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  What is RSS?
A basic tutorial introduction to RSS feeds and aggregators for non-technical

One Shop Mall.COM can now deliver the latest information on new and popular products and stores right to your desktop or your email. Whether you're looking for the latest in Electronics, Clothing, Home Products, Video Games or if you just interested in learning about the latest stores that you can buy from, simply subscribe to your favorite categories RSS FEED.

What do I need to use RSS?

In order to receive RSS feeds, you need an RSS reader installed on your system. You then subscribe to the web site from which you want to receive content, and the information will be delivered automatically to your RSS reader or just subscribe to your favorite store and have the information delivered to your email box.

What is RSS?

A basic tutorial introduction to RSS feeds and aggregators for non-technical people.

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication". It is a way to easily distribute a list of headlines, update notices, and sometimes content to a wide number of people. It is used by computer programs that organize those headlines and notices for easy reading.

What problem does RSS solve?

Most people are interested in many websites whose content changes on an unpredictable schedule. Examples of such websites are news sites, community and religious organization information pages, product information pages, medical websites, shopping sites, and weblogs. Repeatedly checking each website to see if there is any new content can be very tedious.

Email notification of changes was an early solution to this problem. Unfortunately, when you receive email notifications from multiple websites they are usually disorganized and can get overwhelming, and are often mistaken for spam.

RSS is a better way to be notified of new and changed content. Notifications of changes to multiple websites are handled easily, and the results are presented to you well organized and distinct from email.

How does RSS work?

RSS works by having the website author maintain a list of notifications on their website in a standard way. This list of notifications is called an "RSS Feed". People who are interested in finding out the latest headlines or changes can check this list. Special computer programs called "RSS aggregators" have been developed that automatically access the RSS feeds of websites you care about on your behalf and organize the results for you. (RSS feeds and aggregators are also sometimes called "RSS Channels" and "RSS Readers".)

Producing an RSS feed is very simple and hundreds of thousands of websites now provide this feature, including major news organizations like the New York Times, the BBC, and Reuters, as well as many weblogs and shopping sites.

What information does RSS provide?

RSS provides very basic information to do its notification. It is made up of a list of items presented in order from newest to oldest. Each item usually consists of a simple title describing the item along with a more complete description and a link to a web page with the actual information being described. Sometimes this description is the full information you want to read (such as the content of a weblog post) and sometimes it is just a summary. For shopping sites it includes coupons and sales.

The RSS information is placed into a single file on a website in a manner similar to normal web pages. However, the information is coded in the XML computer language for use by a program (the RSS aggregator) and not by a person like a normal web page.

RSS aggregator programs

Think of an RSS aggregator as just a web browser for RSS content. RSS aggregators automatically check a series of RSS feeds for new items on an ongoing basis, making it is possible to keep track of changes to multiple websites without needing to tediously read and re-read each of the websites yourself. They detect the additions and present them all together to you in a compact and useful manner. If the title and description of an item are of interest, the link can be used to quickly bring the related web page up for reading.

Click here   to see a screen shot of an RSS aggregator in action. The RSS feeds being monitored are the details of the most recent items in a selected RSS feed (in this case, Coupons for Under store).

There are many RSS aggregators available. Some are accessed through a browser, some are integrated into email programs, and some run as a standalone application on your personal computer.

How do I find out if a website has an RSS feed?

It is getting more and more common for websites to have RSS feeds. They usually indicate the existence of the feed on the home page or main news page with a link to "RSS", or sometimes by displaying an orange button with the letters "XML" or "RSS". RSS feeds are also often found via a "Syndicate this" link. Text "RSS" links sometimes (there are lots of variations) point to a web page explaining the nature of the RSS feeds provided and how to find them. The buttons are often linked directly to the RSS feed file itself.

Once you know the URL of an RSS feed, you can provide that address to an RSS aggregator program and have the aggregator monitor the feed for you. Many RSS aggregators come preconfigured with a list to choose from of RSS feed URLs for popular news websites.

Using RSS Feeds

With billions of web pages available throughout the internet, there’s no shortage of great information. But with such a vast amount of content, keeping up with sites you find relevant can be tough. Sure, you can bookmark your favorites and hope you remember to visit. But an even better way to keep up with changes is to use Really Simply Syndication (RSS).

