Web syndication

Web syndication is a form of syndication in which content is made available from one website to other sites. Most commonly, websites are made available to provide either summaries or full renditions of a website's recently added content. The term may also describe other kinds of content licensing for reuse

Feed-icon
Common web feed icon

Motivation

For the subscribing sites, syndication is an effective way of adding greater depth and immediacy of information to their pages, making them more attractive to users. For the providing site, syndication increases exposure. This generates new traffic for the providing site—making syndication an easy and relatively cheap, or even free, form of advertisement.

Content syndication has become an effective strategy for link building, as search engine optimization has become an increasingly important topic among website owners and online marketers. Links embedded within the syndicated content are typically optimized around anchor terms that will point an optimized link back to the website that the content author is trying to promote. These links tell the algorithms of the search engines that the website being linked to is an authority for the keyword that is being used as the anchor text. However the recent rollout of Google Panda's algorithm may not reflect this authority in its SERP rankings based on quality scores generated by the sites linking to the authority.

The prevalence of web syndication is also of note to online marketers, since web surfers are becoming increasingly wary of providing personal information for marketing materials (such as signing up for a newsletter) and expect the ability to subscribe to a feed instead. Although the format could be anything transported over HTTP, such as HTML or JavaScript, it is more commonly XML. Web syndication formats include RSS and Atom.[1]

History

Syndication first arose in earlier media such as print, radio, and television, allowing content creators to reach a wider audience. In the case of radio, the United States Federal government proposed a syndicate in 1924 so that the country's executives could quickly and efficiently reach the entire population.[2] In the case of television, it is often said that "Syndication is where the real money is."[3] Additionally, syndication accounts for the bulk of TV programming.[4]

One predecessor of web syndication is the Meta Content Framework (MCF), developed in 1996 by Ramanathan V. Guha and others in Apple Computer's Advanced Technology Group.[5]

Today, millions of online publishers, including newspapers, commercial websites, and blogs, distribute their news headlines, product offers, and blog postings in news feeds.

As a commercial model

Conventional syndication businesses such as Reuters and Associated Press thrive on the internet by offering their content to media partners on a subscription basis,[6] using business models established in earlier media forms.

Commercial web syndication can be categorized in three ways:

  • by business models
  • by types of content
  • by methods for selecting distribution partners

Commercial web syndication involves partnerships between content producers and distribution outlets. There are different structures of partnership agreements. One such structure is licensing content, in which distribution partners pay a fee to the content creators for the right to publish the content. Another structure is ad-supported content, in which publishers share revenues derived from advertising on syndicated content with that content's producer. A third structure is free, or barter syndication, in which no currency changes hands between publishers and content producers. This requires the content producers to generate revenue from another source, such as embedded advertising or subscriptions. Alternatively, they could distribute content without remuneration. Typically, those who create and distribute content free are promotional entities, vanity publishers, or government entities.

Types of content syndicated include RSS or Atom Feeds and full content. With RSS feeds, headlines, summaries, and sometimes a modified version of the original full content is displayed on users' feed readers. With full content, the entire content—which might be text, audio, video, applications/widgets or user-generated content—appears unaltered on the publisher's site.

There are two methods for selecting distribution partners. The content creator can hand-pick syndication partners based on specific criteria, such as the size or quality of their audiences. Alternatively, the content creator can allow publisher sites or users to opt into carrying the content through an automated system. Some of these automated "content marketplace" systems involve careful screening of potential publishers by the content creator to ensure that the material does not end up in an inappropriate environment.

Just as syndication is a source of profit for TV producers and radio producers, it also functions to maximize profit for Internet content producers. As the Internet has increased in size[7] it has become increasingly difficult for content producers to aggregate a sufficiently large audience to support the creation of high-quality content. Syndication enables content creators to amortize the cost of producing content by licensing it across multiple publishers or by maximizing distribution of advertising-supported content. A potential drawback for content creators, however, is that they can lose control over the presentation of their content when they syndicate it to other parties.

Distribution partners benefit by receiving content either at a discounted price, or free. One potential drawback for publishers, however, is that because the content is duplicated at other publisher sites, they cannot have an "exclusive" on the content.

For users, the fact that syndication enables the production and maintenance of content allows them to find and consume content on the Internet. One potential drawback for them is that they may run into duplicate content, which could be an annoyance.

