RSS – A How-To Guide for Beginners

Recently I decided to explore an area with which I was unfamiliar: RSS feeds.

If you’re a WordPress user, you probably know how to follow blogs so they show up in the ‘Blogs I Follow’ feed.  I personally like this feature, but what happens if you come across a website that you can’t follow with WordPress?  Here Google steps in to save the day again, with Google Reader.  Now for a while, RSS kind of confused me, but then I figured out what it was and, more importantly, how to properly use it.  While Google doesn’t have the only RSS reader out there, Google makes RSS fairly simple to understand (like most google products).

Start by logging into your Google account if you have one (if not, you’re going to have a tough time using Google Reader).

google rss reader

Google Reader Home

Now go to Google Reader.  You’ll find a rather blank page here with no feeds or anything (funny how Google+ looks the same way).  In the left-hand menu select ‘Browse for stuff’.  Now look for a tab labelled ‘Search’ and click on it.

In the ‘Search by Keyword’ box, type in (or copy/paste) (we’ll use this blog as an example).  Hit ‘Subscribe’.  Boom, you’ve just learned how to subscribe to an RSS feed.

RSS keyword search results

RSS Keyword Search Results

Cool!  So now what?  Well, in the left-hand navigation panel there is a list of your subscriptions, under which ‘Technically Heroic’ should now appear.  Any feeds you add will show up down here as well.  To read a subscription’s feed, simply click on the name of the subscription.  To view a summary of all your feeds’ new posts, click ‘Home’ at the top of the navigation.  To unsubscribe at any time, click the little triangle next to a feed’s name and select ‘Unsubscribe’ from the list.

Google Alerts interface

Google Alerts Interface

Alright, there you have it!  A quick tutorial introducing you to RSS, which can be used to browse recent posts from your subscribed feeds, subscribed Facebook feeds, and Google Alerts.  Google products are generally easy to figure out, but if you have any questions relevant to this tutorial please feel free to ask in the comment section.  Have fun with your new knowledge of RSS feeds!


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