RSS is simply a notification service that alerts you to changes made on a given website. With RSS, you simply need to find sites you're interested in and then add them to your feed reader or aggregator. You then just check your feed reader to see what important changes are happening.

Now that you know how simple keeping up with your favorite sites is, you might be wondering which feeds you should subscribe to. Let’s take a look at a few.

Your Competitor’s Feeds

If you’re in business to make money, and who isn’t, you will want to keep up with what your competitors are doing. By adding your direct competitors to your RSS feed, you will know the minute they make a move.

Whether they are launching a new site, releasing a new product or using a new marketing tactic, you can watch what they are doing. This helps you determine if their change will hurt your sales and how you can counteract it. It also allows you to see if it’s something you might want to implement into your business.

Industry Leader Feeds

In every industry, there are movers and shakers. These people are the important game changers, the ones everyone listens to when they speak. By adding these industry leaders and their sites to your RSS feeds, you will always know what's happening in your industry.

You’ll be on the front line when new trends happen and important changes are made. You will know when industry-sponsored conferences and training material become available. You’ll also be one of the first to know of new marketing opportunities.

Trend Watching Feeds

Speaking of trends; this is another area you may want to add to your RSS feeds. There are many websites these days that do nothing more than track the latest trends. From entertainment and lifestyle, to consumers and marketing, you can find trending information on just about any topic.

Internet Marketing Feeds

Every feed reader should have at least a couple of internet marketing RSS feeds. The world of internet marketing is constantly changing and with RSS feeds, you get relevant, up-to-date information about these changes.

RSS feeds help keep you on top of your game. When search engines change their algorithms, you’ll be the first to know. When software vulnerabilities are spotted, you can quickly take action to secure your site.

These are four types of feeds you should consider adding to your RSS reader. By staying abreast of your industry's news, your competitor's activities, upcoming trends and the most important new developments in internet marketing, you'll be well informed with very little effort.

9 Ways to Keep Track of New Marketing Opportunities

Marketing is more than just advertising your business. It is about understanding and meeting the wants and needs of your customers. Marketing consists of the whole picture from identifying their needs, creating and achieving goals that meet those needs and continuing to find new and improved ways of reaching your customers.

Back when mobile marketing and Facebook PPC ads first came to light, they were inexpensive and took very little work. Today these marketing opportunities cost more and are considerably more competitive. As new technologies come into play and customer needs change, new marketing opportunities will emerge. These opportunities allow you to make changes to your business so that it continues to grow. It also helps you keep ahead of your competitors, which is important to your business success.

So how do you stay in the know? Here are nine ways to keep track of new marketing opportunities.

1. Make a habit of reading periodicals such as Website Magazine, Visibility and Internet Marketing Magazine that discuss marketing topics.

2. Subscribe to newsletters provided by well-known marketers that are considered experts in their field. Sign up for their RSS feed and follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

3. Read trade magazines related to your niche. TradePub has an extensive list of free trade magazines in print, downloads and ebooks you can sign up for.

4. Use services such as alerts that send regular emails to your inbox with information related to keywords that you have chosen.

5. Socialize with other marketers so you have people to compare notes with. If possible, connect with others locally so you can meet up once a month to share ideas.

6. Subscribe to research and trend following websites such as MarketingSherpa.

7. Watch marketing forums for discussions on new techniques and methods of marketing. You can oftentimes find people asking if anyone has tried a new method or knows anything about it.

8. Attend conferences. Most conferences make time for attendees to mingle. Make friends with the movers and shakers in your industry. They will most likely be tracking what's new.

9. Visit booths. Many conferences will have booths set up where people can promote their services. Take the time to visit the booths and make a connection with each person. Take their business card and make a note of things you discussed or when and why you should follow up with them.

Keeping track of and understanding new marketing opportunities assists you in anticipating changes that can impact your business. Being able to act before your competition is vital to keeping your business in the forefront. While you may not want to be the first to test the water of a new marketing method, following the above suggestions will ensure you know when and how to take advantage of new marketing opportunities.

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