E-commerce

Web syndication has been used to distribute product content such as feature descriptions, images and specifications. As manufacturers are regarded as authorities and most sales are not achieved on manufacturer websites, manufacturers allow retailers or dealers to publish the information on their sites. Through syndication, manufacturers may pass relevant information to channel partners.[8] Such web syndication has been shown to increase sales.[9]

Web syndication has also been found effective as a search engine optimization technique.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ Hammersley, Ben (2005). Developing Feeds with RSS and Atom. Sebastopol: O’Reilly. ISBN 0-596-00881-3.
  2. ^ "Offers Plan to Syndicate Programs." The New York Times. 12 Oct 1924: Special Features Radio Automobiles Page 14
  3. ^ Broadcast syndication
  4. ^ Museum of Broadcast Communications Syndication
  5. ^ Lash, Alex (3 October 1997). "W3C takes first step toward RDF spec". Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2007.
  6. ^ "Internet Content Syndication: Content Creation and Distribution in an Expanding Internet Universe" (PDF). Internet Content Syndication Council. May 2008.
  7. ^ Netcraft.com "Web Server Survey."
  8. ^ Forrester Research "Must Haves for Manufacturer Web Sites"
  9. ^ Internet Retailer More product content equals more sales at eCost.com
  10. ^ How to Increase Your Search Ranking Fresh Business Thinking
Atom (Web standard)

The name Atom applies to a pair of related Web standards. The Atom Syndication Format is an XML language used for web feeds, while the Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub or APP) is a simple HTTP-based protocol for creating and updating web resources.Web feeds allow software programs to check for updates published on a website. To provide a web feed, the site owner may use specialized software (such as a content management system) that publishes a list (or "feed") of recent articles or content in a standardized, machine-readable format. The feed can then be downloaded by programs that use it, like websites that syndicate content from the feed, or by feed reader programs that allow internet users to subscribe to feeds and view their content.

A feed contains entries, which may be headlines, full-text articles, excerpts, summaries or links to content on a website along with various metadata.

The Atom format was developed as an alternative to RSS. Ben Trott, an advocate of the new format that became Atom, believed that RSS had limitations and flaws—such as lack of on-going innovation and its necessity to remain backward compatible—and that there were advantages to a fresh design.Proponents of the new format formed the IETF Atom Publishing Format and Protocol Workgroup. The Atom syndication format was published as an IETF proposed standard in RFC 4287 (December 2005), and the Atom Publishing Protocol was published as RFC 5023 (October 2007).

Channel Definition Format

Channel Definition Format (CDF) was an XML file format formerly used in conjunction with Microsoft's Active Channel, Active Desktop and Smart Offline Favorites technologies. The format was designed to "offer frequently updated collections of information, or channels, from any web server for automatic delivery to compatible receiver programs." Active Channel allowed users to subscribe to channels and have scheduled updates delivered to their desktop. Smart Offline Favorites, like channels, enabled users to view webpages from the cache.

Data feed

Data feed is a mechanism for users to receive updated data from data sources. It is commonly used by real-time applications in point-to-point settings as well as on the World Wide Web. The latter is also called web feed. News feed is a popular form of web feed. RSS feed makes dissemination of blogs easy. Product feeds play increasingly important role in e-commerce and internet marketing, as well as news distribution, financial markets, and cybersecurity. Data feeds usually require structured data that include different labelled fields, such as "title" or "product".

FeedBurner

FeedBurner is a web feed management provider launched in 2004. It provides custom RSS feeds and management tools for bloggers, podcasters, and other web-based content publishers. Google acquired FeedBurner in 2007.

FeedBurner was founded by Dick Costolo, Eric Lunt, Steve Olechowski, and Matt Shobe. The four founders were consultants together at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). Costolo went on to serve as chief executive officer of Twitter from 2010 to 2015.

Feed URI scheme

The feed URI scheme was a suggested uniform resource identifier (URI) scheme designed to facilitate subscription to web feeds; specifically, it was intended that a news aggregator be launched whenever a hyperlink to a feed URI was clicked in a web browser.

The scheme was intended to flag a document in a syndication format such as Atom or RSS. The document would be typically served over HTTP.by open wave and sms http based html Uri as feed.

GData

GData (Google Data Protocol) provides a simple protocol for reading and writing data on the Internet, designed by Google. GData combines common XML-based syndication formats (Atom and RSS) with a feed-publishing system based on the Atom Publishing Protocol, plus some extensions for handling queries. It relies on XML or JSON as a data format.

Google provides GData client libraries for Java, JavaScript, .NET, PHP, Python, and Objective-C.

