Friday, July 29, 2005

START SPREADIN' THE NEWS

To paraphrase Ol Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, "Start spreadin' the news about RSS." Maybe you are an Internet marketer or publisher that already understands the basics of RSS and can see the use for RSS on your web site. But according to Internet market research, about 12% of online Americans are using RSS although only 9% of them really understand it. Let's assume for the moment that the rest of the world fits into those figures as well, or not far from it. Those are not very good statistics for a new technology that is supposedly simple to use. Internet publishers and marketers have a lot of work to do in order to get web site visitors using RSS and thereby increasing the chances of repeat visits.

One way to do this is to follow the BBC News' example. On their web site, http://news.bbc.co.uk, every page I viewed has one of those orange "RSS" buttons like so:



(Don't like orange? There are blue buttons available. Or you can make a button to suit your site. Just make sure it stands out from the surrounding text.)

A link entitled What is RSS? is usually beside or below the orange button on the BBC web pages. The linked-to page gives an explanation of RSS, how to start using it, where to get a Reader app, and a breakdown of the available BBC RSS feeds. This is a great way to introduce RSS newbies to the technology and something that all feed publishers should be doing. Many large newspapers are not even offering an RSS feed on their web site, let alone explaining what RSS is if they do have a feed. (If they are, it's not obvious on their site.) Imagine how many other web sites are not offering RSS. If you want to increase awareness of RSS, you have to contribute to the effort. Make sure that your "RSS", "RSS 2.0", "Atom" or "XML" buttons stand out on the page. Add an "RSS Explained"-type of page to your site that's easy to find and written as plainly as possible.

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By the way, here's a neat idea that Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper has for their XML feeds. Each of their RSS XML links, instead of hyperlinking to the actual XML file, causes a javascript window to pop up. This little dialog has a text area contain the URL of the feed selected, as well as an "OK" button and a "CANCEL" button. All you do is copy the URL's text and paste it into the "Add feed" dialog of your fave RSS reader. This beats the steps you usually have to go through to copy the URL of a feed.


(c) Copyright 2005 Raj Kumar Dash, http://rssmarketer.blogspot.com

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