Every blog uses rss syndication, which means that it publishes a feed that can be “grubbed” by everyone (human or aggregator). In simple words, the feed is your blog’s content, without the CSS and the style. Readers can read your posts without visiting your blog, by using feed readers (like Google Reader) or by visiting websites that aggregate blog content (like technorati). whether we need blog search engines like technorati is another issue, that will be discussed in another post.
Most blog platforms (like WordPress or Blogger) publish feed for your blog by default. Although the built-in solutions work fine, they do not offer many options for customising your feed. There free solutions though, that publish a feed for your blog and offer many customising options. The most used one is Feedburner. After being bought by Google, Feedburner offers all services for free. You can add your logo on your feed, add links to social sites like digg, add a creative commons license or even advertisement.
Many users prefer to read blog content via feed readers, so it is better to publish full articles to your feed and not just the excerpts. Putting your logo on your feed makes it more professional looking. Remember to double-check your posts before clicking the “publish” button, because most times feeds are being updated really fast and you do not want your post to appear to all those aggregators with mistakes or wrong images! 😉
Solutions like Feedburner, ping automatically the most common used blog indexes. Publishing a feed though, does not mean that you ping search engines too. Using xml sitemaps is the best way for doing so. Add your feed to as many blog indexes as you can (many indexes like technorati find blogs with their own crawler).
Last but not least is the way you offer your feed through your blog. Up-to-date browsers like Firefox 2, Safari 3 and IE7 show the feed icon when a site uses syndication. Putting a feed icon somewhere in your blog is a nice way though to inform readers about your feed. For compatibility with older browsers and text-only browsers (yeah there are some text-only browsers for Linux) put also a “Subscribe to my Feed” link. Using Feedburner for feed publishing will give you a feed-url like http://feeds.feedburner.com/name-you-choose, but if you have access to your server’s DNS settings, you can publish your feed via Feedburner, using a url in this form: http://yourdomain.com/feed.