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Syndicate Your Headlines Using RSS



RSS is quickly becoming the standard choice for delivering syndicated web content. Have you ever wondered how some of the large content sites deliver their headlines? Or, have you ever wanted to display news headlines, but didn't want to display the standard "Content Provided By..." info? Or, have you ever wanted to syndicate your own content? RSS may be the answer you've been looking for.

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. It is an XML format specifically designed to share content. Netscape originally developed RSS to drive channels for their Netscape Netcenter. Formerly known as RDF, RSS was developed in 1999 and has quickly evolved into the dominant format for syndicating content. Well-known sites such as, CNET, ZDNet, CNN, Wired and many more utilize this powerful means of dynamic content delivery.

Distributing your content using RSS will involve creating one file that contains your content. This file will reside on your server to enable other web sites to display your channel. You can update your channel simply by updating your file.

Once you've created your file you can submit it to web sites like Netscape to enable other web sites to subscribe.

Creating an RSS File

Your first step will be to identify your file. To do this, place the following code at the top of your text file.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE rss PUBLIC "-//Netscape Communications//DTD RSS 0.91//EN" "http://my.netscape.com/publish/formats/rss-0.91.dtd">
<rss version="0.91">


Your next step will be to create your channel header. The "channel" tag indicates that you are beginning a new channel.

<channel>
<title>Web-Source.net Syndication</title>
<link>http://www.web-source.net</link>
<description>Web Development article syndication feeds!</description>
<language>en-us</language>


The "title" tag indicates the name of your channel. The "link" tag will contain a link to your web site. The "description" tag describes your channel and the "language" tag indicates that you're writing in US English.

In addition to displaying text, you can also display a small logo. The image should be 88 pixels wide and 31 pixels high. Displaying an image is optional. If you're not going to include an image, skip this step.

<image>
<title>Web-Source</title>
<url>http://www.web-source.net/image.gif</url>
<link>http://www.web-source.net</link>
<width>88</width>
<height>31</height>
<description>Web Design and Development</description>
</image>


Now, you're ready to create your headlines. Each new "item" tag represents a new topic. The rule of thumb is to include between five and fifteen items. You can include a description, but it isn't required.

<item>
<title>Moving Up From Classified Ads to Display Ad</title>
<link>http://www.web-source.net/biz_tips_feed.htm</link>
<description>Display ads are the standard advertising tool of print media. You can impress your carefully targeted audience with a colorful display ad that spreads across the page of your favorite magazine, trade bulletin, or newspaper.</description>
</item>

<item>
<title>Creating A Customized Marquee</title>
<link>http://www.web-source.net/web_tips_feed.htm</link>
<description>Learn how to create a customized marquee for your web site</description>
</item>


Your final step will be to close your channel by adding the following tags:

</channel>
</rss>
 


Save your new file with a .rss file extension and upload it to your server.

Your final step will be to validate your RSS. Visit either of the following sites to validate your file:
http://aggregator.userland.com/
http://www.ldodds.com/rss_validator/1.0/validator.html

If you'd rather not create your own RSS file, RSS Channel Editor is a free Web based tool that makes it easy to create and maintain RSS files. You can find the script here: http://www.webreference.com/perl/tools/

Now, you're ready to share your content. Visit the following web sites to submit your new channel and enable other web sites to display your content:

http://www.bloglines.com/
http://www.syndic8.com/
http://w.moreover.com/main_site/aboutus/sourcesubmission.html

If you'd like to display RSS content on your web site, you'll need a script to fetch the content. RSS Fetcher (http://www.mimanet.com/scripts/rss_fetcher.html) is a free script that will fetch content, format it as HTML and store it in a file on your server. The content can then be displayed on your web site.

You can locate RSS files to display on your web site at the following web addresses:

http://www.webreference.com/services/news/
http://w.moreover.com
http://www.bloglines.com/
http://www.syndic8.com/

For further information about RSS, read Jonathan Eisenzopf's tutorial entitled, "Using RSS News Feeds." http://www.webreference.com/perl/tutorial/8/

If you have content that you regularly update, give RSS a try. Providing free content is an extremely powerful method of increasing your web site traffic.


About the Author:

Shelley Lowery is the author of the acclaimed web design course, Web Design Mastery. http://www.webdesignmastery.com And, Ebook Starter - Give Your Ebooks the look and feel of a REAL book. http://www.ebookstarter.com Visit Web-Source.net to sign up for a complimentary subscription to Etips and receive a copy of the acclaimed ebook, "Killer Internet Marketing Strategies."



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