Introduction to RSS feeds
RSS feeds have revolutionized the way we interact with online content. RSS which stands for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication has made it easy to browse a vast web. Instead of repeatedly checking different sites for updates or new content, RSS feeds offer you automatic updates.
How RSS feeds work
RSS feeds are simply text files which feed directories allowing subscribers to see content immediately it is published or updated. Content can be viewed even more easily using an RSS feed reader or RSS aggregator which is a simpler way of viewing all your RSS feeds at once using one interface.
Although some websites don’t publish an RSS feed, most do. To set up a personal feed, follow the steps below;
Step 1: Download an RSS reader or RSS aggregator: There are many free and commercial RSS readers, apps and extensions available online. Download any of these on your mobile device or computer.
Step 2: Visit your favorite sites and search for an RSS link. In case you don’t find one, search the name of your favorite website on Google and include the word RSS. Doing this should bring you an RSS link if one exists.
Step 3: Copy and paste the RSS link of your favorite website on your RSS reader. Repeat for all your favorite websites.
Important: Some RSS aggregators are designed to offer suggestions of related sites that have feeds available. To use your RSS reader, login to the webpage of the respective reader or run the reader software or app. This should allow you to scan the feeds of websites you love visiting instantly. You can make customizations such as arranging feeds into different folders, just like emails. You can also set alerts to get instant updates when specific web feeds are updated.
Custom RSS feeds have sites of your choice delivering the latest directly on your screen. Instead of visiting multiple sites to view the latest in sports, weather, gossip, politics, etc., your just need to visit your RSS aggregator and see the latest in all those sites displayed on one window.
Types of RSS readers
- Web-based RSS feed readers: These types of readers allow website visitors to read feeds via a website browser. Web-based readers are the most convenient to use. They are also easy to setup. Feedly is a good example of a web-based reader.
- Built-in browser feed readers: The main browsers in use today have built-in RSS readers with countless plug-ins and extensions offering unmatched functionality.
- Desktop readers: These types of RSS aggregators are recommendable to individuals who prefer installing something, i.e. an app or software that offers desktop updates.
- Email-based RSS feed readers: If you prefer updates delivered via mail, you should consider using an email-based feed reader. Google Alerts and Mozilla Thunderbird is a great example of an email-based reader. The reader has countless custom options offering both website owners and visitors unmatched functionality.
- Mobile feed RSS readers: Most people today browse the internet via mobile devices that include Smartphones, tablets, and laptops. If your website is visited by mobile device users, you should consider incorporating RSS readers that are mobile-friendly. The same applies for website visitors who use their mobile devices to access the internet. A mobile feed reader is better for such internet users. Feedly and Flipboard are great examples of mobile readers.
Benefits of RSS readers
RSS feeds are beneficial to both website owners and visitors. Displaying an RSS feed on a website is beneficial to a website owner because it allows website visitors to get updates on new content in a faster and more convenient manner. Since the internet is vast and competition is stiff, having a better way to deliver new content offers website owners unmatched competitive advantage. From a website visitor’s perspective, RSS improves the user experience. Website visitors don’t need to waste time visiting every single website to check if there are updates or not.
Popular RSS aggregators
It’s advisable to try several readers before selecting a preferred reader. As mentioned earlier, there are many readers out there. Some are free while others have both free and paid versions. Examples of popular RSS readers are listed below in regards to the operating system or browser in use.
- Feedly: Recommendable for Android, iOS or webPanda: Chrome extension recommendable for web and iOS.
- Feeder: recommendable for Chrome, Android and iOS.
- Reeder 3: recommendable for iOS and Mac.