Understanding RSS

If you’re a marketer (business owner) then on your website, you probably have an RSS feed that visitors can subscribe to your specials. If you don’t have one, then create one. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” for short.

RSS is a way of passing links to content in your web site that you’d like others to use. In other words, it’s a mechanism to “syndicate” your content, and its laser focus content.

We are going to explain the meat of RSS that you should know if you decide to create one or to subscribe to a 3rd party service with the understanding of the meat of it.

At the heart of an RSS file are “items.” No matter what version of RSS you have, your file will have to include at least one item. Items are generally web pages that you want others to link to. For example, let’s say you just created a web page reviewing the types of food seasoning. Information about that page would form an item.

To enter your item into the RSS file, you’ll need three bits of information:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Link

In the case of our example page, let’s say this is the information we settle on to define it as an item:

Now we have to surround that information with XML tags. These are similar to HTML tags, with the exception that unlike with HTML, there’s no set definition of XML tags. Anyone can make up a particular XML tag. Whether it is useful depends on the program that reads the resulting XML file. In the case of RSS feeds, they have their own unique set of XML tags that are defined. Use these correctly, and then anything that reads RSS will understand your information.

Now there’s one more thing we need to do. We actually have to define all this information as forming a particular “item,” which we special  special item tag. Heres what it looks like:

<item>

<title>Free Shipping on Poultry Seasoning</title>
<description>Buy 4 or more of Dean & Danny Poultry Seasoning and receive Free Shipping</description>
<link>http://deananddannys.com/xcart/product.php?productid=3</link&gt;

</item>

Having defined items we want to pass on, we now have to define our site as a “channel.” You’ll use the same tags as with the items: title, description and link. However, this time the information will be about your entire site, rather than a particular page. That means our channel information would look like this:

<title>Dean & Danny Signature Food Seasonings</title>

<description>Dean & Danny Food Seasonings introduces a line of quality seasonings</description>

<link>http://deananddannys.com</link&gt;

There are some other things that needs to be added. We need to add a tag at the very top of the file saying that this is written according to the XML 1.0 specifications. Right under this, we also have to say what RSS version we are using. Here is what it would look like to show the website and the specific page to be distributed.  Heres the final look:

<?xml version=”1.0″?>
<rss version=”2.0″>
<channel>

<title>Dean & Danny Signature Food Seasonings</title>

<description>Dean & Danny Food Seasonings introduces a line of quality seasonings</description>

<link>http://deananddannys.com</link&gt;

<item>
<title>Free Shipping on Poultry Seasoning</title>
<description>Buy 4 or more of Dean & Danny Poultry Seasoning and receive Free Shipping</description>

<link>http://deananddannys.com/xcart/product.php?productid=3</link&gt;
</item>
<item>
<title>Buy Steak Seasoning</title>
<description>Buy 4 or more Dean & Danny Steak Seasoning and receive Free Shipping</description>
<link>http://deananddannys.com/xcart/product.php?productid=1</link&gt;

</channel>
</rss>



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