HAtom

hAtom is a draft Microformat for marking up (X)HTML, using classes and rel attributes, content on web pages that contain blog entries or similar chronological content. These can then be parsed as feeds in Atom, a web syndication standard.

hAtom is available as version 0.1, released 28 February 2006, and is used widely throughout the Web.

History of web syndication technology

Web syndication technologies were preceded by metadata standards such as the Meta Content Framework (MCF) and the Resource Description Framework (RDF), as well as by 'push' specifications such as Channel Definition Format (CDF). Early web syndication standards included Information and Content Exchange (ICE) and RSS. More recent specifications include Atom and GData.

OML

OML (Outline Markup Language) is an XML format for outlines. It was originally proposed by Ray Grieselhuber. The specification is designed to build upon the concepts found in OPML, with the goal of fixing some of its limitations.

OML has a structure similar to OPML. Its advocates claim that although it is as simple and as flexible as OPML, its extension mechanism is better than that of OPML. Instead of letting users add attributes freely, OML introduces an element (child element of ); instances of the element may be added freely.

The resulting documents are claimed to be easier to parse than equivalent OPML documents. Readers of OPML never know what attributes others may have added to standard elements; so an element the reader wants to parse may contain a mixture of known and unknown attributes. This claimed disadvantage of OPML actually applies to any XML-based format, including OML, because XML namespaces may add attributes to existing tags; however, OPML is unusual in its enthusiasm for free-form definition of new attributes. In OML, extensions are added in the form of s instead; an unknown may be discarded without harming known data elsewhere in the file. The approach taken by OML is designed to be more in keeping with the approach of other XML-based languages and with the philosophy of some standards organizations.

Despite its claimed advantages, OML has not seen wide use. Reasons for the greater popularity of OPML may include the relative newness of OML (finalized in May 2003), and non-technical political issues between members of the XML community.

Critics of OML point out OML doesn't have a mechanism to preserve whitespace. Some have also found the distinction between and unnecessary.

OPML

OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) is an XML format for outlines (defined as "a tree, where each node contains a set of named attributes with string values"). Originally developed by UserLand as a native file format for the outliner application in its Radio UserLand product, it has since been adopted for other uses, the most common being to exchange lists of web feeds between web feed aggregators.

The OPML specification defines an outline as a hierarchical, ordered list of arbitrary elements. The specification is fairly open which makes it suitable for many types of list data.

Support for OPML is available in Mozilla Thunderbird, and many other RSS reader web sites and applications can both import and export OPML files of subscriptions.

Photofeed

A photofeed is a web feed that features image enclosures. They provide an easy, standard way to reference a list of images with title, date and description.

Photofeeds are RSS enclosures of image file formats, similar to podcasts (enclosures of audio file formats).

Planet (software)

In online media, Planet is a feed aggregator application designed to collect posts from the weblogs of members of an Internet community and display them on a single page. Planet runs on a web server. It creates pages with entries from the original feeds in chronological order, most recent entries first.

Planet was written in Python and maintained by Jeff Waugh and Scott James Remnant. There are several successors: Venus, started by Sam Ruby; Pluto, started by hackNY, a second project also named Pluto, started by Gerald Bauer, and most recently Moonmoon.

Released under the Python License, Planet is free software.

Product feed

A product feed or product data feed is a file made up of a list of products and attributes of those products organized so that each product can be displayed, advertised or compared in a unique way. A product feed typically contains a product image, title, product identifier, marketing copy, and product attributes.Product feeds supply the content that is presented on many kinds of e-commerce websites such as search engines, price comparison websites, affiliate networks, and other similar aggregators of e-commerce information. Product data feeds are generated by manufacturers, online retailers and, in some cases, product information is extracted using web scraping or harvested web harvesting from the online shops website.

RSS

RSS (originally RDF Site Summary; later, two competing approaches emerged, which used the backronyms Rich Site Summary and Really Simple Syndication respectively) is a type of web feed which allows users and applications to access updates to online content in a standardized, computer-readable format. These feeds can, for example, allow a user to keep track of many different websites in a single news aggregator. The news aggregator will automatically check the RSS feed for new content, allowing the content to be automatically passed from website to website or from website to user. This passing of content is called web syndication. Websites usually use RSS feeds to publish frequently updated information, such as blog entries, news headlines, or episodes of audio and video series. RSS is also used to distribute podcasts. An RSS document (called "feed", "web feed", or "channel") includes full or summarized text, and metadata, like publishing date and author's name.

