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Easy to use Simple Pie RSS publisher

Having previously raged about Simple Pie I thought you might like to see that it is really quite easy to set up a site using the parser.

I have set up a simple site (pun intended) using the script to display items from eBay. The site takes a feed and generates a list of the most recent items from a single seller. I set it up as a test site but it shows the potential of the script especially to compliment your sites.

The great thing about the script it is easy enough to use eBay affiliate links similar to the way AuctionAds works except you get the extra flexibility to display the content how you want.

Save time by using RSS feeds in forums

If like me you spend a lot of time trolling forums you soon find that you have whiled away another significant portion of your day. These days most forums have RSS feeds for each section of discussion that you can subscribe to in your RSS reader.

By subscribing to a particular section of a forum you can keep up to date with all the new posts and discussions that are going on. On busy forums I would not recommend subscribing to their main feed that contains every single new post. This would be way too much information and information you don't really need.

RSS forum feeds keeping you in the know

To give you a time saving example let's look at the ever popular webmaster hang out Digital Point. You can find numerous webmaster related discussions occurring, far too many to keep up with unless you have the whole day free.

If we wanted to find out about new sites that are coming up for sale then we could subscribe to the sub forums sites feed. This would contain all of the new threads that have been started, essentially letting us know when a new site is up for sale.

Whilst this in itself will save us time we may not have our feed reader open all day so why not use a desktop widget such as the one built into Windows Vista. Alternatively there are plenty of good widgets available to download. This way you can see new threads appear from your desktop without having to visit the forum.

Benefits of using RSS

Exactly why do we use RSS to create feeds and read feeds. What are the benefits to the publisher and the reader. Based on my experiences at RSS Newsniche I will tell you how to get the best from RSS. There are 2 sides to every RSS coin, the reader and the publisher. Why do publishers publish and why do readers read.

Publishing RSS feeds

Lets look at the reasons why a publisher would publish an RSS feed and how you can benefit as a publisher and what to avoid.

  • Provides an additional channel to attract readers
  • RSS readers are loyal readers
  • RSS subscribers with their own blogs will blog about you

The downside is that people reading your RSS feed will not be visiting your site to read your content. This will mean lower visitor stats for your site and potentially hurt your revenue gained via advertising on your site.

It's not all as bad as it seems as repeat loyal visitors to your site tend to click on ads less anyway. You can offset some of the lost revenue by placing ads in your RSS feed.

Subscribing to RSS feeds

In my experience the biggest benefits to be had from RSS is by subscribing to feeds. With an RSS feed the subscriber is in control. You decide whether you want to remain subscribed to any particular feed.

As an RSS consumer you get to have all the new content from all your favourite sites all in one place. This not only saves you time with not having to visit each site individually but you also tend to get the content without all the peripheral content such as adverts.

John Chow aRSSed for it

John Chow self proclaimed epitome of evil (not part of the axis of evil) is asking for reviews of his site. So in fine RSS tradition we will take a look at how an 'A' list blogger uses RSS.

One of the first things you notice about John's blog is that he places a link to his feed above the fold and at the top of the right navigation. John has also specified that he publishes full feeds and displays his subscriber count via the Feedburner counter.

Additionally at the top of his blog are a subscribe to link for both his blog posts and separately the comments for the blog. The site is also has one click feed subscription allowing you to easily add John's feed to your reader.

The RSS effect

I would say the RSS placement is optimal on this blog and with a very high readership of mostly web savvy readers I would have thought his RSS subscriber count would be higher than it currently reads. If you look at Problogger there subscriber count is much higher with not a proportionally greater amount of traffic.

A few thing s you can do to encourage new readers.

  • Subscription button above the fold.
  • Display your feed counter.
  • One click feed enable your site.
  • Use the feed icon.

Although making these changes is no guarantee of increased RSS traffic most webmasters should benefit from making these relatively simple changes.

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