A to Z about RSS by Herman Melville - HTML preview

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Description Page
Introduction 6
Chapter 1 8

Let us roll the RSS ball 8
Limitations of current E-mailing technology: 12
Features of RSS: 13
How to go about it? 14
Understanding RSS Document 14
Chapter 2 18

Why do the existing technologies suck? 18
Loopholes of the existing marketing technology: 18
The search Engines 20
Will E-mails last long? 20
Checking on SPAM: 21
RSS as a marketing tool 22
Chapter 3 23

A Peep into the RSS Terminology 21
Chapter 4 23

Why RSS remains hot now? 26
Unleashing the power of RSS in marketing and publishing 26 Prompt delivery of your Internet content to end-users 27
Improving the old and discovering the new 29
Update your content as often as you want 29
Chapter 5 30

The technologies that crowns RSS 30
Pod casting and video casting: 30
Pod casting 31
How to Record Your Content 33
Launching Your Audio Files – Hosting 33
RSS for personalized/customized database listings: 36
Chapter 6 37

Marrying the new without divorcing the old 37
Honing your existing content delivery efforts 37
RSS in Direct Marketing 37
Improve your Search Engine Rankings 40
Make your contents reach other Web Media 41
Branded RSS Aggregators 42
Branded RSS Readers in Real-life 43
Developing your own RSS reader 43
Enhance Your web presence 46
Advertising through RSS 47 The power of the emerging tool - RSS 46
Grab the power of RSS – free or at rock-bottom prices 50
Chapter 7 51

BLOGGING: Who knows, it can be your goldmine 51
Six most unique ways to get connected with readers for dollars 53
Businessman without a story? 54
Are you not interested in politics and current affairs? 56
The ethics you need to know before landing on the blog world 57
a) Stick to the topic: 57
a) Post on current, hot topics: 57
b) Be informative: 58
c) Clarity and simplicity: 58
d) Adhere to a schedule: 58
e) Not only quality, but also quantity matters: 59
f) Frequency: 59
g) Catchy keywords: 59
h) Spell-checking and proof reading: 60
i) RSS 60
j) Choose hot titles 61
Why people go for blogs? 62
Positive Reflections of blogging: 62 Developing ideas: 63
Developing relations with others: 64
Representing oneself and tracing a path: 64

Spotting experts and cross-disciplinary connections: 65
Bonding, building and maintaining connections with others: 65
Blogging for ‘dollars’ using RSS: 66

A. Affiliate Programs (Product Endorsements) 66
B. Product Promotion 67
C. Banner Ads: 67
D. Advertisements in blog contents: 67
Chapter 8 69

Let us sail the RSS Boat 69
How to go about with RSS? 69
Which Version of RSS is more Popular? 71
Basic Elements of RSS: 71
Commonly Used Attributes: 72
Creating your own RSS feed: 74
So what do I need to know to create a RSS feed? 74
Step 1: Decide the content that you want to publish 75
Step 2: Creating the XML document 76

Step 3: Publishing your RSS feed 80 RSS Creating Software: 81 How Do I Read RSS Feeds? 107 Conclusion 114


“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”

- Herman Melville Herman Melville lived in 19th century and the word internet, and RSS would not have come into his mind even in his wildest dreams. Still, a lot of writers have come and gone after him – I haven’t found a better statement to present our context before you. Money has stirred an honest nest around us and although money can’t be said to be everything in our life, it’s a fact that none of us can’t live without dollars. We all crave for dollars and run after that using different means. It’s these “means” that we select to run our business that matters. Putting it in simple words, modern day business is all about connecting people. Needless to say, those who connect to people in a better way, often succeeds. Paradoxically, those who are armed with the latest technologies are capable of connecting to people more successfully. Before the advent of RSS and blogs, these technologies used to burn out a hole in your pocket. All those days are gone. Now, if you have a website you only need some knowledge to make things happen for you. It’s this vital knowledge that I am going to pass on you through this book.

Again playing with Herman’s words, our lives are now indeed connected by a thousand invisible threads. The only difference is that, unlike the times of Herman, we connect these threads by the medium of internet. And as you know, internet has become too crowded a place that reaching people through the net has become a tough task. To make things further complicated, gone are the days when your customers would have fallen to your marketing ad-words and click your “buy now” button without any hesitation. This is where RSS and blogs come to picture.

Chapter 1
Let us roll the RSS ball

Well, are you a net savvy who may fit into one of the following categories?

