RSS Syndication Made Easy!

Understanding RSS and How to Use it?

Suppose you are going to publish a new Web page about your school or you would like to publish a monthly electronic newsletter or maybe publish a weekly news podcast. Fresh content always improves your school's web site — giving students, parents or other visitors a reason to return to the site on a regular basis. Also, an additional benefit is that search engines reward heavily visited sites with higher search ranking, but how can you get all this new content in front of all of the returning and new visitors? An RSS feed may be your answer.

RSS is a standard open format file for syndicating all types of content, including web pages, audio podcast and video podcast. You create news feeds that can include headlines, links and article summaries from your Web content. By listing these in your RSS file, you can have the page appear in front of any person who reads information using RSS readers, news aggregators or podcatchers (see Aggregators & Podcatchers). Once visitors have subscribed to your feed, any new material you syndicate will automatically undated to their feed reader.

Creating RSS Feed Files

Creating a RSS file is easy. Any simple word processor such as Notepad, WordPad or TextEdit can be used. Alpha X is a great free Mac word processor for coding. Care should be taken if using Microsoft Word. Disable the auto save and manually save the file as text only.

I use Adobe Dreamweaver. If you use Dreamweaver or similar applications, however, be careful that it does not delete tags it feels are redundant. To be an RSS file, your file needs the minimum tags to be valid.


For ease of understanding and ease of coding, let's begin with the "item." All RSS feeds must have at least one item. It is the heart of the RSS file. The item contains all the information that is needed to be syndicated. Each item must has a title, description, link, and a guid.

We'll use this page as the example. The title of this would be written as:

<title>RSS Syndication Made Easy</title>

Add the description. This will be short for instructional purposed, your description should be a paragraph in length.

<description>This is an easy to follow, step-by-step tutorial on RSS syndication.</description>

The link is an absolute URL for the page which will be syndicated.


The guid has the same property as the link. Many tutorials do not include this as a necessary element, however, Feed Validator will not validate a feed without a guid. Therefore, I will include it as necessary to the item.


In addition to those required elements, the following list of inclusions can be used within the item tag.

I have starred the additions which I would suggest you use once you are more familiar with creating RSS feeds.

Now place these bits of information together within item tags and this a finished item. One item should be created for each syndicate. As many as fifteen can be placed in one RSS document.

<title>RSS Syndication Made Easy</title>
<description>This is an easy to understand, step-by-step tutorial on RSS syndication.</description>

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A channel contains one or more items and additional information about the site. The three required elements are title, link and description. If these sound familiar, it is the same information needed for the item but it is for the Web site.

The title should be that same as your web site or blog.

<title>Multimedia Resource center</title>

The link is an absolute URL for the Web site or Blog used for your RSS feed.


Now write a phrase or sentence or two describing the over all site.

<description>The Multimedia Resource Center brings together educational materials, information, tutorials and links for those persons who have an interest in the creative and scholarly uses of emerging multimedia technologies. </description>

As with items, there are a number of inclusions that can be added to the channel tag. the optional elements are:

I have starred the additions which I would suggest you use once you are more familiar with creating RSS feeds.

Completed Feed

Now let's add the minimum item elements to the minimum channel elements, place it within channel tags, add RSS tags and a XML declaration and create a complete feed.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title>Multimedia Resource center</title>
<description>The Multimedia Resource Center brings together educational materials, information, tutorials and links for those persons who have an interest in the creative and scholarly uses of emerging multimedia technologies. </description>
<title>RSS Syndication Made Easy</title>
<description>This is an easy to understand, step-by-step tutorial on RSS syndication.

Save the file as feed.xml and prepare for validation. For each new page you would like to add create a new item>

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Validating the RSS File

Once you have created your RSS file, upload it to your Webspace. It is time to see if the file correct. To find out, we need to validate it. Use Feed Validator to test if it is correct. This validator is very easy to use, just enter the URL of your RSS file and click validate—it will either tell you everything is OK or it will report any errors. All errors must be corrected and revalidated before Feed Readers or search engines will accept and use it.

Wytheville Community College News Center is another validator with an added free service that will generate a JavaScript feed that will offer your headlines to other sites.


Now is your feed has been validated, it's time to share it with your visitors. To make this happen you need to connect the RSS file to your site. You may use any one of these three ways.

The RSS file is usually connected to the index or home page of the Web site. The simplest way is with a ordinary HTML link, but this doesn't visually alert the visitor that you material is on an RSS feed. Use the small orange XML icon [xml gif] or the blue RSS icon [rss png] as buttons and link them to the RSS file (if you would like you may download the icons form this site and use them).

A relative link will also connect the feed document to your home page. Place this in the head section of the HTML document.

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml"
title="Multimedia Resource Center - RSS" href="http://www.mmresourcecenter.org/feed.xml"/>

The third way to connect the RSS file to your site is by means of a JavaScript such as one that is generated by the Wytheville Community College News Center.

I often add a meta tag so that search engines will know that my site has an RSS elements. It doesn't connect the RSS file to the site but it will improve the rating of the site with the search engines. This could appear as:

<meta name="description" content="RSS is a method of distributing links or syndicating content in your web site that you'd like others to use. It can be an easy way to draw attention to your material, bringing you some traffic and perhaps a little net fame, depending on how good your information is." />

Submitting Your URL

As soon as you syndicate your material, it is viewable by Web sites that display headlines. There are also personal soft wares which read and record any new RSS material. Although submission is not necessary, it can add rapidly to the number of visitors using your site. You can speed this process by submitting of your URL to RSS repositories. The list below offers some of the best places to go. I personally use Educational Feeds and RSS Network.

Educational Feeds
Visit http://www.educational-feeds.com and click on the Submit link. Click on the Submit link. Fill in the form then click on the submit button.
Visit http://www.moreover.com and click on the About Us link. Then click on Contact from the Left navigation. Click on the contact form link in the become a source section. Alternatively just go to the submission form. Ideally you should go the long way to the form and read all about what Moreover do.
News Knowledge
Visit http://www.newsknowledge.com and click on the Content Network link. Click on the Recommend news source link. Fill in the form then click on the send recommendation button.
RSS Network
Visit http://www.rss-network.com/submitrss.php and enter your URL. Select a category form the pull down. Add a subcategory. Click on the "Submit" button. This form will submit your content to numerous repositories.
Visit http://www.syndic8.com and click on the Suggest link. Click on the news.XML icon. Enter the url to your RSS file. Remember to make a note of your Feed ID.
Visit http://aggregator.userland.com - click on join - Validate your RSS file then submit. Keep a note of your Channel ID Number.
Visit http://publisher.yahoo.com/rssguide - click "Submit Your RSS Feed" button - Enter your URL in the box. Click the "Add" button.
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RSS Feed Software


Other Tutorials

RSS Feed Submissions


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