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What is RSS and how do I use it?

  1. What is a site's RSS feed?
  2. What is an RSS feed?
  3. What is RSS made of?
  4. What is RSS import?
  5. Benefits of an RSS feed
  6. How to add RSS to your site
  7. Output

Anyone who regularly navigates to sites with a lot of content will notice a small logo that stands out with its orange color. This is a link to an RSS feed. We'll explain what it is and what you can use it for.

What is a site's RSS feed?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. This component allows website content (eg news) to be displayed outside in a special structured form.

RSS feed is a modern form of newsletter. Instead of receiving new articles by email, you can collect all the news you subscribe to in one RSS reader.

This way, you have a quick overview of new interesting articles without having to visit all the resources separately. If you see a new article in the reader and want to continue reading, just click on the link.

RSS can be used to deliver targeted, structured information from a website in the form of text, images, audio and video. The focus is on the concise transmission of important information comparable to news. The user gets into the real post only when they click on the link. All data formats are delivered via an RSS feed.

What is an RSS feed?

The content of a website that is available in RSS format is called an RSS feed.

Pipes are files whose structure is comparable to that of "regular" HTML pages. But unlike classic websites, RSS feeds are for content that is regularly updated.

To be able to use the RSS feed, you must subscribe to it. Basically, such subscriptions work with most popular browsers and email programs, sometimes also with audio players such as iTunes or Winamp. There are also special programs for reading channels - readers, which are suitable for managing a large number of subscriptions. Online services such as Google Reader allow you to browse RSS feeds across multiple devices.

Typical uses for RSS feeds are news sites, blogs or podcasts where the user wants to keep up to date with the latest news without having to revisit the site. In addition to RSS, the Atom format is widely used. Differences from RSS are technical in code structure and most readers can handle both formats.

In addition to browsing subscribed feeds, the reader usually lists the titles from the currently selected feed. Clicking on one of these headings shows the summary of the article, and the next click opens the entire article.

What is RSS made of?

The functionality of the RSS feed is very simple.

An RSS or Atom feed is an XML file - just plain text that, like an HTML file, has various tags. The file contains structured content as text, but does not contain layout, navigation, or other additional information. To visually display and attract users to link to a file, a design widget is often used.

The channel reader can use markings to recognize when the channel has been updated or who is the author of the article, or graphics, audio files or links can be integrated into it.

A feed reader, also called a feed aggregator, is used not only to browse subscriptions, but also to store information about which articles have already been read and which are marked for later, and can also store old unread articles.

What is RSS import?

Import refers to placing a link to RSS in a reader, browser, or on a page on a user's site.

In the first step, the website plugin makes the content available via RSS in XML format. RSS content is available in a separate frame via a dedicated link for all site visitors. Once the visitor sees the RSS link, they can also copy it and use to paste it further.

After the link is imported, the RSS feed is either called directly in the browser, implemented in an RSS reader, or displayed as a frame on the user's site.

Once the RSS feed is integrated in one of these three ways, the software behind it updates the feed regularly. In other words, the software regularly asks the RSS provider's server if updates are available. If so, new content will immediately appear in the first position of the channel.

Benefits of an RSS feed

Your own channel has undeniable advantages that will help your resource grow faster and attract new users.

  • When using a script or service provider, the feed is updated automatically.

  • Your users will be informed about changes to your site without having to go to it. If you have interesting texts (it is best if the feed contains a short bullet, then all the text is on the website), the number of visitors to your home page will continuously increase.

  • Many browsers indicate that the website offers an RSS feed, and it can be conveniently saved in the browser as a feed bookmark.

  • Search engines like Google can read RSS feeds and use them very well to collect data. This leads to more hits and better rankings.

  • The XML file can also be integrated into other applications using Java or PHP script.

  • Some services, such as blog directories, require RSS files.

  • Improving the convenience of mailing. Thanks to the flexibility of modern readers, the user can view emails as RSS feeds, which are sent like regular newsletters. Mailings are processed and displayed in the reader as channels, which allows you to quickly view only relevant information.

Benefits of a channel in the reader for your users:

  • Automatically updated information about new content in channels.

  • You can easily unsubscribe and delete from the feed.

  • Anonymous channel search - no channel registration required.

  • You can choose the update period yourself: your users can use a feed reader that updates the news every 5 minutes.

  • Timely message information - the user is immediately informed about a new message through the channel reader.

How to add RSS to your site

An RSS feed can be easily embedded into your newsletter. However, before you start, make sure your RSS or Atom feed is valid. First check the syntax of the channel on the validation website, for example: https://validator.w3.org/feed/.Falls.

You don't need to code the code yourself - there are many providers that provide the technology you need. All you need to do is enter the original feed URL and copy the generated HTML to your website.

You will need a "feed generator", which is a program that generates the HTML required for the web from a source XML file. A Google search results in a fair selection of free offers. You don't need to install anything, just enter the details into the web form

You can add some design details if needed. After clicking Show My Code, the service will generate HTML code. Then enter the resulting URL in the appropriate place on your site.

The feed generator shape usually already shows a preview so you can evaluate the project directly. Embed the HTML code in your site where you want the feeds to appear (usually a space on top of the header, or near the left or right menu column). The example shown is integrated into the design of the final site:


From 2000 to 2020, the popularity of RSS feeds grew continuously, and now almost all sites have their own RSS feeds. This is due not only to the development of technology, but the strict requirements of users who want to be constantly aware of events, but not spend a lot of time searching for news. – after all, one glance at the Feed Reader is enough, and if the new content seems worth reading, then you can already open it completely.

Experience shows that Google Reader and Bloglines are increasingly being used to read feeds, they have email support, and similar services are likely to play a key role in receiving news in the future.



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