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RSS Feeds – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By  Steve

RSS Feeds - So What!

Before getting started on what I think about RSS, perhaps we could consider this question, what exactly is an RSS Feed?

RSS is a type of web feed that allows users and applications to receive regular updates from a website or blog of their choice. The acronym RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. I wanted to give you a few reasons as to why you could and should consider using RSS Feeds in your business. And I’m going to do that by showing you that people searching for RSS Feeds has dropped and been dropping for some time!

Google Trends RSS Feeds

​If you take a look at Google Trends https://trends.google.com a tool I use from time to time, you will see the global change since 2015. There was quite a large drop from 2015 to 2016.

​The reasons why RSS has steadily dropped is open to questions but the best explanation I’ve seen, comes from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/a3mm4z/the-rise-and-demise-of-rss
“Perhaps the most persuasive explanation is exactly the one offered by Gillmor in 2009. Social networks, just like RSS, provide a feed featuring all the latest news on the internet. Social networks took over from RSS because they were simply better feeds”.

Why Do I Think RSS is far from Dead?

Before the advent of social media news feeds, RSS was used for several reasons. And despite social media those reasons have never gone away, at least they haven’t for certain types of people and certain types of businesses.

What problems does RSS solve?

There are people who wish to do some research, aggregate or gather information or perhaps curate content in a helpful useful way and RSS is still wonderful for these types of applications. RSS is a better way to be notified of new and changed content. Notifications of changes to multiple websites or newsfeeds are handled easily, and the results are presented to you in a well-organized way provided one uses the right tools! And biggest of all, you have control over the articles and news you wish to read and learn about.

There is something else RSS could help you with and that something relates to getting your website/blog found by people who are looking for products and services to buy or want to communicate with you. The last paragraph covers that, so scoot below if you wish to. For those of you interested in research, please read on.

What do you want – Research or Getting Found?

Researching, for example-

  • What is going on in your marketplace?
  • What competitors are up to?
  • Gathering info for your own blog posts, twitter posts etc

There are a few steps to go through when wishing to do research. These are my steps, you don’t have to do the same, you may have better ideas for doing this than me – hint, please share in the comments below as it will help others.

Step 1 - Set up and Use Google Keyword Planner, this is the tool associated with your Google Ads. If you don’t have a Google Ads account, set one up, you will need a credit card, but you won’t be charged unless you decide to run some ads.
I set mine up and just paused the advertising campaign.

Step 2 - There are two ways to search for keyword ideas – Use a word or phrase as the seed keyword or enter a web address/domain as a filter. It might be a bit cheeky, but you could type a keyword or phrase into Google or Bing and see what websites appear at the top.

All you need do is enter the website you are most interested in and then pop the url into Google Keyword Tracker and allow Google to provide you with what it thinks are the relevant keywords. Either way, will normally deliver, hundreds and sometime thousands of keywords and phrases. Google Ads link https://ads.google.com Once Google has done its thing, you will see hopefully hundreds of suggestions.

Step 3 Download all keyword ideas as a csv file. If you have used a word or phrase to do your initial search, I’d suggest you then look at keyword ideas and grouped ideas. You will see these on the left-hand side of your Google Ads screen.

Step 4 - Have a scan through your spreadsheet and delete the keywords which don’t really fit with your niche research.

Step 5 – Okay, this is going to take a little while but if you do this step you will be a research ninja!
Grab a drink of some description and with your favourite browser and search engine put one of your keywords into the search box and type “Best (your keyword) blogs”
You might need to adjust keyword or phrase a little, but you should end up with a list of blogs which relate to your keyword.
Now, copy your list of blogs and put them into a spreadsheet

You can do the same for other keywords and repeat the process until you are satisfied.

Step 6 – You now need to find the RSS feed for each of the blogs in your spreadsheet. This may not always be easy because some results won’t be blogs at all!

In most cases the RSS feed will look like this https://yourbusinessjourney.co.uk/feed As you can see my feed is https://yourbusinessjourney.co.uk with /feed added on.

If putting, /feed onto the main website URL doesn’t work you can (if you wish) look at the source code and search for feed or RSS and see what shows up. You may decide this is all too much like hard work and leave it there!

To see the source code, go to a blank area of the website and right click, there will normally be something there like View Page Source. Click it and you will see all the source code. Search for feed or RSS and see if it’s there somewhere.

If you click on https://yourbusinessjourney.co.uk/feed you will see that it outputs an XML file. This is a file and file structure which RSS Readers are able to read. Most RSS Readers can also output an OPML file and import the same file. For the technical, OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) is an XML format for outlines Originally developed by UserLand as a native file format for the outliner application!

This enables us to import and export files as and when we get bored with our favourite RSS Reader. Okay, we have gathered all our important RSS

Step 7 – Find an RSS Reader you like and can comfortably afford. Here are a few worth considering and in alphabetical order, they are;

My personal favourite because it’s low priced, gives me lots of control and is quick, happens to be https://bazqux.com
To those of you who would like to save time and have access to a lot more functionality, I’d suggest you explore https://www.feedspot.com

They do give you a seven-day free trial and will start charging after 7 days. As of the time of this post, expect to be charged $19 per month after your free trial.

Why do I suggest Feedspot?

Much of the heavy lifting has already been done for you. This will save you a ton of time. On their page, they say, “For Businesses, Professionals and Marketers

  1. Get more traffic, leads, and sales. Feedspot helps publishers get new and targeted visitors. 
  2. Identify Blogs and Social Influencers who can promote your content. 
  3. Identify where your content will hold most value and reach right customers.
  4. Keep track of new updates from all the blogs in your industry in one place using Feedspot Reader. Content comes straight to you, saving you the time to go and check every site on your own.
  5. ​Find out who is blogging about your industry and reach out to them for your own promotion.

If your main objective is to get found, you could add your RSS feed (if you have one) to a number of directories and that would include Feedspot.

There are ​a number of other directories out on the blogosphere but some of them make adding your website difficult and ​can be costly, but it can be done. I wouldn't suggest you spend too much time doing this but will leave the final decision to you.

Hope you found this of some help, if you have any alternative ideas or points you think are worth considering please comment below. I do read all comments and will post all comments unless they are rude or derogatory.

Steve


A Tennis playing father of two. The two in question are at an age where everything they do is correct and anything I suggest is stupid!Luckily business is a tad easier... Once I start to understand the challenges and your vision, I can usually plot a way forward. Understanding and Discovery are my two watch words.

​Steve

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