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Attract External Links to Your Web Site Using RSS Feeds and Syndication

If you want to obtain external links to your Web site, you can create a buzz about the site through RSS feeds and syndication. RSS is a method of offering a convenient way to distribute content on your Web site that you'd like others to use. In other words, it's a mechanism to "syndicate" your content.

No one agrees for sure on what RSS stands for. RSS was introduced by Netscape in 1999 and then later abandoned in 2001. They said it stood for Rich Site Summary. Another version of RSS pioneered by UserLand Software supposedly stands for Really Simple Syndication. In yet another version, RSS stands for RDF Site Summary. The reason for so many different names is because there’s some rivalry over who invented RSS. But the purpose is all the same: It’s a program that publishes new information updates from Web sites.

One way of thinking about RSS is to compare it to the funny pages in the newspaper. The artist draws a cartoon and then, through a syndicate, the cartoon is made available to any newspaper that cares to run it, in exchange for a fee. Syndication of Web content via RSS can be an easy way to draw attention to your material, bringing you some traffic and perhaps a little net fame, depending on how good your information is.

So how does RSS syndication work? When you publish a new Web page about a particular topic, you want others interested in that topic to know about it. You can do so by listing the page as an item in your RSS file. You can have the page appear in front of those who read information using RSS readers or news aggregators, which are software programs that allow users to subscribe to and read RSS feeds. RSS also allows people to easily add links to your content within their own Web pages. Bloggers are a huge core audience that loves RSS feeds, and bloggers are the gossip columnists of the Internet. Telephone, telegraph, or tell a blogger, and the information gets out there.

There are several RSS or news aggregators that you can use. Here are just a few:

  • NewsIsFree: A free service. With it, you can create customized pages for different topics, and then have headlines from various resources automatically filled into those pages.

  • Feedreader: A small, free, software-based tool. Just enter the URL of a feed, and the headlines are brought back and made viewable within the application.

  • Radio UserLand: Another long-standing news aggregator. This one starts out with a free 30-day trial, and then you pay an annual fee of $39.95. Enter the URL of a news feed, and it's added to your personal list.

  • Google Reader: An easy-to-use feed reader that also enables you to share, comment on, and trend items. It's integrated with your Google account. As with most things Google, it's completely free.

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