How to Use Data Feeds

By February 15, 2011Data Feeds

Data feeds are becoming an increasingly popular way to keep your website visitors up to date with changes to your site, posts on your blog, or any other sort of frequently edited information. One great example of a data feed is an RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication).

The idea is, as the name implies, really simple. When visiting your page, visitors are given the option to subscribe to your feed by clicking on the RSS icon. If they like reading your material and decide to subscribe, they will be instantly informed when you post something new. Updates are retrieved automatically by their own “Feed Reader,” with an option for manual updates.

Things to Watch For In Your Data Feed

If you want to add a post to the feed yourself, it’s important to cut out excess content so as to get your visitors directly to what they want to see without wasting time, after all this is a fast-paced world we live in.

For instance, when including a link in a post don’t link to your home page like tradition often dictates; instead provide “deep links” which lead straight to the updated content, like a new blog post. Write an interesting title for your blog post or updated item, so it doesn’t get overlooked — make your subscribers want to click!

Benefits of Data Feed Use

Re-inviting happy viewers increases page hits, improves ratings, and among other things, increases loyalty to, and recognition of, the author. You can carve out a niche for yourself this way.

Your fans will be able to follow your every word, and through their posted feedback you’ll learn what you’re doing right and wrong. Detailed comments left by loyal subscribers can also render new ideas for topics to write about in future postings.

Updating Your Data Feed

Feeds can be updated in a variety of ways. A common method is leaving it to web browsers to advertise your websites feed and to inform users of updates. For instance, Firefox has a button right in the web-address field. But why not attack on every front? Programs exist which allow feed authors to publish directly through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Many services also let you count the number of subscribers to your feed and will provide a bit of analytics information. And use services like FeedBurner.com to both promote and count your subscribers.

No matter what your motivation for updating your site, you will want people to know about it, and there’s no better way than the RSS feed – another big piece in the internet marketing puzzle.

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