RSS Feeds. What are they and why do I need them?


RSS stands for several things, the simplest to remember being Really Simple Syndication. What it means is that people can sign up to get your blog sent either to their downloaded newsreader that they have installed on their computer, or they can be sent an email every time you blog.

This means that your fan, Sally Smith, will not have to go daily to the 15 blog sites that she likes to check to see if there are new blogs. It means that the information comes to her. Meaning she is far more likely to read it.

Also, if you have a blog or a web site and somewhere in there, you want to link to someone else’s blog because you think your customers will appreciate it, there is a pretty simple way to do that, too.

Let’s start with the easy one. Let’s say you want to link to a blog about iPhones. First of all, in WordPress, go to Appearance/Widgets. Decide where you want to put your RSS link to that site. Select the RSS widget and drag it into the sidebar you have chosen. Open it up. The first thing it wants is the address of the IPhones Blog feed. Go to (I am using this as an example, not as a referral) and look on the page to where you see the round-cornered orange “chicklet” with the sound waves on it.

Right click on it, and “copy image location.” That is the address that WordPress wants. Go back to WordPress. Ctrl/V or edit/paste into the RSS Widget address field. Next, give it a name. iPhone News or what ever you want. Select how many items you would like it to display, and that number of titles will appear in the widget when you view your page. You can also add the date if you like. That is it. Save and Close

The more complicated one is made pretty easy by our friend John Hoff. The next question you might ask is why do I want to use the Feedburner RSS and not the default WordPress RSS? It seems like a lot of trouble. What about the Feedsmith Plug-in? The reason is that at some point, your theme version will get old. Your plug-ins will get old and you never know if there will eventually be a security hole where a hacker can take control of your blog. Plug-ins also slow down your load time.
Here is a post How to set up a Feedburner Feed in which it explains the whole process in simple detail.

He even gives you the code (in number two on the page, which varies a little from what he tells you to use in the third video) to redirect the WordPress feed from its default to Feedburner. It is a step by step process he takes you through. Take simple notes, go back to the videos if you have to.

And then just do it. I often find these technical processes very complex and frustrating but it is worth it to make your blog more accessible.

With an hour of focus, I was able to add Subscribe buttons and links to my website and later to the websites of a number of my clients. And they work!!