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11 Practical Uses for RSS in Business

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/23/2006 | Web Design
Are you wondering what you can use RSS for right now? Here are some practical examples of RSS at work.

Use Your Own Content

Almost ANY web based content can be transformed into an RSS feed. The only real requirement is that the information changes regularly.

News Headlines

Typically, the main use of RSS is to present headlines and a short introduction to "newsy" stories. Create an RSS feed on your site featuring your company press releases, site updates, etc.

Upcoming Events

RSS is a great way to let people know of events and activities that may be happening soon. It's easy to turn an "events" page into an RSS feed.

Thoughts/Commentary

You've probably heard of the term "blog" or "weblog". It's a page that displays (in chronological order) a series of writings on whatever the author wants to write about. While a normal blog also allows others to add their comments to yours, you don't have to offer that functionality.

Set up a page where you regularly add your thoughts on all sorts of issues - or just one issue - with the most recent post at the top of the page. Include these items in an RSS feed, and you've got a whole new audience for your pearls of wisdom.

Articles

Share your knowledge. This is a more "formal" type of writing, where you write a series of articles on a specific topic. Add a new article on that topic every week or so. Set up several topics and you've got several new RSS feeds to attract even more interest in what you know.

Don't forget to include a resource box in the article which allows others to reproduce your article on their site, with an obvious link back to you.

New Products

Got an online store with new inventory added regularly? Add details about your newly added items to an RSS feed to let people know what's just come in.

Weekly/Monthly Specials

Do you regularly make special offers on different products in your inventory? Again, RSS is a great way to tell people what's on special this week... or this month.

Newsletters

If you regularly produce an email newsletter, then consider converting it to RSS format as well as continuing to email it. After all, your newsletters ARE also shown on your web site... aren't they?

New Links

If you have a links directory, considering creating an RSS feed of the new links added to your directory in the last week or so. If you have a category structure within that directory, with links added often, you can create a feed for each category.

New Members

Do you run a public membership site? Recently joined members could be listed in an RSS feed with links direct to their profiles. What a great way to welcome new members!

Ticker RSS Feeds

Do you have timely information, e.g. important stock figures, to communicate to your customers? Automate the process with software and RSS can feed new critical information on an hourly basis (or more frequently if needed).

Note: Aim to have up to 15-20 items in each feed if possible. You can have more items if you want. Just remember that most feed reading software will NOT display all the items. Many may only show the first 5 or 10.

Once you've got your feed going... remember to submit your feed URLs to the various RSS Feed Directories.

Using Content From OTHER Web Sites

If a site offers an RSS feed for people to subscribe to, you can possibly use that feed on your site. Just check the terms and conditions on the site FIRST to see if you can reproduce the feed. If in doubt - send an email or phone them to ask permission.

What you are aiming for is to build many extra pages of useful content on topics of value to your visitors. Don't worry that the links in the feed take people off site (make that happen in a new window). The content is what is needed for search engines and people to devour!