Newer Internet Marketers continue to be confounded, bewildered and frustrated by RSS.
Sure, everyone may know that it stands for “Really Simple Syndication”, or “Rich Site Summary”. Or if you go back to it’s earlier definition RDF Site Summary.
But what does it all mean?
And is it a new technology.
Again, like blogging, RSS traces it’s roots for a number of years. To 1999 in fact.
RSS is a way of accessing content from blogs and podcasts via a easy to use interface.
While RSS was used to broadcast content from personal blogs previously, increasingly businesses and online marketers are using RSS feeds as a means of generating brand awareness and to promote products and services too.
The bugbear with RSS however, lies in the fact that it requires some techy know how to set up successfully.
Microsoft has announced that the new Windows Vista incorporates RSS support.
Given that I will be holding back on a Vista upgrade for some time (and I suspect others will also), here’re some intermediate solutions.
My preference is to install the Mozilla Thunderbird email client, which incorporates RSS support.
Another program I like is the Blog Explosion RSS Reader.
If you’ve just started out with your blogging efforts, joining Blog Explosion’s free traffic program can give you a head start in generating traffic. It will also give you explosure to other great blogs out there.
What I especially like about Blog Explosion is that besides the traffic that it generates, listing your blog in the Blog Explosion directory creates a Google PageRank backlink to your blog. My particular backlink is rated a PR3.
If you’re prefer an online RSS reader accessible via your web browser:
The direct benefit of setting up these two services and subscribing to your own feed means that your blog will be spidered by Google and Yahoo regularly and be indexed on these search engines much more easily.
With all that laid out, here’s my biggest peeve about RSS.
Actually it’s more to do with RSS publishers.
Bigger is not always better.
A lot are under the illusion that the bigger, the better.
As Yoda said to Luke Skywalker in the Empire Strikes Back “Size matters not”
I don’t specifically see myself as a designer.
In fact, I’m pretty horrible when it comes to design sometimes.
But take a look at some of the RSS icons I’ve seen on some blogs:
Let’s start with the ones that aren’t effective:
Found in the right sidebar of a blog. The orange, when blown up, looks ghastly. The 3-D effect doesn’t help either.
Still hurts my eyes. Found in the left sidebar of a blog.
Really, it’s too over-the-top.
Do you find it crass?
Perhaps you might agree with:
Taken from the 10 Ways to a Killer Blog series I worked on earlier, originally by Robert Scoble.
Here’re some better implementations of RSS publicity:
Shoemoney‘s a big blogger. You’ll need to hunt to pick up his RSS feed. It’s located in the bottom left corner of his blog.
Pepperjam has a slew of RSS options in their right sidebar. For aesthetic reasons, I’d probably recommend keep it to 3 options, or a maximum of 5. Too many options creates clutter on your blog real estate.
I like Todd Malicoat‘s presentation of his RSS feed. It appears in his right sidebar, above the fold. The orange contrast against the black background is pretty pleasant. As is the handwritten font for “Subscribe”
ProBlogger Darren Rowse has the above information appearing in his left sidebar. The RSS feed is accessible via the XML or feedburner button. Nice, clean, compact design.
BlueHatSEO Eli has a nice presentation of his RSS feed too, appearing just below the header graphic in the right sidebar.
If you’re planning to publish a blog and offer your RSS feeds for subscription, the orange icon with the three slanted lines (which originated in the Mozilla Firefox browser) would be most easily recognizable, than the “XML” or “RSS” icons.
As adoption of Windows Vista ramps up, you can be sure that RSS will become a more important technology for content publishers.