The 21st century can be described as a period of information overload. That’s why we’ve got to be smarter about our content, whether we’re engaging in the public sphere or creating a website.
Having an RSS feed for your website can help you bring valuable content that matters to your audience in a structural and digestible way. If you’re interested in learning more about this classic aggregator of online content that periodically gets a reboot, keep reading our article below for a deep dive into RSS.
What is RSS?
RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary (depending on who you ask), is a web feed that is used to keep up with relevant topics and stay on top of new content from websites. Sometimes referred to as an RSS feed, they appear in the form of an XML document or can sometimes be displayed as an HTML list in an RSS reader.
Each RSS feed is specifically formatted to provide machine-readable information on the publisher and each piece of content, presented in date order. As soon as new content is published on a site or folder connected to the feed, the items are updated simultaneously for all subscribers. This means that the first top results on any RSS reader will always reflect the latest content of a website making RSS an accurate tool for discovering new content.
For example, an RSS feed on your blog could help you automatically publish your content on any one of your social media channels. You hit publish on your blog, and the RSS feed can be configured to make sure the content is then automatically published on the connected social media platform. You could also repeat this process with testimonials on your site, or any other form of content.
RSS is based on the concept of web syndication, which is when online content from one site is made available on another site. Content syndication is a marketing strategy that is often used by news sites, blogs, industry publications, podcasts and other trusted content sources.
What happened to RSS feeds?
Once the darling of the world wide web, RSS has evolved to become a more practical tool for marketers and developers and are less frequently used for general content curation.Today RSS is most commonly used by podcasters, vloggers, journalists and computer programmers in order to distribute and manage content. As well as a traditional RSS, sites that showcase feeds of multi-media like YouTube and DeviantArt also support Media RSS.
Are RSS feeds still relevant in 2023?
Yes. Since RSS feeds distribute content in real-time and segment content into bitesize machine-readable attributes, they are a valuable tool for those wishing to:
Distribute breaking news
Help search engines, such as Google, discover new content
Organize serialized video and podcast content
Google recommends the use of RSS for News Publishers and will accept RSS as a valid sitemap in Google Search Console.
Finding the RSS feed URL of a website
Since the popularity of RSS feeds has dwindled over time, it’s likely that the younger readers of this post are rediscovering RSS feeds as they make their website. For this reason, I’ve prepared a quick lesson on how to locate a site’s RSS feed in case you need to:
If a blog is hosted on Wix, simply add /blog-feed.xml to the end of the URL.
For example, you can see our blog’s RSS feed at: https://www.wix.com/blog/blog-feed.xml.
This feed is particularly valuable for SEO because it includes the full HTML output for each blog post, which helps to improve indexing in search engines.
If a site is published on Medium, type /feed/ before the publication’s name. Go from this: https://medium.com/wix-engineering to this: https://medium.com/feed/wix-engineering.
Medium is an example of a site that includes multiple RSS feeds for every publisher. So as well as including attributes for the channel and the articles, they also have a few lines referencing the webmaster, who manages the site overall, and the central feed for all of their content. This has an SEO benefit because it gives search engines opportunities to discover your content on both the main feed and on the channel feed.
Every YouTube channel has a unique Media RSS feed which includes information about the channel, each individual video, and even the number of views.
To find your YouTube Channel RSS you can search the source code by:
Going to the Channel homepage
Right clicking view source or update address in navigation bar to include view-source: before the full url of your channel
Press CTRL+F and search for “rssurl”
Copy and paste this feed into the browser to see the full feed.
Putting your RSS to work is essential to growing the organic reach of your podcast and helping your followers to stay up to date with your latest recording.
To find podcast RSS for a podcast you would like to follow, visit the homepage of the podcast and look for the RSS icon.
If you have started a podcast and would like to find the RSS feed, visit your podcast hosting provider to get the address, manage the settings and use the feed for podcast marketing.
You can also uncover the RSS feed of any website by using a Chrome Extension like Get RSS Feed URL or checking the source code of the homepage and/or blog feed page. Let’s take a look at how to find the RSS feed of our blog.
Right click an empty area of the homepage (see image).
Select “View Page Source,” or any similar wording that may appear, according to the type of web browser.
Search “RSS” via Control/command + F on the page. Look out for an RSS URL. This web address is what you’ll need to plug into the RSS feed reader.
It is important to note while all Wix sites include an RSS feed, other websites may not. And while an RSS may be discoverable on the home page and the main blog feed page, the RSS may not be visible from other pages on the site.
How to use an RSS feed
Follow content creators
If you’re a user looking to get content from RSS feeds, the first step is to download an RSS reader, like Feedly or Feeder. Then you can add various RSS feeds to the reader, thus organizing everything in one place. You’ll also receive automated notifications on updated content from each site.
Similarly, you can use RSS feeds to send content directly to Slack channels using their dedicated app.
If you’re a website owner who produces content of your own, you can take advantage of RSS by using it to help your content distribution strategy.
Social media posts
If you’re sharing your content on social media, you can use RSS to put your social media posting on autopilot. Using a tool like Dlvrt.it, you can pull new content directly from your site’s RSS feed and onto your social feed.
With an RSS feed on your blog, you can also distribute content via automated email newsletters. For example, an RSS email campaign that pulls new content from your feed and automatically sends it off to your subscribers. Integrate Mailchimp with your Wix blog so that you can create an RSS campaign based on the schedule you choose.
Manage your content
Content managers will be pleased to know that there are a number of tools which utilize RSS to make it easier to organize and optimize your content.
There is a dedicated Google Sheets formula for scrapping RSS feeds which makes it easy to pull out the latest content of your site for analysis or review.
Zapier’s RSS tool allows you to connect your RSS to project management tools like Monday.com.
So whether you are following RSS to follow the content of others, or harnessing your RSS to distribute your own content, they are still one of the best ways to filter out the noise - so to speak - and take control of the topics you want to read (or be read) amid a sea of content.
Connect your RSS feed
For those who created a blog on Wix, you can make your followers even happier by gently nudging them to where your site’s feed is located by adding an RSS icon to your blog. With that URL, they’ll be able to subscribe to your feed via an RSS reader app.