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How to Setup Web Pages with a Web Browser RSS Feed Autodiscovery LInk

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Published: Monday, January 21, 2008

RSS feeds or Really Simple Syndication feeds have become a major platform for visitors to stay connected with your website. This popularized standard of broadcast makes it easy to draw your visitors in as you make updates to your website's information when they subscribe via a reader. Readers are developed to work stand-alone, such Outlook's integrated RSS feed reader, web based readers and via common web browsers like Internet Explorer or Firefox.

With RSS becoming such a standard amongst web surfers it's important to make your RSS feed as accessible as possible. A vastly under-looked method for web publishers to distribute a feed with Autodiscovery. Autodiscovery is the method of associating your web pages with an RSS feed thus allowing the visitor's browser to alert the visitor of the feed and allow for quick subscription.

Browser Safe RSS Feed Formats

Internet Explorer and Firefox, the most readily used web browsers, support the following feed formats: Atom 1.0, RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0.

Though it is important for Web Publishers to upgrade their feeds, IE7 and Firefox also support depreciated RSS feed formatting standards: Atom 0.3, RSS 0.91 and RSS 0.92.

Associating an RSS Feed with Web Pages

Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 feature a new Feed button which is designed to light up as an indicator when a supported RSS feed is found. Autodiscovery is invoked with a link element encased in the header tags allowing visitors to easily find an RSS feed in which to subscribe.

IE 7 RSS feed Autodiscovery alert icon, RSS feed browser subscription button

Example for Web Page RSS Autodiscovery format support:

        <link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="My RSS feed title" href="http://www.mywebsite.com/myrssfeed.rss">

Example for Web Page Atom Autodiscovery format support:

        <link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" title="My RSS feed title" href="http://www.mywebsite.com/myrssfeed.xml">

With the RSS or Atom Autodiscovery link element in place the visitor's web browser address bar and/or functional bar will light up.

Note: browsers allow for multiple feeds are supported by adding multiple link elements to the head tag of your web pages.

Firefox RSS feed Autodiscovery alert icon, RSS feed browser subscription button

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