• You are usually in hurry and looking for something specific without wanting to waste your valuable time.
• You think staring at computer screens hours together can be tiring for the eyes. So prefer scanning text instead of reading word for word.
• You frequently end up on some webpage (not through the homepage) and do not know how it fits into the rest of the website!
• You are a person expecting the information on the web to be up-to-date.
• You like to have privacy on the information you are interested in and control over the numerous unwanted information popping and earning your irritation.
• You welcome with great interest the latest methodologies, if that cannot only save your precious time but also prove to be a powerful, versatile method to keep you well updated faster than the conventional methods.

Are you an organization/marketer/publisher who has opted for Internet marketing strategies, having created your website and has been on the constant run to win more visitors to your site? Glance through the following points of which at least some have caught your attention at one time or the other in your path of business:

• Presence of millions of web pages gives you the challenging job of hooking the visitors who may very easily move on to somebody else’s website.
• Having spent thousands of dollars creating your website, you feel it does nothing to promote your organization. Should it not help you grow your business at least to some extent, when so much pain is involved?
• You are on a long hunt for a suitable method of conversational marketing on Internet, which can replace the so-far passive Internet marketing.
• Visitors do not trust web contents unless its credibility is clear.
• You wish to give a distinguishable look to your company with the help of a blend of audio and video elements in your website.

Whichever category you may fall into – the former or the latter – here comes an incredible solution, to your long-pondering questions! A drastic change from traditional solutions to a highly effective methodology – RSS is the buzzword, creating waves in today’s Internet world. RSS, an acronym for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, is a very cost effective method to bring your information to your clients and ‘to-be-clients’. It is a viable alternative to produce effective solutions to your numerous business needs.

RSS opens a new gateway to ever-flooding effective business strategies, never existed before, and creates a new dimension in the way you reach out to the public. When you, as a marketer/ businessman/company, decide to promote your business through the marketing strategies of Internet, try to take the maximum advantage of this interactive medium. When your website does not engage visitors, then your web-based promotional efforts have been crippled. What are the means to attract visitors to your website, when there exists a million dollar question – whose website to visit? Given innumerable choices, just think of the visitor’s plight to decide which one and whether he wishes to really come back after his first visit.

RSS has a lot of advantages over the other existing methods, to turn it into the most sought-after, powerful, influential tool, which will take over the Internet world very soon, if understood fully and properly. It is basically a ‘push-based’ communication method, which can be published and subscribed to easily. It can be explained as a file containing the latest information and accessed by subscribers who are interested.

Consider a website as a real-world conversation. We need to adopt the same things just like while trying to sell our product to a sales prospect in person. RSS has wonderful features, which embody the techniques of conversational marketing in a very flexible way. Don’t you go through the following while reaching out to the visitors? Glance through and see how RSS helps:

• First, you decide your goal and try to analyze what kind of audience your website can get.
• What do the visitors get on visiting your website? Interview customers for their feedback, do a research and make changes to your website accordingly. The last part can be done very easily done using RSS feeds (which we will see in detail in the later chapters).
• The look of your website is very important. RSS has made it very easy to understand, see and feel your message for the visitors by mixing video and audio channels to your contents. Also, keep in mind that not only is it enough to have a good website but an appropriate one to your business also, to catch your visitor’s eye.
• Make your website work well in all the browsers. Your website is open to a variety of visitors who can prefer browsers of their choices. RSS is a convenient way since it works on all platforms. Most of the browsers may not face hurdles accessing RSS.
• Your website is the gold mine of information on how the public respond to what you say. RSS provides an unbelievable platform to discuss the views of the public without wasting time. Instead, you can spend your time on crafting quality contents. RSS has got many special features such as dialog facilitators, RSS radars, and automatic responders to enhance the significance of conversational marketing.
• You can collect a lot of information such as the number of subscribers, their interests, their reading frequency, the topics they are more interested in etc using RSS feeds. These are definitely going to be vital for improving your standards of business.
• Your search engine ranking reflects how good your website is! RSS increases the search engine ranking remarkably and well, again helps develop your business.

Not only these! You can go on listing down the various advantages of RSS which we will explore one by one after knowing about RSS in detail.

And do not think it’s a super-techie thing that you cannot use! Once you are familiar with the tool, you are open to the amazing world of RSS and one day, sure to find yourself hooked to it! Its going to be the beginning of an unbelievable era, exploring deeper and deeper the many faces of RSS and of course, the web world, through it! Though it can’t be an all-out replacement for other technologies, it can be a standard to optimize your Internet experience.

