Digging Deep To Get The Most From RSS Technology for Marketing
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Copyright 2006 Rok Hrastnik

An integral part of getting the most from RSS is really
understanding how RSS works as a technology --- basically
understanding its structure and how to best use it to get
more readership and better search engine rankings.

The good part is that it's easy and quick to do, without
needing any technical expertise and just using standard RSS
publishing tools.

A) HOW RSS FEEDS ARE STRUCTURED

RSS feeds contain the basic information about the RSS feed
itself and the individual RSS feed content items that
actually carry the content you want to deliver to your
target audiences or syndicate to other websites.

All of this information is carried within different
perscribed RSS feed elements that are used for different
purposes.

But how you use these elements may actually define whether
you are getting the most from RSS or not.

Now you don't actually need to know how to create an RSS
feed, since your RSS publishing software will do that for
you, but you need to know what to put in these elements to
make the most from them.

B) RSS FEED ELEMENTS

RSS feed elements describe the RSS feed.

Each element encloses the actual descriptionary
information, just like an HTML tag.

The most important elements you need to pay attention to
for increasing marketing results are:

1. RSS FEED TITLE

The name of the RSS feed, which will be displayed in the
RSS Reader when someone accesses your feed, as well as the
search engines and so on.

You need to craft your title so that it stands out among
other feeds in your subscribers' RSS Readers and attracts
them, and is at the same time rich with your most important
keywords to assure you achieve better search engine
placement for your feeds.

2. RSS FEED DESCRIPTION

A short sentence that describes the RSS feed. Just as with
the title element, the description needs to attract your
target audiences (in many RSS Readers the description is
displayed just below the feed title) and at the same time
assure better placement within the search engines.

So keep it user-attractive, conveying the main content
points covered in your feed and the key benefits for your
readers, as well as search-engine-friendly, with your most
important keywords.

3. RSS FEED IMAGE

The image element is used to display your logo on the RSS
feed presentation in RSS Readers. The default width for the
logo is 88 px and the maximum width is 144 px. Default
image height is 31 px and the maximum height is 400 px.

Including your logo in your feed will make your feed more
memorable for your subscribers, thus helping you increase
actual readership, as well as provide additional branding
for your business.

C) RSS CONTENT ITEM ELEMENTS

While the RSS feed elements define and describe an RSS feed
on the level of the entire feed, individual content item
elements describe and carry the actual information you want
to deliver to your audiences.

And if there's any question about it, RSS content items are
contained within an RSS feed.

Each content item may then contain some or all of the
elements that describe that content item and provide
information.

1. RSS CONTENT ITEM TITLE

The title of the specific content item that is of course
displayed in the RSS Reader and everywhere else where your
content appears.

Your content item titles are one of the most important
things in your RSS feed, determening whether your readers
will actually read the rest of the content or whether the
search engines will rank it high enough for you.

Just think of the title as an e-mail message subject line
and webpage title in one. The e-mail subject line is what
makes your recipient decide whether he's going to read the
entire message or not. You need to keep it to the point and
give just enough information to make it inviting to read on.

The webpage title has much weight with the search engines,
helping you get higher rankings for your content for the
keywords you're trying to optimize your webpage for.

The RSS content item title performs both of these functions
for you at the same time.

2. RSS CONTENT ITEM LINK

The URL pointing to a webpage on your website where the
user can read the entire content of the content item, if
you're publishing your RSS feeds in summary format. A "read
more" type of destination.

If you're publishing your feeds in full-text format the
link can serve for archiving purposes, for example if your
customers would either want to clickthrough to your site
and then bookmark your content in their internet browser.

Of course, if you don't want to provide a backlink to your
site, you don't have to, as the link element is optional.
This could come useful if you're using your RSS feed meerly
as a direct communicational channel to send a quick message
to your customers or anyone else, without also providing
that content on your website.

But since most RSS users actually expect to be able to
clickthrough it's highly recommended that you always
provide the link.

3. RSS CONTENT ITEM DESCRIPTION

This is where the actual body content of the information
you're trying to deliver comes in ? the actual story you're
trying to tell.

The description element can either be a short summary, or
can contain full-text content of the story, with images and
almost everything else (there are some restrictions).

Depending on who you ask, some will say that summary feeds
are better, while others will vouch their head for
full-text feeds. What you decide for actually depends
completely on your business model and what you are trying
to achieve with RSS. In short, there are no rules.

Also, you might not even need a description.

--> If you just want to deliver headlines of your latest
content and have people clickthrough to your site to find
out more you could easily do that. This would usually be
useful for syndicating your content to other websites, if
you didn't want them to publish anything else but your
headline.

--> Or the content you are delivering might not even need a
description. For example you could create an RSS feed with
the latest stock-market updates where the update would be
quickly delivered just using the title element. More on
this in later chapters. What you do need to know right now
is what kind of content can actually be included if you
decide for full-text content.

For starters, if you do it right, standard text formating,
such as bolding, works just fine in most RSS Readers,
although some may even ignore that. Links within the
content and images are also not a problem, although again,
some RSS Readers might just ignore them.

But still, most of the new ones won't, so adding some
flavor to your full-text content should not be a problem.

If you want to go even further, even tables in content
should work in most cases, actually enabling you to post a
full e-zine issue right inside of a single RSS feed content
item.

The worst problem is that different RSS Readers will
display this content in different ways, some even not
displaying tables at all.

And finally, if you want to syndicate your content to other
websites, they might just want a summary instead of
full-text content, so you might need to prepare a summary
version of the feed as well.
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Rok Hrastnik is acknowledged as one of the top worldwide
experts on RSS marketing. Get the easy way to mastering RSS
marketing today. Click here now to get all the details on
how to make RSS marketing work for you and help you
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