stuff their blogs with stolen material. Sad use of something so exciting and powerful.
Get to know and understand how feeds work and how they can benefit you. The next Windows and Mac versions will include a variety of ways to use and include feeds in your day-to-day operations, so get familiar with them now so you can jump on the feed bandwagon.
- Benefits and Uses of Website Feeds
- Customizing Your Feed Titles
- Dig Up Feeds with a Keyword-Based RSS Feed Generator
- Adding RSS Feeds to WordPress
- FeedBurner Announces New Interactive RSS Service
- Ads on Feeds
- The Birth of RSS
- My Daily Tasks With WordPress
- Blogging Tips – Hundreds of Resources for Finding Content for Your Blog
- Like Owner Looks Like Dog, Do You Look Like Your Aggregator?
- Feed Your Ego – Literally
- Custom Google Search Feeds
- Beauty is Only Skin Deep: Designing Blogs For Feeds, Search Engines and Audience
- Playing with WordPress.com New Sidebar Widgets