RSS feeds are almost as old as the Internet but not until recently have they had any real impact outside the super technical users. Now as the mobile platform has taken off and developers are going crazy be creating thousands of apps everyday, RSS is moving to be the primary source of how information will be consumed.
What is RSS? Basically it’s a standard way to format content from a website, blog, or other source to allow the authors to aggregate and distribute their content very easily. As a reader you can subscribe to the RSS feed for a source and receive new content as it’s created. The benefit is you can centralize your subscriptions in one location for consumption without having to travel to each and every website to get new content, it’s delivered to you. Apps like FlipBoard, Google Reader, or Feedly work solely on RSS feeds, either yours or pre-configured ones. I personally subscribe to over 150 RSS feeds in a wide range of topics. Any one day I will have over 1,000 new articles and information to read. Do I read them all? No, much like reading a traditional newspaper you scan the articles to see which ones catch your eye for further reading.
I have blogged before how website design it really becoming second hand to content. Who cares what kind of template, widgets, colors your blog is anymore? Users care about content. Posts. Entries. There are some feeds I have that I regularly read where I have never visited the ‘parent’ website. I fully consume, save, share, archive through my RSS readers. There are some who are anti-RSS because of the lack of social interaction with them. That’s fine, then go to the web site and leave comments, but for most it’s all about consumption. Today there isn’t a mainstream RSS reader that does not have social sharing built into it.
As an author of a blog, like this one, you need to keep in mind not only about the content but how your users are consuming it. I write because I like to write but also because I like people reading my work. So, I need to keep in mind if my blog posts are in the mix with hundreds of other articles for a user I need to make sure I stick out in the 3 seconds I have to catch the user’s eyes.
That means catchy, hard hitting headlines, images in every post, and the best opening paragraph I can. In an RSS reader that’s what the user’s see first. Headline, image, and if you got them that far the RSS metadata will display the first few sentences of the article. If you don’t get them there, they move on. If you don’t stay fresh they unsubscribe and you disappear into the abyss.
RSS feeds are the future, the apps will become your presentation layer, not your blog. Blog hits will only come through from your posts. If you are relying on ad revenue then you already know these tips. If you are working on building an audience and getting them to spread you around, then learning about how your work is getting consumed is just as important as what you are created for consumption.
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Binary Blogger has spent 20 years in the Information Security space currently providing security solutions and evangelism to clients. From early web application programming, system administration, senior management to enterprise consulting I provide practical security analysis and solutions to help companies and individuals figure out HOW to be secure every day.