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Entireweb Newsletter   •   August 1, 2006   •   ISSUE #253
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Convert RSS Feeds to Dynamic HTML Web Pages

Many webmasters have realized the benefit of using RSS to dynamically update websites. This means that the website content automatically changes when the RSS feed is updated. This allows for webmasters to serve dynamic content or a mixture of static and dynamic content on their website.

Syndication

Often, publishers, interested in expanding their base, will allow other webmasters to republish the contents of an RSS feed. Content providers that allow for syndication, receive additional exposure, and the webmasters serving the content, will generally see web traffic increase as a result of the new content. RSS feeds can be syndicated or displayed using a variety of different methods. Depending on the web host, server configuration, and the intent of the publishers, a variety of different syndication tools exist.

In most cases, providers convert RSS feeds to HTML in order to display the feeds contents. The following are some of the more popular methods to convert RSS feeds as web based content.


Hosted Services

The easiest of solution is not server dependent, a third party host displays the contents of the feed. The downside to using a hosted service is that you are relying on a third party. If the third party's website has problems, your content will not be displayed. Additionally, webmasters often cannot customize the way the contents are displayed on hosted servers and there is no real search engine benefit to third party hosting.

Examples: FeedBurner.com - http://www.feedburner.com and RSS2HTML - http://www.rss2html.com.

Scripts

Using scripts to display RSS feeds on a website is probably the most effective solution. In addition, the webmaster using ASP or PHP scripts to convert their feeds, maintain the control of the "look and feel" of the content displayed. Webmasters also realize the benefit of hosting the feed on a domain that is within the webmasters control.

Using ASP or PHP will allow search engines to spider the actual contents of the RSS feed as if it is part of the actual HTML. Pay particular attention to solutions that cache the RSS feed. If your RSS feed is popular this will save significant bandwidth.

PHP

PHP is a popular scripting language that is often used to dynamically update web pages. PHP support is available on most web servers that run on a Unix Operating System.

Example: rss2html.php - http://www.feedforall.com/free-php-script.htm

ASP

ASP or active server pages is a scripting language similar to PHP but support is more often found on Windows web servers.

Example: rss2html.asp - http://www.bytescout.com/how_to_display_rss_using_asp.html

Javascript

Javascript is easy to use, and many sites will produce the code that needs to be inserted into the HTML web page, making implementation very easy for webmasters. The downside to the majority of the javascript solutions is that the webpage calls the script each time, and the actual contents of the feed is not able to be spidered or indexed by search engines. So while javascript is easy to use, there is very little benefit to the webmaster. Search engines will not detect any new content or keywords contained in the contents of the feed, so their is little optimization benefit to displaying RSS feeds using javascript. Additionally, while it is unusual, occasionally website visitors will have the javascript turned off in their browser, if that is the case they will be unable to view the contents of the feed.

Example: FeedRoll Pro - http://www.feedrollpro.com

Advanced Scripts/Merging Scripts

Webmasters will often find value in merging multiple RSS feeds in to a single feed. This is particularly useful when attempting to aggregate news on a specific topic. The script allows you to produce an RSS feed by taking the latest items from multiple feeds.

Example: RSSmesh - http://www.feedforall.com/rssmesh.htm.

Filtering/Newsmastering

Due to the enormous and ever-increasing information flow we are all submitted to, the only way to improve our ability to access and use the information that is really important to us, must take place by scaling up one notch our ability to filter, aggregate, and access relevant content.

Example: Newsmaster kit - http://www.masternewmedia.org/reports/newsmasterstoolkit/


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Prepublish Scripts

On occasion, webmasters will choose to build a large amount of content, and gradually release it over time. FutureRSS is a PHP script that when used properly will only display feed items that publish dates have passed.

FutureRSS - http://www.feedforall.com/future-rss.htm

A number of flexible solutions exists for webmasters to create, filter, and display content contained in an RSS feed. Using these simple solutions, webmasters can dynamically maintain webpages with unique content.


About the Author: About the Author: Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net a wireless text messaging software company.



 
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