RSS feeds. Ten years into the history of podcasting and they’re still the cornerstone, if not the actual lifeblood of the medium. Want to get your podcast into places like iTunes or Stitcher? You’re gonna need a valid RSS feed. And while feed validation tools have been around since the beginning of podcasting, sometimes they return results that are complex to understand, often sending podcasters into a spiral of panicked Google searches, hoping to find remedies for what they believe to be a broken RSS feed.
I tried Podbase today for the first time. Podbase is a feed validator with a focus on podcasting. It’s also got a simple one-page design that gives you the information you need in an easy to understand format.
Podbase breaks down its results system into three sections. First, it’s the Basics section, described by Podbase as, “Basic tests, the podcasting equivalent of ‘Is the patient breathing?'” In this section, Podbase checks to see if your feed URL is correct, if your feed is actually made up of XML, and then it checks to see if your feed is truly an RSS feed. In testing my own feed, I passed the second and third requirements no problem. However, Podbase noted that, “It took about 3.3 seconds to get the feed, which is very slow in ‘internet time’. Worth looking into before it gets worse.” Ultimately, my feed still passed the test. But Podbase offered some helpful advice about the length of time it took to load my feed.
Podbase’s second section is called Sharing & SEO and it contains only one query, “Does the podcast feed have a ‘good’ URL?” which is explained as, “Here I test for problems like the use of someone else’s domain, the use of deprecated services, etc.” Podbase liked my feed in this category, saying, “Nice URL, friend! You appear to be master of your own domain.”
Podbase’s third and final section is devoted to iTunes tags. Here. Podbase checks to see that your RSS feed includes album art, it checks to see if your media host supports byte-range requests, it then checks to ensure your feed has a proper iTunes category, summary, title, author, and description tags to ensure your podcast listing is optimized for searches within iTunes. My feed also passed this section with flying colors, earning a clever, “You never meta-data you didn’t like — everything looks great!” response from Podbase.
The next time you need to submit a podcast feed to the iTunes Store, stop by Podbase first. Not only will it let you know if there are any problems in your feed, but its inclusion of the byte-range checker is especially useful, as iTunes automatically rejects feeds that contain media hosted on non-byte range servers.
Now, I have to go see what I can do to speed up my website and beat that 3.3 second benchmark!