February 2, 2010
If you are struggling with the decision of whether to implement RSS feeds or not, consider the following pros and cons for webmasters who use RSS feeds as part of their content and communication plan…
Benefits (Pros Of Using RSS)
The benefits for a webmaster who opts to implement RSS feeds on their website are numerous:
1. Saves Time
RSS feeds save time. RSS subscribers can quickly scan RSS feeds, without having to visit each and every website. Subscribers can then click on any items they are interested in, to get additional information.
RSS feeds are timely. RSS feeds will automatically update themselves any time new information is posted, so the information your subscribers receive via their RSS reader or news aggregator is timely.
3. Spam Free
RSS is free of spam. Subscribers don’t have to worry about wading through huge amounts of spam in an attempt to get to the information they are actually interested in.
The RSS subscriber chooses what they want to see, and what information they wish to receive. Knowing they have full control, and that they do not have to provide any personal information to subscribe, they will be more likely to opt-in.
5. Unsubscribing Is Easy
It is also easy to unsubscribe from an RSS feed. If they do not like information contained in an RSS feed, they can simply remove the RSS feed from their RSS reader or news aggregator in order to unsubscribe.
6. Alternate Communication Channel
RSS provides you with an alternate communication channel for your business. And the more channels you provide, the more opportunities you have to connect with your customers and potential customers.
7. Expands Audience Through Syndication
The very nature of RSS is that it is designed specifically for syndication (i.e. publication by others). And wide-spread syndication can expand a company’s reach and strengthen the company brand.
8. Can Increase Backlinks
When an RSS feed is syndicated, it can increase the number of links back to the original website. And additional incoming links will often help a website rank better in organic search rankings.
9. Increases Productivity
RSS increases productivity, allowing people to quickly scan new posts and headlines, and only clicking through and spending time on the items of interest.
Whether you decide to implement RSS feeds or not, your competitors likely will. So one way to remain competitive is to implement RSS feeds and other web 2.0 technology, and not allow your competition to get ahead of you.
Negatives (Cons Against Using RSS)
1. Not Widely Adopted Yet
Outside of technical circles, RSS has not yet been widely adopted. While it is becoming more and more popular, it is still far from being a mainstream technology.
2. Content Can Easily Be Copied
Content contained in an RSS feed can easily be copied and replicated, regardless of whether you want it to be or not. Few aggregators respect the copyrights of content contained in an RSS feed.
3. Tracking Subscribers Is Difficult
It is very difficult to accurately track the number of subscribers who read an RSS feed or the items contained in an RSS feed. This is due in part to the fact that at its heart, RSS is all about achieving the widest syndication possible.
4. Source Origination Difficult
It is sometimes difficult to discern the origin of an RSS feed item. When an item is syndicated, the source is not always indicated. The metrics available are not always reflective of the traffic received.
Weigh the pros and cons of implementing an RSS feed as a communication channel, and determine whether the benefits outweigh the risks in your own situation.
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll http://www.recordforall.com audio recording and editing software.