RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, but what exactly is an RSS feed, and how does it help you 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!
What Is An RSS Feed?
In technical terms, an RSS feed is an XML file that website publishers use to organize content. But it might be easier to think of an RSS feed as a newsletter for your blog posts, videos, or audio files, with information such as the title and description.
Unlike a social media algorithm, RSS feeds deliver the content that readers (or listeners) subscribe to, not just what it thinks they’ll enjoy.
If you’ve ever subscribed to a thread on Reddit, an email newsletter, or another podcast, you’ve already experienced the ease and convenience of RSS feeds. Just open your favorite listening app and you automatically see the latest podcast episode at the top of the list.
That’s RSS feeds in action.
Do I Need An RSS Feed?
While it is possible to record podcasts without an RSS feed URL, you will not be able to upload them to platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. As you might imagine, this will drastically hamstring your attempts to get your content to your listeners in an efficient way.
Instead, your listeners will have to take the extra step of visiting your website directly each time they want to tune in.
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.
- Allow podcasters to upload a podcast episode (complete with audio, description, and title) to multiple platforms with a single click.
- 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.
How To Create An RSS Feed For Podcasts
Don’t worry—you don’t need a degree in computer science to create a podcast RSS!
In fact, your podcast hosting platform (such as Buzzsprout or Libsyn) takes care of this process for you, which is one of the reasons why it’s the easiest and most popular method of making an RSS feed.
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. Listeners can also subscribe to your podcast feed via the RSS icon on your website.
Once you submit your RSS 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, you can submit it to popular podcast platforms, such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. (Your listeners are using a wide range of platforms already. Don’t you want to reach them all?)
We suggest starting with the major directories first, then embed the RSS feed into your website or blog, so readers have easy access to your latest episodes.
For the most part, submitting your feed link to directories 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.
Optimizing Your RSS Feed
Thankfully, RSS feeds are quite low maintenance. But, there are some ways to further optimize the metadata (i.e. the title and description) in your feed to help you show up in more search results.
- Submit your podcast to as many directories as possible. Casting a wider net makes it easier for your future fans to find you.
- Ensure that all the tags in the RSS feed are correctly filled out with accurate information, such as episode title, summary, cover art, etc. Many platforms have minimum fields, so make sure you are as thorough as possible.
- 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.
Getting more clicks on your content ultimately means more engaged listeners. Engaged listeners can ultimately help you get loyal support for your content and potentially more podcast reviews.
Resource: Check out Apple Podcast's RSS 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!