Understanding and Leveraging RSS Properly

RSSRSS stands for Really Simply Syndication.  In short, it’s a technology that allows content placed upon your website to be syndicated throughout the internet easily and in a timely fashion.  It’s been around for quite a while and serves as the foundation of a great many services such as podcasting.

Every once in a while we see or hear of a request from a person or company whose content has been echoed via this mechanism.  When we hear from people, they are usually unhappy that their content appeared on another website and claim copyright issues or infringement.  We’ve always advised our clients to promptly remove the material in question, but this leads us in an odd direction.

The fundamental purpose of supplying an RSS feed on your website is to do just that, syndicate your content.  This is completely different from the other social media “follow-me” type buttons for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Those get people to follow your accounts on those various networks while RSS sends your content to them.

This is a key point.  When you place an RSS feed on your website, your asking people to use that technology to consume your content.  As the internet grows and grows into countries that are less likely to adhere to copyright laws, you can bet your content WILL be placed upon other people’s websites.  Expect it, it will happen.

So, what can we do?  Rather than live in fear of this, we need to embrace it.  First,  most blogging technology supports an article summary or introduction type area.  Use this technique to describe the contents of the post and put a hook in to entice people to read your content. 

Second, most RSS modules have the ability to select which content from an article is send out over the feed.  Set up your RSS feed to only carry the article’s introduction and any information you WANT others to repost.

Third, market your RSS feed like mad.  The more people repost your content, the more people will visit your site to read the full article.  This is the primary goal anyway, isn’t it?