Update 23/01/2014: This post is now slightly out of date. Google have since retired the Google Reader. I have written a more comprehensive post about RSS in this post:
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and it basically means that when new content is added to your website, a syndication service sends out an alert to your ‘subscribers’.
Subscribers can receive your new content via a ‘Feed Reader’, or via email. Some web browsers also facilitate the receipt of RSS content.
A typical program or service to receive RSS Feeds is the Google Reader. It’s a free service. If you have a Google Account you can add the Google Reader as a service. Next time you are on a website or Blog that offers an RSS feed you can subscribe to it and all new content will be sent to the Feed Reader. A feed reading program looks quite similar to an email program in that it lists the sites that syndicate content in one column, and their content items in another. Subscribers can then read your new content without visiting your site, or they can click through to your site and read it there.
Google also offer a service called Feed Burner for Blog and website owners. When I set this service up for you, your clients can receive your feeds via an email to their email account or to their Feed Reader program or service. They choose the option that they prefer when they are subscribing. I personally enjoy the emails being sent to my email account. Not all Blogs and Websites use Feedburner – although if they don’t they are often missing the option to give their subscribers the email option rather than the content being delivered to a Feed Reading program.
It’s for this reason I really like Feedburner and encourage website owners to utilise the service. I normally set this up for my clients if they plan on adding new content to their Blog/Website. Another good option for distributing your blog content via email is through MailChimp’s RSS Newsletters.