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What is an RSS feed?
What is an RSS feed?

RSS feeds are the technical backbone of podcasts. Your podcast host will provide you with an RSS feed.

Jacob Bozarth avatar
Written by Jacob Bozarth
Updated over a week ago

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and without an RSS feed, some would argue you don't really have a podcast. Your podcast feed is a computer-friendly XML document that podcast in directories like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify use to keep a podcast in sync. When you publish a new episode, your RSS feed is updated and all the podcast directories will notice that change in the feed and show the new episode. This explains why some directories pick up new episodes more quickly than others. It all depends on how often the podcast directory chooses to check the RSS feed for new episodes.

Each item (episode) in a podcast RSS feed tells the podcast player where to find the audio for that episode. It's like a directory for the podcast with links to the URLs where the episode mp3s live on the Internet. The audio for each episode is not inside the RSS feed. As a result, RSS feeds are typically very small XML files that computers can quickly download and check for new episodes.

RSS Specification

RSS is used for other purposes, so reading the RSS 2.0 specification is helpful for understanding RSS but not sufficient for explaining how RSS is used for podcasting. To learn about the subset of the RSS spec that applies to podcasting, it's best to start with Apple Podcasts. Historically, Apple pioneered podcasting with the release of the iPod and by integrating Podcasts into iTunes in 2005. This explains why you will see so many tags that begin with itunes in an RSS feed. Google expanded the iTunes podcast spec by adding googleplay tags. To learn more about all the different XML tags that make up an RSS feed start by reading Apple's documentation and then moving on to the Google Podcast RSS docs.

Key Takeaways

Understanding RSS is interesting, but it's not important for starting a podcast. At Resonate, our goal is to give you flexible, transparent, full control over your RSS feed while making the technical details disappear into the background so you can focus on great stories.

RSS is an XML specification that is used to distribute podcast audio and keep podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify up to date with your latest episodes.

Resonate Hosting is the easiest way to create an RSS feed for your podcast.

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