So, what are you waiting for? Get going to know more about RSS in the following chapters and unleash the power of this incredible, powerful tool!

Limitations of current E-mailing technology:

Before knowing about the latest trendsetter RSS, let us discuss in length about the current demerits faced by the organizations planning to offer e-mails or enewsletters to their subscribers. The organizations are meeting a great challenge to catch the attention of their subscribers.

The users have second thoughts signing up, due to the junk mails flooding their mailboxes. Even if they do sign in, the question of whether these mails draw their attention pops up! With the technology world pacing through unimaginable changes each and every minute, one needs to know how precious time is. Users definitely may not want to even bother to open such mails, lest to read it.

With spam gaining momentum by the day, the question of mere survival of the organizations’ mass deletion system hovers as a big challenge.

Now, people or precisely, organizations, resort to better, flexible methods of communications. Obviously, with the enormous growth in technology, especially in the internet, there is a need to switch over to more interesting ways of communicating to the subscribers. Especially companies with smaller advertising budget need to be innovative in their ways of communication through web.

This is where ‘push-based’ communications methods such as RSS come in.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. It can be simply explained as a file containing the latest headlines, which can be published and subscribed to easily. Major players such as Macromedia, Macromedia, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and IDC have begun going in for RSS, not for just effective communication, but also for augmenting visibility of their websites, thus increasing traffic to their sites. End of the day, these organizations update their customers without worrying about ‘mass deletion’!
Before going in depth about Really Simple Syndication, knowing what RSS is will give us a vivid picture of this new technology.

Features of RSS:

We can define RSS more technically as a lightweight, topical, metadata and syndication format. Let us look into each feature to get a vivid picture:

This is a very important feature looked upon by many users as one of the reasons to prefer RSS tool. RSS is very small, in the sense – it requires less space, usually less than a hundred kilobytes of space. RSS files are XML documents, which can be written using any text editor (Word, notepad, emacs, vi etc) very easily.

RSS highlights what you think is important on your page and that would be the contents seen by the other readers. For example, if you are a news organization, you may want to focus on the latest headlines, if you are a businessman you may want to showcase about your products or if you are a publisher you may want to throw light on your latest book releases.

Metadata is the information about your data. You can embed details about your data in your RSS file. For example, who wrote the article you are highlighting or how often your RSS file will be read to see if you have added any information.


As we have already seen that it is to present a snapshot, in a specified formatted file, of what you consider most important about your site at the moment.

How to go about it?

As a provider, the first step is to collect the latest news, announcements or any information you wish to give subscribers. Then you create ‘RSS document’, a summary of the collected information.

The next step is to register the document with an RSS publisher. Once it is registered, anyone using an RSS reader can get it from the publisher or directly from your site.

Understanding RSS Document

An RSS document is made up of ‘items’, comprising a title, a link to the content and a description of that item. For instance, for a news article, the title will be like a headline, the link will take readers to the news article and the description will summarize the news they’ll find on clicking the link to visit your site. The items are grouped into a ‘channel’ or ‘feed’. This is the name you assign to your ongoing series of RSS documents.

RSS documents are created in XML, or Extensible Markup Language, which is fast becoming the markup language for the Web. HTML tags instruct the browser how to display content (fonts, images or otherwise); XML tags define the nature of the information. Do not panic! Proficiency in XML is not a prerequisite to create RSS documents. The non-technical can seek the help of various tools of conversion available.
The XML file can be updated manually or by using modules to increase the speed of the process. The feed is prepared by transforming the RSS file into HTML. A scripting command named server-side include is used to place the content on the Web page as a template. Once the module has been developed, it’s really just a matter of sitting back and letting the content stream in.

The files can be accessed from your own Web site or by registering your feed with content aggregators, or sites that list various feeds. Individual RSS readers can subscribe directly to your feeds through these options. Other Web sites can also do the same, bringing more hits to your content!

You, as a content manager, can subscribe to other sites’ or aggregators’ feeds as well. This will provide your site visitors with news and material that you may not have the time to develop.

Essentially, bloggers and news sites, such as The Wall Street Journal Online and The New York Times Digital, have been the early adopters of this technology, mutually benefiting in terms of updates and increased visibility. The feeds keep the blog visitors informed and updated without having them to visit it daily. We can very well put it that if not for the existence of the feeds, the response for “blogs” would not be this increasing. And the hope of getting the like-minded people to post the site content is very high.

