Practical Ecommerce

Using RSS To Expand Your Online Exposure

Rarely in the last 10 years has there been a technology with so much potential to explode your business’s online exposure for such little cost. Real Simple Syndication (RSS) makes it easy for non-techies to automatically display targeted third-party content on their websites and blogs while distributing their own content to other sites using software and scripts available freely online. Distributing content using RSS “feeds” can also lead to a significant increase in search-engine traffic without paying a dime. Any business, regardless of size, can put RSS to work immediately and benefit massively just by learning a few simple fundamentals.

Start a blog and let it feed

The easiest way to get started using RSS to promote your business involves simply setting up a “blog” that automatically creates and updates an RSS feed for you and then “pings” (notifies) significant sites such as Yahoo! and Google every time a new item gets posted. WordPress.org offers by far the most popular blogging software available online, with an extensive user forum and plenty of plugins to automate certain tasks such as adding audio and video.

In the beginning, “blogs” were basically an online diary to record your thoughts; but “blogs” evolved into dynamic websites that non-technical people could update immediately without HTML editors or FTP programs. Blogs allow their authors tomake instant website updates through a computer anywhere in the world with a web browser and Internet connection. Blogs also allow readers to respond to the author’s posts, provide additional information, links, expanded opinions and more. In short, an active “blog” creates an interactive community with the author as the hub and the readers as the spokes of the wheel that keep the whole cycle turning. Unlike traditional “static” web pages where content rarely (if ever) changes, an active blog evolves in a state of constant and never-ending renewal (which leads to consistent repeat visits by customers and prospects).

The RSS “feed” created by your blog increases your exposure primarily in two ways

First, the search engines can pick up your feed, re-spider your site quickly whenever you update and list your individual blog posts in their search results. Since blog posts usually focus tightly on one idea or topic under an industry-specific theme, search engines often list those posts prominently since they should contain timely and relevant information.

Second, other sites can syndicate your RSS feed on their websites or blogs. This can range from a list of posting headlines, to a headline and summary, to the full post, depending on what you make available in your RSS feed settings. If you write a compelling post, others will pick it up and display it on their sites with a link back to you, which can increase traffic to your site.

By the way, blogs can also generate massive exposure for you using “trackback” links. Rather than posting your blog content through RSS, other bloggers will tell their readers about a great post you made, and then automatically create links between the two sites based on your post and their comments. A few really good posts can get you a significant number of links that bring traffic for months — even years.

Be consistent

Perhaps the most exciting, effective and most under-utilized way to harness the power of RSS involves riding along on other people’s RSS feeds by consistently publishing articles and press releases. Using services such as Submityourarticle.com and Prweb.com, you can easily make your content available for others to publish on their blogs and websites in exchange for including your “resource box” (which contains a link back to your site). Thousands of blogs and websites regularly find content distributed through these sites and publish it, thereby generating significant exposure for the original content creator.

The moral? If you want to harness the power of RSS, your business needs to take simple, but consistent steps. Publish a blog and post at least two or three times a week — daily if possible. Publish articles and actively make them available for others to distribute in their own RSS fees. Cultivate a relationship with your blog readers by making it easy to start and maintain a dialog with them.

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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