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How to Use RSS to Promote Your Web Site

Jun 3, 2008
RSS, which is generally defined as standing for "Real Simple Syndication," is a file format that allows for the streaming of text Web content. It has two primary marketing uses, and you should probably make use of both to some degree in your web site marketing campaigns. The two uses are to stream content from other Web publishers onto your web site, and to stream your Web content onto other publishers' web sites.

The benefit of streaming others' content onto your web site is that it will keep your web site updated with new content. Search engines love new content, as do people. The way this process works is quite simple, although some programming may be necessary to implement the technique on your web site.

First, the publisher of the content posts an RSS file to his server. The RSS file is really just an XML text file that describes the content and supplies links to the pages on the site where the content is located. So the content that gets streamed to other web sites is not the complete articles, but rather titles, summaries, and links to the full article content.

The owner of the web site that is going to make use of the publisher's content has to know the URL of the RSS file. Once he knows that, he can write some code using his choice of scripting language that will open the RSS file, read its content, and display it on the web page.

The benefit of having your content streamed to other web sites is that it results in links back to content on your site. If you have streamed content that other web sites find valuable, then it is like casting hooks into a pond. The more hooks you have out there (the more web sites there are that use your streamed content), the more likely you are to get traffic to your web site, either in the form of direct click-throughs or improved search engine rankings.

The easiest way to create streamed content is to publish a blog with a blogging platform that creates automatic RSS feeds of your blog posts. An example is Blogger, which automatically creates a URL to an Atom file, which is just a different name for an RSS file.

You can also manually create your own RSS files and stream whatever content you want. For instance, you might choose to have an articles section on your web site with original articles, and then create an RSS file that contains information about those articles. Every time you publish a new article, you update your RSS file.

However you go about creating your content and RSS file, it is helpful to publish your RSS URL to RSS directories. If you publish your content in blog format, I suggest you use a web site called Pingomatic. It will automatically ping a number of popular blog and RSS directories about your updated blog. It is also free. There are more advanced paid options available as well.

This has been a very quick introduction to the two main ways to use RSS for your Web marketing. There is much more to know, but hopefully you see that this is a technology you need to explore for yourself.
About the Author
Jerry Work is president of Work Media, LLC, http://workmedia.net, a search engine optimization and pay per click firm based in Nashville.
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