RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, but what exactly is an RSS feed, and how does help you get more visibility and expand your reach? You don't need to know a lot of techy language to be a podcaster, but it's always good to have a thorough understanding of the basics!
In this blog, we'll break down everything you need to know about RSS feeds and how you can optimize your feed to get more listens!
How does an RSS feed work?
In simple terms, an RSS feed is like a newsletter for your blog posts, audio files, or videos. When someone subscribes to the feed, they'll receive new content automatically. As soon as you publish something on your site, those subscribers will get an update.
An RSS feed delivers updated information to users in a standardized, computer-readable format. Without an RSS feed URL, you would have no (efficient) way of getting your content into the ears of listeners. It’s the key connection between you and your audience.
When someone subscribes to a podcast (through apps like Apple Podcasts, Overcast, or Stitcher), they are connecting your feed to their preferred listening app. Every time you release new content, the RSS feed will automatically send out an update with information about the latest episode.
- Enable listeners to subscribe to a podcast and get automatic updates when new episodes are released.
- Allow content to be organized into an easy-to-read format, including a title, description, and link.
- Update in real-time to reflect new episodes as soon as they're published so listeners can stay up to date on your content.
Types of RSS feeds
RSS feeds aren't just for podcasts! There are many different types of feeds for both written and audio media. In fact, you are probably subscribed to other RSS feeds right now and may not know it.
For instance, if you’ve ever subscribed to a thread on Reddit or Quora or to an email newsletter, you subscribed to an RSS feed, so you were automatically kept up to date with the latest content.
Some people like using RSS feed tools like Feedly so they can follow all their top RSS feeds and access them in one organized place without checking a bunch of individual websites. And that’s the appeal and convenience of RSS feeds: they let you tailor your web experience and get only the content you want.
In short, no matter what type of content you’re creating, an RSS feed is the best way to ensure that your audience is getting all of your latest updates automatically. Whether it’s news, sports scores, a blog, or a podcast you can’t get enough of, subscribing to an RSS feed is a great way to stay informed about the topics you care about most.
How to create an RSS Feed
Using a podcast host is by far the easiest and most popular method of making an RSS feed. Podcast hosts provide you with all the tools necessary to quickly and easily build an RSS feed, saving you time and energy.
With a podcast host (like Buzzsprout or Libsyn), you don't need to worry about coding or setting up your own server - it's all taken care of for you. All you need to do is upload your media files and write up descriptions of each episode - the rest is handled by the host.
From there, listeners can subscribe to your show by clicking the “Subscribe” button or downloading or streaming specific episodes. Listeners can also subscribe to your podcast feed via the RSS icon on your website.
Once you submit your feed link to a podcast directory like Apple Podcasts, all you have to do is upload your content to your podcast host, and the updated content will automatically populate the podcast apps that have your feed URL.
Note: It is possible to create an RSS feed without a podcast host. However, creating one from scratch can be complicated and time-consuming and requires having knowledge of XML coding. Using a podcast host simplifies the process, as it provides an automated way of creating and managing RSS feeds.
How to use your RSS feed
Once you have an RSS feed from your podcast host, you can submit it to popular RSS reader apps such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. The more directories you submit it to, the greater your potential reach and visibility!
We suggest starting with the major directories first since the vast majority of podcasters use Apple Podcasts and Spotify to listen to content. You can also embed the RSS feed into a website or blog, giving readers easy access to your latest episodes.
For the most part, submitting your feed link to directories and optimizing metadata is the extent of working with your RSS feed directly. But let’s look at some ways you can optimize your feed for greater visibility and engagement.
RSS feed best practices: Optimization
Apple has RSS feed requirements before they accept a podcast feed. The good news is most podcast hosting services take care of this for you, so there’s not much you need to do.
Thankfully, RSS feeds are quite low maintenance. But, there are some ways to further optimize the metadata in your feed that could help you show up in search results more and get more listens.
- Submit your podcast to as many directories as possible so it is more visible and easier to find.
- Ensure that all the tags in the RSS feed are correctly filled out with accurate information, such as episode title, summary, cover art, etc.
- Update the feed regularly with fresh content to keep listeners engaged and interested.
- Use descriptive keywords for each episode to help improve discoverability within search engines, directories, and podcast apps.
Resource: Check out Apple Podcast's feed requirements if you host your own podcast.
A podcast RSS feed is the bridge between your content and subscribers, delivering up-to-date content to them automatically so they don’t have to search for new episodes manually. By following the best practices we outlined, you can help ensure your podcast is seen by more people and gets the attention it deserves!