17 Aug

Publishing Through A RSS Feed – Quick Guide

This is a quick guide to publishing your web content through an RSS feed. It is not meant to be extensive, it is meant to get your feet in the door of publishing content using RSS in the quickest time possible.

RSS File Format

A RSS feed is simply an XML file containing information on pages within your site. The RSS file format is as follows:

<?xml version=”1.0″ ?>
<rss version=”2.0″>
<channel>
<title>Title Text </title>
<link>Link to site’s home page </link>
<description>Description of the feed</description>

<item>
<title>Page Title</title>
<description>Page Description</description>
<link>Page Link</link>
<author>Email to Contact You On</author>
<pubDate>Published Date</pubDate>
</item>

</channel>
</rss>

Where the contents from <item> to </item> are repeated for all the content you want to publish through the RSS file. An example feed would look like:

<?xml version=”1.0″ ?>
<rss version=”2.0″>
<channel>
<title>Search Engine Optimization Tips</title>
<link>http://www.elixirsystems.com</link>
<description>
Search engine optimization tips from Elixir Systems. Helpful advice covering
all aspects of the search engine optimization process.
</description>

<item>
<title>Monitor and Tweak Your Way to Great Search Engine Rankings – Part 1</title>
<description>
The final stage of the search engine optimization loop, monitoring your site’s rankings and
tweaking the site as necessary to bring up any keywords that are not ranked well.
</description>
<link>http://www.elixirsystems.com/articles/a040709.php</link>
<author>customerservice@elixirsystems.com</author>
<pubDate>24 Jul 04 15:00:00 +0700</pubDate>
</item>

</channel>
</rss>

Information on RSS date format (external link).

RSS Validation

Now you have your RSS file set up and uploaded to your website you’ll want to run it through a RSS Validator – this ensures the contents meets the RSS specification and ensures anyone who wants to use your content can. To find suitable tools type ‘rss validator’ into your favorite search engine, the one I use and prefer due to it’s helpful error messages is Feed Validator at http://feedvalidator.org/

If the validator comes back with the error ‘Feeds should not be served with the “text/plain” media type‘ you will need to define the .rss file extension as a RSS file. If you’re running Apache the easiest way to do this is to create a .htaccess file in your website’s root directory and add the following lines:

addtype application/rdf+xml rdf
addtype application/rss+xml rss
addtype application/atom+xml atom
addtype application/xml xml

These lines will take care of your current and future RSS/XML/atom needs. Microsoft IIS this same task can be completed using the IIS MMC.

Provide RSS Links

Provide the feed as both a hot link and as a URL that can be cut and pasted into the visitors favorite RSS reader. Example RSS links can be found here.

RSS feeds should also be declared in the <head> section of the HTML for the pages on your site. Example code might look like:

<link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml” title=”Newsletter” href=”http://www.elixirsystems.com/newsletter/archive/newsletter.rss” />

<link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml” title=”Press Releases” href=”http://www.elixirsystems.com/press_releases/press_releases.rss” />

This will then cause the latest browsers (IE7, Mozilla 2) to offer the visitor the option to sign up for one of your feeds.

Get Your Content Indexed and Listed

One of the easiest ways to get your content known by the search engines is to load it into the MyYahoo part of the Yahoo! search engine.

  • Login to http://my.yahoo.com using your Yahoo! login
  • Click the ‘Add/Delete Pages’ button
  • Click the ‘Make my own..’ option (towards end of the page)
  • Tick ‘RSS Headlines (BETA)’ and click ‘Finished’ at the bottom of the page.
  • The next page will ask for your RSS feed URL – cut and paste it in and press ‘Add’

Use Your Feed

You’ve gone to all the trouble of setting up an RSS feed, you might as well use it. On this site we use it for the index pages for the documents, and also to provide cross reference information (see the SEO Tips index page where the top half is local content, the bottom half is useful information in the articles directory). The feed is also used in the sitemap to ensure it always stays up to date with the changing content on the site.

Further Reading

Once you have your RSS data feed up and running you might want to add to it. This document describes the RSS 2.0 specification in an easy to read format.

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