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Fun Free Feed Tools for Both the Publisher and the Reader

By Tinu AbayomiPaul
Posted Saturday, September 25, 2004

As you’ve probably been reading, there are basically three problems many webmasters have with web feeds (that is, among those who are already familiar with them on a basic level).

The three concerns I hear the most are:

“How do I deal with the bandwidth hit?”
“Is there a way to include information that isn’t in the automated resource I use to populate my feed without touching any code?”
“Where can I find a cost-effective, simple way to display feeds on my site?”

Say Goodbye to Bandwidth Overages with FeedBurner

If you’re a publisher, chances are, you’re familiar with the bandwidth increase that occurs every time your audience reads the latest update to your feed that for some webmasters lead to the possibility of exceeding monthly bandwidth limitations. There’s an easy solution.

Burn your feed with FeedBurner. They’re happy to take the burden off your server. (And yes, they say, FeedBurner is one word.)

Whether you’ve just created your news feed or you have been RSS-ing for years, you can create a free account at their site. Their service will also:

* translate your feed from Atom to RSS or vice versa,
* make a browser-friendly page that explains what web feeds are to the new user,
* allow you to splice any link into your feed using some of the more popular social bookmarking services.

FeedBurner also allows you to study your demographic by giving you statistics on how many request have been made for your feed contents, down to the item if you like.

Though I offer both the burned version of my feed and the original to my audience, they love the extra information my FeedBurned link provides them.

Social Bookmarking -Share More Info with Less Hassle

Social bookmarking allows you to create a bookmark online, and share those bookmarks via RSS.

Some services even allow you to share your collection of links, as you can do with the service from ., newly acquired by LookSmart, also adds the capability of saving an old version of a page you have visited with the bookmark feature. And at Bloglines, you can get ezine subscriptions via feed by subscribing through a special address they give you.

All three of these services can be coupled with FeedBurner to splice external links - or other internal links from your own site - into the “burned” version of your feed.

Display links on your site for free with RSS Digest

You've heard about the value of displaying feeds from other sites (with permission of the publisher, of course) on your site. The theory is that the frequently updated headlines add freshness to your site, which results in more frequent visits from search engine spiders. This can lead to better rankings for the site carrying the headlines, and more backlinks for the feed publisher. Everybody wins.

For the most part, I’ve found this to be true, with a feed that frequently updates, at sites that have suitable content for both the visitor and the spiders to enjoy.

The trouble for many smaller web property owners is finding a cost-effective manner in which to employ this technique. Most free tools that do this with javascript are fine for site publishers who are using the headlines for content, but if you also want the search engine benefits, it doesn’t help as many spiders don’t register content that appears in this format.

RSS Digest will do this for you in HTML, as recently reported in Search Engine Journal.

It’s not as sophisticated a tool as CARP or RSS Equalizer, but if you want to offer your feed to an audience and they don't mind using an IFRAME or pasting PHP code into their pages, this will do the job just fine.

If you’re good at supplying tips, finding resources, or locating fresh information, after viewing some news feeds for yourself, you might find that you’re ready to take the next step and publish one. If you’re already a publisher, utilizing some of these free tools may help you build a better feed.

Either way, good luck!

About the Author
Tinu saw a 75% increase in site traffic using only promotion of her web feeds, not taking into account increased exposure in search engines. She compiled her findings into a quick, ever-evolving guide this past July that you can download from ( , in addition to the semi-daily free traffic tips you’ll find in her blog.


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