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February 28, 2008

Top 10 RSS Promotion Tips

Creating a feed is not enough – not if you want people to read it. You need to let people know that your feed exists and try to get them to subscribe to it. Promoting a feed is similar to promoting a Web site or an e-mail newsletter. You have to work at it a bit. Luckily, some easy-to-use tools are available to help you, and im going to show you each, and how to use them effectively.

Registering Your Feed with Directories

The number one way to let people – those outside your usual range of contacts – know that you have a feed is to register it with as many directories as possible. This concept is similar to registering your Web site with Web-site directories such as Yahoo!

Of course, you should also promote your Web site content itself. When you get people to your Web site, if they like the content, they may look for your feed so that they can keep up to date on any changes that appear on your site. Check out this article for more tips on promoting your website/feed. Online Marketing Techniques.

RSS is a relatively new technology that’s causing a lot of excitement, and many people want to get in on the act – so they start directory sites.

Some sites hope that you’ll come for the free feeds and stay to buy customized, specialized feeds or other RSS-related services.

So, you need to do the legwork and register with as many directories as you can. To get you going, checkout Kevins article, a post where he has listed the best and most valuable sites and directories to submit your blog/rss feed too.

If your feed is based on a blog, you can still register at all the RSS directories, but you should also register at blog directories. Blogging is a whole world onto itself. In fact, more blog directories exist than RSS directories. Do a Web search using the keywords blog and directory, and you’ll find what seems like millions of listings.

To reach those who aren’t as RSS savvy or as motivated to find feeds, read on, as we look at other ways to promote your feed.

Linking to Your Feed

Of course, when people do find your site, you want your website visitors to subscribe to your feed, so you need to put an RSS or XML button on your site. I recommend you stick with the universally known orange rss button.

Add a hyperlink to the button, linking to your RSS feed’s file. To add a hyperlink to a button, select the button, and use your web creation software’s hyperlink command. In the HTML code, the result looks something like the following:

<a href=”autocad_tips_newsletter.xml”><imgsrc=”images/rss_btn.gif”></a>

Now visitors can easily subscribe to your feed.

You need to make clear what the RSS feed is about. If you have a page that includes many different types of content, label the RSS button with the name of your feed. If you have a place on your site for visitors to sign up for an e-mail newsletter, that’s a good place to put your RSS link. Then people can choose which way they want to receive information from you.

Getting Auto-Discovered

Some RSS readers can automatically find RSS feeds on a Web page. This feature is called auto-discovery.

You can ensure that this auto-discovery works by using the link HTML tag and the code on any web page that contains an RSS feed. You place this code in the head section of your page, which means between the <head> and </head> tags. Here’s the code:

<link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml” title=”RSS” href=””>

You can put anything you want for the title attribute, but it should relate to your feed, because some browsers display this text. If you have more than one feed on a page, create a separate link tag for each feed, giving each one a different title.

For an Atom feed, the type should be “application/atom+xml”.

Explaining Just What RSS Is

Let’s face it – not everyone knows what RSS is yet. Unless your clientele is very geeky, you need to explain it to them. Most sites don’t, but some do.

When explaining RSS, keep your explanation simple and appropriate for your audience. You don’t really need to explain the technology, just what it means for them and how they can subscribe. If you want, recommend some RSS readers to make the process painless or refer them to a browser-based reader.

Helpful text next to the RSS button can say something like “Subscribe to My RSS Feed on Widget Technology.” Here are just a few phrases that you could use:

  • Get regular updates about widget technology
  • Keep informed about widget technology
  • Don’t miss the latest news about widget technology!

More people are finding out about RSS every day, so even if they don’t sign up right away, they may the next time they visit. Having an RSS feed shows that you’re “with it.” The implication is that if you are up to date enough to have a feed, you’re similarly up to date in your field – and that’s what your visitors want.

So evangelize a little, strut your stuff, and brag about being on the RSS bandwagon.

Telling Others All about Your Feed

To market your Web site, you do more than just register it and hope that people come. You probably proactively tell people about your site in many ways. Web-site marketing is a huge field.

Some common ways to market a Web site also apply to marketing your RSS feed. These methods are:

  • Cross-link with other sites: Ask sites that link to you to add a phrase about your RSS feed. Using the phrase “RSS news feed available” may be enough.
  • Send out press releases: Because RSS is new, you can send out press releases about your news feed. That’s right; the feed is news in itself.

Tip: When marketing your website or RSS feed, be sure to avoid the most common Internet Marketing Mistakes

RSS feed links in your e-mail signature

A signature is text that automatically appears at the bottom of every e-mail you send. Almost all e-mail programs let you create a signature. You can often add links to this text. Your Web-site URL should be there. Why not a link to your RSS feed as well? Think of it as an RSS button in every e-mail!

Writing articles for other sites

A great way to get links to your site is to write articles for newsletters and sites that cover your field. The way others pay you is to link to your site. You probably don’t want to substitute a link to your RSS feed for the link to your site (but then again, you may). However, other sites can also give you a byline. You can mention your RSS feed in the byline or perhaps even in your article.

Telling everyone you know

“Hey! Guess what? I have an RSS feed! Pass it on.” Wherever you go – conferences, business meetings, and so on – or whomever you talk to – friends, colleagues, and customers; let them know about your new RSS feed. They’ll probably say, “What’s an RSS feed?” and you can tell them all about it. It’s a great way to break the ice at a party.

Tip: Why not put the URL for your feed on your business card, stationery, or brochure?

Keeping Your E-mail Newsletter

If you have a successful e-mail newsletter, I don’t recommend giving it up. E-mail is still the way that most people get their news. But you should definitely mention your RSS feed in your newsletter as an alternative way to get the same information, with a link to your site’s explanation about RSS.

You can – and should – update your RSS feed when you update your Web site. If your newsletter is monthly, for example, and covers updates on your site throughout the previous month, people who subscribe to your RSS feed receive the news before your newsletter subscribers. You can plug this advantage to your readers. One of the major advantages of RSS is to notify your readers of changes as soon as they happen. By comparison, an e-mail newsletter is old news by the time you get it published.

Branding Your Feed

You probably hired a Web designer to make your Web site look beautiful, if you’re not a designer yourself. You carefully use your logo on your site, your letterhead, your PowerPoint presentations, and all your publicity materials. Why not brand your RSS feed as well?

You can probably think of more ways to publicize your feed. Remember that publicizing your feed also publicizes your website and your business. If you know of any more please feel free to comment or leave your feedback.

Author:  Andy MacDonald, CEO of Swift Media UK, a website design & search marketing company. For daily tips on Blogging, Marketing, SEO & Making Money Online, Checkout our SEO & Marketing Tips for Webmasters blog or Subscribe by RSS.