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RSS Feeds 101: A Step-by-Step Guide to Distributing and Promoting Your Site s XML Feed

So you've decided to beef up your website by adding an XML feed. This is a great idea; whether you maintain a personal blog or operate an independent news site, adding an XML feed is a surefire way to keep your RSS-friendly readers in the know. Not only will they appreciate the access to constantly updated content, they'll love no longer having to check the site daily for new information -- now it comes straight to them! What's more, maintaining an XML feed makes it highly possible for you to attract readers who otherwise may have never stumbled onto your site. Everyone wins.
 
But how, exactly, do you find (and eventually keep) those readers?
 
1. Use the Community. No matter the subject area of your website, the vastness of the Internet is bound to have some sort of burgeoning community for it. Readers and writers of RSS feeds love to communicate, so get in there and communicate with them! Find like-minded sites featuring like-minded feeds and trade links; if the site-owners appreciate your content, they'll almost always share the information with others. These virtual hubs of knowledge are well worth getting to know -- word of mouth, after all, is a powerful thing. 
 
2. Keep Up the Updates. Though this seems to go without saying, frequently updating the content of your site is vital to the life of your XML feed. The purpose here is two-fold. First of all, fresh and well-written content is the best way to keep readers coming back for more; after all, an XML feed thrives on constant updates and readers expect that sort of timeliness. But secondly, and perhaps most importantly, frequently updating your content keeps your site's name near the top of the directories' list of newly updated feeds. By attempting to stay near the front page, readers will come to know you as a common player, thus increasing their interest in what you have to say. Just make sure you aren't updating simply for the sake of updating; RSS-users are capable of seeing right through that tactic and will sometimes abandon a feed for being too obnoxious in its promotional efforts. 
 
3. Remember the Reader. It's important to make your XML feed as accessible and user-friendly as possible. Say, for instance, that a reader stumbles onto your site and enjoys the content but knows nothing about RSS, how it works and how they can use it. Well, why not help them out? Create a separate page on your site that explains the function and purpose of RSS and clues readers in to some of the best aggregators; often, they'll take heed, check out the format and subscribe to your feed. And they might even share the information with some of their friends! 
 
4. Feature the Feed. It's also important to make your XML feed's presence very apparent on your site. Make sure to place the orange XML or RSS button in a place that readers will immediately see it; they can't subscribe, after all, if they don't know it's there. And get acquainted with the capabilities of different web browsers. Some, such as Firefox, will automatically detect a site's XML feed and ask users if they'd like to subscribe, a feature called Auto-Discovery All you have to do is enable it within your feed using the browser's enabling code and your XML feed will be automatically promoted for you. And after all the work you've done to boost up your visibility, isn't it worth just another second's effort to have some of the promotion accomplished for you? 
 
5. Know the Directories. One of the easiest and most efficient ways to get your XML feed noticed above the World Wide Web's white noise is to submit it to as many RSS directories as possible. These sites function for the sole purpose of listing new and newly updated feeds. Diligent readers will frequently browse for content, thirsty for the freshest information the Internet has to offer, and maintaining your presence on these directories is essential to alerting readers of your presence. Granted, this is sometimes easier said than done; hundred, if not thousands, of RSS directories exist and hundreds, if not thousands, of XML feeds fight for a presence on them. But by knowing the best directories to submit to (see the links below for just a few) and keeping abreast of any new directories that pop up, your XML feed won't go unnoticed. 


Sonia Winters writes for Andy Hagans Link Building ( http://www.andyhagans.com ), an SEO firm offering link building services.

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