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Being the web-mistress of
a resource site about search engine marketing, I'm always on the lookout for
new ways to promote my site. Like many other web site owners, I don't have an enormous marketing budget and must rely on my own resources to spread the
about my content.
As you would expect, one
effective method of promotion that I utilize is search engine optimization.
This ensures the search engines regularly visit my site and update my pages in
their indexes. Another is the circulation of a regular newsletter. But the
real secret to attracting more traffic is to add bucket loads of fresh
content. Providing you promote this new content effectively, it can act like a
magnet on your site, pulling in new visitors every single day and giving you
the opportunity to turn those visitors into loyal followers or, (if you sell
products and services), paying customers.
Fresh content improves the
"stickiness" of your site too - giving visitors a reason to return
to your site on a regular basis. And of course the search engines reward
popular sites with more link popularity and a higher search ranking. Adding
new site content is one thing, but just how do you spread the word about this
new content and place it in front of potential visitors?
Well take my site for
example. I had recently added a web
log (known on the Internet as a "blog") about the search engine
industry, which I updated daily with news and articles.
I had seen similar
sites having their content syndicated on industry news portals such as Moreover,
etc and I wanted a piece of the action. Problem was I had no idea how to go
A fellow moderator in the ihelpyou
search engine forums (Dan) told me I required an "RSS Feed" - a
special file containing the content I wanted syndicated - so that the news
sites could grab it from my site instantly. Dan offered to give me a hand to
set up the file and so began our quest! I'll let Dan take over from here and
explain exactly how we did it and how you can set up your own news feed.
Kalena. An RSS news feed provides information about your site's content that
enables other sites to effectively link to it. There are actually a few
different flavors of RSS – for purposes of this article, we'll work with RSS
version 0.91, which is the most commonly used on the web today. We'll also
focus on the very basic elements of a news feed, and leave the advanced stuff
for another time.
The RSS file itself is a
fairly simple text file. Although it uses an XML language format, the code
will be pretty familiar to anyone who has worked with HTML to edit web pages.
look at a simplified version of the RSS file we created for Kalena’s site:
version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1" ?>
Engine News Blog</title>
<description>search engine news web log, tracking daily
in the search engine optimization industry</description>
<title>Search Engine News Blog</title>
<description>Search Engine News Blog</description>
Defines Ethical SEO</title>
Offends Gay Community in UK</title>
An RSS feed consists of
one or more "channels." A single channel will be sufficient for the
majority of sites. Each channel, in turn, contains information about one or more news articles.
A channel consists of the
following required information:
Title: the name of the channel (in the above
example, Kalena’s channel title is called "Search Engine News
Link: the URL for the channel's main web page
(the page on Kalena’s site where the news items are displayed)
Description: a description of the channel's
purpose and content
The first two lines in our
RSS feed example define this as an RSS feed. The <channel> tag comes
next and contains the required information about this news channel (as listed above). Optional information follows these items and includes language,
copyright info, contact email addresses, and an image (logo) that can be
displayed with the channel's headlines. The above example contains all these
options, but you can leave these out of your own feed if you prefer.
In addition to the
required information, the channel must contain at least one news item.
News items consist of the
Title: this is the headline that will be
displayed for the news item
Link: the URL where the full news item can be
found (for best results, each item should be on its own unique web page)
Description: a description of the news item
– sometimes referred to as a "teaser."
The first two elements are
the minimum expected by nearly all sites that carry headlines. The description
field is optional, as some syndicators will ignore this field altogether, posting only the item headline. Because of this, Kalena’s RSS file does not
include item descriptions.
Below that, you’ll see
two news items listed, “Google Defines Ethical SEO” and “Yahoo Offends Gay Community in UK”. Additional news items would follow the
same format and be listed directly below within <item> </item>
tags. Finally, the last two lines of the feed are closing tags – XML, like
HTML, requires opening and closing tags.
To preview what Kalena’s
RSS feed looks like when syndicated, click here:
You can create your own
simple RSS file with just about any text editor – I set up the sample above
with Notepad. Once you’ve created the text file, do the following:
the file with .rss as the extension (example: mynews.rss) and upload it to
the main folder of your website.
your RSS feed by running it through the RSS
Validator to make sure it's set up correctly.
the “valid RSS” logo on your site (available from the link above) and
provide a visible link to your feed (link: http://www.mydomain.com/mynews.rss)
from your site page/s. You could say something like Kalena uses on her
Click below to feature our Search Engine News
Blog headlines on your site. RSS
Feed For This Page.
syndicate your content on their sites (the Wytheville
Community College News Center provides this service for free).
your feed to content aggregators. Some sources are provided below.
your feed regularly by adding new items to the .rss file and ensuring each item has it’s own link on your web site.
keep your feed fresh, try to keep your channel items to a maximum of five, deleting older items from your feed as you update it. The dates next to
your news items will adjust depending on when content aggregators pick
So, that's the basics of RSS! We have only been able to scratch the surface in
this short lesson, but it's enough to get you started. A complete description
of the RSS 0.91 format can be found at
and more resources on creating your own newsfeed can be found here:
Up Your Own Newsfeed
Lo-Fi Content Syndication
Syndication With RSS (Blog about RSS)
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Dan. Ok, so your feed is created, you've verified it works and you've set up
syndicators can grab it easily. But you're not finished yet! Now you need to
spread the word about your feed. Here are a few content aggregators where you
can register your newsfeed:
You only need to do this
once and then syndicators tracking your feed automatically pick up your new
feed items as you update them. You can also download one of these RSS readers
to examine your own newsfeed:
So there you go. Not as difficult as you thought
huh? With a little effort, your site can be rubbing shoulders with the big
players on major news portals. Enjoy the traffic!
Copyright © 2002 by
Dan Thies and Kalena Jordan. All rights reserved under U.S. and international
The above article may be
re-published as long as the content remains unchanged and the following
paragraph is included at the end of the article, including the URL links:
Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia and New Zealand, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running her own SEO business Web Rank, Kalena manages Search Engine College, an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing subjects.
Thies is the author of "Search Engine
Optimization Fast Start,"
a concise, step-by-step guide to search engine positioning for the
beginner to intermediate level webmaster - available now at http://www.cannedbooks.com.
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