RSS For Rookies

RSS is a popular topic of discussion today among anyone who does business online. If you are looking to add RSS to your website but are new to the concept, you probably have a few questions. The good news is that RSS is accessible to everyone, even the greenest rookies.

The Basics of RSS Newsfeeds

RSS can be read as, “Rich Site Summary” or “ Really Simple Syndication”. Both phrases mean essentially the same thing. An RSS newsfeed is offered by a website as a way for readers to conveniently access information from the website as it is posted.

An RSS newsfeed works in the same way that a stock ticker does. You anonymously subscribe to newsfeeds and they are delivered to your computer automatically. There’s no need to visit each individual website for that day’s information, it is delivered directly to you via the RSS feed.

Who Is RSS For?

RSS is for everyone. Anyone interested in keeping up with current information on any number of topics can benefit from RSS newsfeeds. RSS eliminates the need emailed newsletters. No more wading through your spam mailbox every week to retrieve a newsletter with information that you requested from a website. Once the requested information is subscribed to by a user, the RSS reader collects and stores it, for perusal at your leisure. You can archive it, read it immediately or just let it collect dust until you choose to delete it.

How Do I Get An RSS Newsfeed?

There are an endless number of possible applications for RSS newsfeeds. One of the best uses of an RSS feed is to place it on your personalized search engine homepage. With

a few steps, you can be reading RSS newsfeeds almost immediately.

The first step is to get an RSS newsreader or aggregator. Some of the most popular forms of newsreaders are available from Google, MSN and Yahoo. If you already have an account with one of these sites, sign in and start adding feeds to your home page.

The next step is to collect the information that you want to keep up to date on. You can either use the specialized RSS feed search option or just enter a basic search for websites that are relevant to your desired topic of interest.

You add content either by clicking the “add stuff” link or by copying the URL of the website and pasting it into the add box. Once you have added your desired content from various websites, you can drag and drop them so that they appear in an order that is convenient for you. You can delete any items and add them back later at any time. RSS feeds are free.

These instructions are generalized for all search engine home pages. I will be posting specific, step by step instructions for personalizing home pages on Google, Yahoo and MSN in another article.

Starting with a personalized home page is the easiest way to get your feet wet with RSS newsfeeds. Once you have mastered the search engine homepage, you will be ready to move on to a stand alone RSS aggregator application. RSS is a wonderful, time saving tool. The fact that RSS is free and easy to use is just icing on the cake.

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