A standard XML file format ensures compatibility with many different machines/programs. RSS feeds also benefit users who want to receive timely updates from favourite websites or to aggregate data from many sites.

Subscribing to a website RSS removes the need for the user to manually check the website for new content. Instead, their browser constantly monitors the site and informs the user of any updates. The browser can also be commanded to automatically download the new data for the user.

RSS feed data is presented to users using software called a news aggregator. This aggregator can be built into a website, installed on a desktop computer, or installed on a mobile device. Users subscribe to feeds either by entering a feed's URI into the reader or by clicking on the browser's feed icon. The RSS reader checks the user's feeds regularly for new information and can automatically download it, if that function is enabled. The reader also provides a user interface.

RSS enclosure

RSS enclosures are a way of attaching multimedia content to RSS feeds by providing the URL of a file associated with an entry, such as an MP3 file to a music recommendation or a photo to a diary entry. Unlike e-mail attachments, enclosures are merely hyperlinks to files. The actual file data is not embedded into the feed (unless a data URL is used). Support and implementation among aggregators varies: if the software understands the specified file format, it may automatically download and display the content, otherwise provide a link to it or silently ignore it.

The addition of enclosures to RSS, as first implemented by Dave Winer in late 2000 [1], was an important prerequisite for the emergence of podcasting, perhaps the most common use of the feature as of 2012. In podcasts and related technologies enclosures are not merely attachments to entries, but provide the main content of a feed.

RSS tracking

RSS tracking is a methodology for tracking RSS feeds.

Vlog

A video blog or video log, usually shortened to vlog , is a form of blog for which the medium is video, and is a form of web television. Vlog entries often combine embedded video (or a video link) with supporting text, images, and other metadata. Entries can be recorded in one take or cut into multiple parts. Vlog category is popular on the video-sharing platform YouTube.

Video logs (vlogs) also often take advantage of web syndication to allow for the distribution of video over the Internet using either the RSS or Atom syndication formats, for automatic aggregation and playback on mobile devices and personal computers (see video podcast).

Web Slice

Web Slice is a web feed technology introduced in Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 that allows certain portions of a web page to be subscribed to. Internet Explorer allows users to preview the subscribed Web Slices in a fly-out preview window. Web Slices are based on the hAtom Microformat.Microsoft developed the Web Slice format, and published a specification under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise. The specification is not published by any independent standards body. As of 2012, Internet Explorer 8 and 9 are the only browsers to support Web Slices natively, although Mozilla Firefox has support via an add-on called webchunks.

Web feed

On the World Wide Web, a web feed (or news feed) is a data format used for providing users with frequently updated content. Content distributors syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe a channel to it. Making a collection of web feeds accessible in one spot is known as aggregation, which is performed by a news aggregator. A web feed is also sometimes referred to as a syndicated feed.

A typical scenario of web-feed use might involve the following: a content provider publishes a feed link on its site which end users can register with an aggregator program (also called a feed reader or a news reader) running on their own machines; doing this is usually as simple as dragging the link from the web browser to the aggregator. When instructed, the aggregator asks all the servers in its feed list if they have new content; if so, the aggregator either makes a note of the new content or downloads it. One can schedule aggregators to check for new content periodically.

Web feeds exemplify pull technology, although they may appear to push content to the user.

The kinds of content delivered by a web feed are typically HTML (webpage content) or links to webpages and other kinds of digital media. Often when websites provide web feeds to notify users of content updates, they only include summaries in the web feed rather than the full content itself.

Many news websites, weblogs, schools, and podcasters operate web feeds.

Work

Web feeds have some advantages compared to receiving frequently published content via an email:

Users do not disclose their email address when subscribing to a feed and so are not increasing their exposure to threats associated with email: spam, viruses, phishing, and identity theft.

Users do not have to send an unsubscribe request to stop receiving news. They simply remove the feed from their aggregator.

The feed items are automatically sorted in that each feed URL has its own sets of entries (unlike an email box where messages must be sorted by user-defined rules and pattern matching).In its explanation "What is a web feed?", the publishing group of Nature describes two benefits of web feeds:

It makes it easier for users to keep track of our content...This is a very convenient way of staying up to date with the content of a large number of sites.

It makes it easier for other websites to link to our content. Because RSS feeds can easily be read by computers, it's also easy for webmasters to configure their sites so that the latest headlines from another site's RSS feed are embedded into their own pages, and updated automatically.

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