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Search Engines and RSS

Search Engines and RSS

May 17, 2005
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" content from RSS feeds is irresistible bait for search engine spiders "

RSS is the latest craze in online publishing. But what exactly is RSS?

RSS or Rich Site Syndication is a file format similar to XML, and is used by publishers to make their content available to others in a format that can be universally understood. RSS allows publishers to "syndicate" their content through the distribution of lists of hyperlinks. It has actually been around for a while, but with the advent of spam filters and online blogging, it is fast becoming the choice of ezine publishers who want to get their message across to their subscribers. However, not much attention has been given to the advantages RSS provides for search engine optimization.

Why Search Engines Love RSS
Many SEO experts believe that sites optimized around themes, or niches, where all pages correspond to a particular subject or set of keywords, rank better in the search engines. For example, if your website is designed to sell tennis rackets, your entire site content would be focused around tennis and tennis rackets. Search engines like Google seem to prefer tightly-themed pages.

But where does RSS figure in all this? RSS feeds, usually sourced from news feeds or blogs, often correspond to a particular theme or niche. By using highly targeted RSS feeds, you can enhance your site's content without having to write a single line on your own. It's like having your own content writer – writing theme-based articles for you – for free!

How Can RSS Improve My Search Engine Rankings?
There are three powerful reasons why content from RSS feeds is irresistible bait for search engine spiders:

1. RSS feeds provide instant themed content: There are several publishers of RSS feeds that are specific to a particular theme. Since the feed is highly targeted, it could contain several keywords that you want to rank highly for. Adding these keywords to your pages helps Google tag your site as one with relevant content.

2. RSS feeds provide fresh, updated content: RSS feeds from large publishers are updated at specific intervals. When the publisher adds a new article to the feed, the oldest article is dropped. These changes are immediately effected on your pages with the RSS feed as well, so you have fresh relevant content for your visitors every hour or day.

3. RSS feeds result in more frequent spidering: One thing I never anticipated would happen as a result of adding an RSS feed to my site was that the Googlebot visited my site almost daily. To the Googlebot, my page that had the RSS feed incorporated into it was as good as a page that was being updated daily, and in its judgement, was a page that was worth visiting daily.

What this means to you, is that you will have your site being indexed more frequently by the Googlebot and so any new pages that you add to your site will be picked up much faster than your competitors.

How Does This Benefit You As A Marketer?
Well, for example, let's says a top Internet marketer comes out with a new product that you review and write up a little article on and that your competitors do the same. Google generally tends to index pages at the start of the month and if you miss that update, you will probably need to wait till the next month to even see your entry in.

But, since your site has RSS feeds, it now gets indexed more frequently, so the chances of getting your page indexed quickly are much higher. This gives you an advantage over the competition, as your review will show up sooner in the search results than theirs. Imagine what an entire month's advantage could do to your affiliate sales.

Why JavaScript feeds Are Not Effective
Some sites offer JavaScript code that generates content sourced from RSS feeds for your site. These are of absolutely no value in terms of search engine rankings, as the Googlebot cannot read JavaScript and the content is not interpreted as part of your page.

What you need is code that parses the RSS feed and renders the feed as HTML content that's part of your page. This is achieved using server side scripting languages like PHP or ASP.

A good free ASP script is available from Kattanweb.

An equally good PHP script is CARP.

But, if you're looking for an easier solution, you should check out Express RSS.

So in conclusion, besides optimizing on-page and off-page factors, adding RSS feeds to your pages should be an important part of your strategy to boost your search engine rankings.


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