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20 January 2010

So you've built a killer website, filled it with wonderful content, developed your portfolio and have designed a fantastic blog to bombard a plethora of potential visitors with status updates and news of your latest ventures...

But there's a problem: for whatever reason, you've decided not to use a complete CMS for your website and blog. You may have decided to use Blogger's free service, for example, or prefer the minimalist approach of Twitter for micro-blogging bliss.

Of course, you could link to your blog (or Twitter) RSS feed and promote this through innumerable eye-catching banners, links and screaming fuchsia pink headlines, but what about that useful orange icon to the right of your browser's address bar?

For many of us, it's the first point of call when checking for subscription links!

Here's what I did

Since Google's Blogger platform is my blogging poison of choice, I decided to host my portfolio and blog on separate subdomains. Which led me to this problem of promoting my blog feeds in conjunction with my HTML-based site.

To ensure visitors to my portfolio are easily able to subscribe to my blog (and Twitter status) feeds, I added just RSS auto-discovery links to the <head> section of all pages in my site:

Blogger automatically generates autodiscovery feeds for post and comment updates, so for this section of the site I merely added the snippets required for Twitter updates to show up too.

How to add RSS Autodiscovery to a static site

Copy, paste and edit - in just a few moments your static website or portfolio could be subtly enhanced with autodiscovery of your blog updates, Twitter status feeds or indeed any RSS/Atom-based feed from the social networking phenomenon you've developed as an avid user of the world wide web.

So open up your favorite text/html editor and start by pasting the following code somewhere between the <head> and </head> tags on each page of your side where you want the feeds to show up:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Subscribe to My Blog - RSS" href="" />

Change the title and feed URL as required, and save. Now open up your site in a web browser and look for the RSS icon in your address bar. Nice, huh?

You could add your Twitter updates feed like so:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Subscribe to - Twitter Updates" href="" />

(Simply visit your Twitter status page to find the URL for updates using Twitter's own RSS autodiscovery system!)

Or even your Feedburner syndicated content:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Subscribe to - Twitter Updates" href="" />

If you prefer to link to an Atom feed, change "application/rss+xml" to read application/atom+xml" instead. This ensures browsers detect the correct type of feed.

You can add as many of these lines as you need to - they'll show up in a list ordered by their appearance in the document you've edited. Add just a single feed or go wild and add every single RSS/Atom feed you're linked to, and ensure your readers can easily find the means to subscribe to as many of your updates as you choose.

And there we have it: a subtle yet satisfying method of providing easy RSS discovery from a static site.

Photo by Thomas Hawk, via Flickr


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