Nowadays, it has become inevitable for buyers of software products, as it helps them stay up-to-date on product news, development, support etc. Not just this, users save time too! The journalists are switching over to RSS for press releases and pitch letters.

The use of RSS is becoming very essential for companies, which have lots of information to share, small budget and internet-savvy audiences. It serves as a boon not only to the organizations wanting to widen their visibility, but also to users who always like to stay up-dated about the contents they eagerly wait to taste upon.

The number of RSS feeds offered by an organization often depends on the requirements of their subscribers, nature of the news from it, the ongoing research at the organization, the speed with which the contents are updated, the number of subscribers etc.
The RSS also helps the customers in managing the information flow not just from the organizations, but from a variety of data sources also.

Many of the RSS providers are in turn RSS subscribers also of several technology-oriented feeds to keep them in par with the latest information about other sites also. Though many people have the interest to update themselves they may not have the time to do it. Visiting each and every website, they enjoy seeing for any new addition to the contents, is a very time consuming process. The RSS aggregators help you to quickly view where a new content is appearing and whether it is of interest to you. For companies who do not update their news daily or for those who do not do it even once a week, but who are keen in informing their subscribers when they do it, this can be the best method which costs nothing at all. RSS is really standards orientated and the payback is really high for the companies.

When the companies provide different RSS feeds, it also helps them find out the area of interest of their subscribers. For example, let us consider a company having different RSS feeds such as on press releases, blogs, new research announcements, company news, columns etc. Depending on the traffic on the RSS feed, the company can gauge the interest of the visitors. It may therefore try to focus more on providing to the thirst of the users.

It is also important to mention here that big companies, corporate are very much benefited by the use of RSS. There are occasions when even the employees within big companies may not know the latest news or the new ongoing research of the company due to lack of communication among the various departments. Here RSS lends a helping hand! Make use of RSS feeds; stay updated all the time. After all, we know how crucial it is to be informed about what is happening in your company!!

The content managers can go for effective redesign of their websites developing new content sharing tools to promote information and build awareness among the members.

In spite of many added points in favor of RSS, we can also totally not deny the fact that it can be a value-added addition to the current day communication methods, however, cannot replace e-mails completely.

Chapter 2 Why do the existing technologies suck?

We are aware of different current key elements of marketing over the net like Advertisements through Internet, E-mail marketing and publishing, search engine marketing and optimization, e-commerce, business blogging, branding and many others. But these can be considered as separate entities being driven by different corporate roles and having its own proprietary set of Internet tools.

Of course, there are some tools that are multi-purpose. But, there has never been a powerful tool like RSS that is trust-worthy, Spam-free flexible and most of all enhances the power of the different key elements of Internet marketing.

It is sure to produce incredible business and marketing results in the future.

Loopholes of the existing marketing technology:

It is needless to say that SPAMS, enabled by the "democratic" nature of e-mail, has ended up driving the mere purpose of this once-upon-a-time best method to peril.

• The companies have to fight their way to acquire the recipient’s email id, seek permission lest to be assured of their content being delivered. Many internet users prefer a big ‘NO’ in signing up to avoid wasting time deleting the unwanted mails from their inboxes. Why not nip the trouble in the bud itself?
• Talking about the companies, who have at last succeeded in their objective, they have still a long way to go for their content to reach the target mailboxes. They are faced with various Spam barricades from the recipient’s Internet Service Provider.
• After getting through the ISP barricades the message needs to "combat" the various filters in place on the user-side, such as thirdparty spam filters, usually partnered with an e-mail client Spam filter. All this to make sure that nothing that even looks like Spam gets through.

Then, again the user quickly scans the messages, eliminating the most obvious Spam, and on top of that often also performs an in-depth scan to finally decide what messages he can delete, what to be moved to the dreaded "to read" folder (which never gets read) or what to be actually read.

Any proof whether the messages will be read after having got through so many barriers is truly uncertain.

• This obviously means more than 50% of lost sales and relationship opportunities. How much does that amount to in losses in a few years?
• Important messages and updates for your existing customers are getting lost as well. This in turn will affect your follow-up sales and after purchase relationship building activities.
• Some rules which are currently implemented by the US CAN-SPAM legislation are putting legitimate e-mail publishers at risk. Instead of putting check on the real spammers, they threaten legitimate senders.

Can you believe? Many people end up calling their subscribers to check on their receipt of their message. Is it not obvious that the very purpose of e-mails is smashed down here?

The Search Engines: