What Is An RSS Feed?

This is the mechanism to get your podcast listed on all the different listening apps.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is a mechanism that was created in the earliest generation of the internet – the Web 1.0 – to distribute information easily. Initially, it was used mostly for blogs, where every time a new blog is published on your website, the metadata for it – the title, the description, or the link to the actual blog post – is published in a “feed.”

From a technical perspective, a feed is an XML or a text file. Other websites could check that RSS Feed daily, weekly, or in whatever time frame they wanted. When they see a new blog, they would post some information about that blog on another website. The podcast ecosystem way back in the early 2000s decided that was a good mechanism that could be used for distributing podcasts as well.

Ever since the beginning of podcasts, RSS Feed has been a critical component of distributing podcasts. It can be done either through a podcast hosting provider or through individual websites. However, hosting a podcast on individual websites is not recommended. Imagine what 10,000 simultaneous downloads from listeners, among other things, could do to your website! It would simply be too much for it to handle.

Every podcast hosting provider creates an RSS Feed for your show. This is the mechanism to get your podcast listed on all the different listening apps.

To register a podcast, simply submit the RSS Feed of the show, which contains information on the show and every episode, that each app reads. Every app does this a little differently, displaying an inconsistency in the industry.

The app checks the RSS Feed at least once a day, sometimes more for new episodes. When it finds one, it pulls the metadata for that new episode and makes it available in their app directory.

When a user subscribes to a podcast through an app, anytime a new episode is published to that show’s RSS Feed, the app checks it and pushes it to that user’s device.

Simply put, an RSS Feed is the way all the information of a podcast is published to the podcasting world or, as we like to say, the podcasting ecosystem.