Getting Ready for Syndication
Whether you want to syndicate text, audio, or video, an RSS feed is most often used to distribute new content as opposed to changed content. Imagine a long running television series as opposed to an individual movie. Bloggers want their visitors to know when they've written a new entry; podcasters want their latest program to be available.
As you get ready to syndicate your own site, think about what will go in the feed. Does your site have features that are regularly updated? Does it have a blog? Does it have any other sort of regular column? These kinds of dynamic, timely articles are the ideal content for an RSS feed.
How many articles do you want to include? While there is no real limit on how many items can go in a feed, adding too many items may overwhelm your readers or make it difficult for them to find what they're looking for. Anywhere from ten to 50 items is about average. You can always make your older items available on your Web site.
Another decision that you have to make is whether to include entire articles, summaries or excerpts of articles, or just the first twenty or thirty words with a link to the full page. Since aggregators style content very simply, you have to choose whether you want visitors to have easy access to all your content, even if it means less control over what it looks like, or if you want to try and tease them over to your site by only offering summaries or excerpts. (Currently, there is no way to style content in the aggregator.)
Finally, think about what kind of descriptive information you want to add. There are many meta tags that help visitors find your feed. I'll discuss these in detail further along in the chapter.