RSS is a widely used format of web feeds used for content syndication. It is amongst others used to spread news and new posts on a blog. Users subscribe to RSS feeds to follow interesting information from all around the web. RSS feeds use a standardized XML file format to publish information. Users can subscribe to the feeds with many different RSS readers like Google Reader or Bloglines but Microsoft Outlook, for example, also supports RSS feeds. They can also add feeds to their browser home page. It is a very good way to spread your information to your audience and therefore a great tool for SEO.
An RSS feed consist of a part that describes the main information of the feed, like title, website and webmaster, followed by a list of items. An item can represent a news item, a blog post, a new vacancy, an upcoming event, basically everything you want. For each item some basic information can be specified:
Feed your audience
RSS has many possible uses. But first of all it is meant for interested users to subscribe to information they’re interested in. Always keep in mind that your RSS feed is initially focused on humans (unless you make separate feeds for different purposes). Make sure you use a headline that’s focused on grabbing the users attention, do not focus to heavily on keywords. In RSS readers people will scan their headlines before making the decision to read the description of an item. Hence, your description must contain just enough information to grab the attention of your reader and make them want to read the complete article. Always try to end your description with a call-to-action.
Feed your social networks
You can use your RSS feed to feed your social networks. There are some simple tools like twitterfeed, or dlvr.it (my favorite) for publishing your latest RSS-items directly on your social media accounts. Some social networks, like Twitter, only have space for the headline and the link, so your headline is also very important for these accounts to generate traffic.
You can customize the output of your feeds for every account social media account. For example on Twitter you could start your blog post with the prefix ‘New post:’. Dlvr.it also has the possibility to include the value of the category-element of your feed item as a hash tag, making sure your tweet shows up in topical searches. It’s also possible to add multiple feeds to the same destination.
Feed other sites and platforms
You can submit your RSS feeds to RSS directories to spread your content. There are tons of RSS directories you could submit your feeds to, but a nice list to start with is provided by Toprankblog. When directories are built around different topics you could use your separate category feeds.
Besides feeds for your own purposes, RSS may also be abused by other sites to easily scrape your content. It’s good to keep this in mind when creating your RSS feed. Basically you have to make sure your feed doesn’t contain all the vital information of your items. If people get a little interested they should visit your website for the complete items.
You can also use these sites for your link building. It is possible to add simple HTML to your descriptions in your feed using XML character references or complete HTML information with the RSS Content Module. Using HTML you can add a read more link at the end of every description (optimize your link text!). The WordPress SEO plugin for example gives you the possibility to add this automatically. Now when someone scrapes your feed they also add a link to your site.
Feed the search engines
While we know search engines crawl RSS feeds, wouldn’t it be great if you could tell the search engines that there’s a new item in your feed? Well, you can. Google offers the possibility to ping their blog search every time there’s a update to your feed. However, there are some tools that ping multiple search engines at once every time your feed updates. You could use Pingomatic.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and/or Rich Site Summary. It’s a defined standard based on XML with the specific purpose of delivering information and updates of web-based content. Developers and website owners create RSS files that contain and deliver dynamic information such as headlines, product descriptions and other forms of fresh content. Web users subscribe to feeds that interest them and use RSS readers and news aggregators to supply them with the information.
It’s possible to access RSS feeds both on the web through numerous sites including My Yahoo!, Google Personalized Homepage, My MSN, or My AOL for example, or on your computer through a browser. Firefox has integrated feed support, as have Internet Explorer and Safari.
RSS feeds have established themselves as an essential component of SEO (search engine optimisation) and content provision. RSS is free and provides an easy way to promote a website, syndicating content without the need to advertise or create complicated content sharing partnerships. There are numerous ways in which RSS an be applied – for example: news alerts, sports scores, latest specials, clearance items, upcoming events, new stock arrivals, new articles, new tools and resources, search results, a book’s revision history, top 10 best sellers, forum posts, recently added downloads – the list goes on. Essentially any information that is relatively dynamic and subject to change or update has good RSS potential.
RSS feeds can be applied as a push technology that takes content out to web users who might not otherwise be aware of your website. This offers a potentially powerful aspect to your profile and link building strategy. You simply provide an RSS feed targeting the exact content you want to syndicate. If the feed is interesting and informative enough to other website owners they will integrate it into their sites.
Once you update your RSS feed, for example by adding new product information or an article, the content on your syndication partners’ websites is updated too. All the recipients of your syndication, be it two or two thousand websites, will receive the same updated version at the same time you update your RSS feed. Easy, simple, cheap and streamlined.
As a pull technology XML/RSS enables you to provide your site visitors with large amounts of targeted, relevant and dynamic content generated by third parties (in the same way that you push provide your information to others) – you simply link it in.
These days there are many sites now offering RSS feed options. You can usually identify the feed subscription option as an orange square with a broadcast motif inviting users to subscribe. At SEO Consultwe use RSS feeds to not only keep websites current, dynamic and bursting with content, but also enable site owners and web marketers to cultivate a community of subscribers dedicated to receiving their own original content. After time, your RSS feed will hopefully be generating large numbers of subscribers. Opt-in feeds delivering users a high degree of personalisation with very specific customised information, recommendations and pricing – feeds not only delivering users information but regularly enticing them to your site where they’re offered a call to action.