RSS Feeds and SEO

A hot topic for any website owner is that of SEO (search engine optimization) which is all about the ability of a site to rank highly for particular search terms in search engine results. If you don’t rank well in search, you may well be limiting your traffic considerably. Many efforts are made therefore to improve sites traffic by improving search visibility. One of the ways this is achieved is to increase the amount of content at the site so that the number of keywords found by search engines is maximized. In addition, search engines generally display the most recent content that meets their criteria wherever possible.
RSS feed contents in themselves will not enable much better ranking as their content is not unique; however, the increase in traffic that is generated as a result of your site being the place to go for information will help considerably. The more time a user spends at your site, the higher it will rank too. Google keeps a track of all these metrics and uses them to keep track of your site and how much it appeals to the people who go there.
Since Google changed its search engine completely in Sep 2013 (The “Hummingbird” update), there has been a big shift in many websites in terms of ranking in their search results. More attention has been paid to duplicated and low value content. However, the content of an RSS feed is not accessed by a search engine crawler – all they will see is the XML code that created the RSS feed, and the HTML of our widget code (our FeedWind code) – the content will be detected as being syndicated which is not a bad thing as long as that is not the only content on the page. Notably links in RSS feeds have ‘nofollow’ instructions attached as default.

Does adding RSS to my site improve search ranking?

Adding RSS feeds can help a site ranking, but in a less direct way than the unique content available on your pages. Obviously if you are directing multiple feeds to your page, it is not practical or useful to take all the links and rewrite the content on your own pages.
If you add RSS feeds that have been aggregated or customized, they will contain a flow of keywords that you will not necessarily rank for, but if related semantically (by meaning) to other words and phrases on your site, they will be seen as relevant. Additionally, the freshness of information is also a measure of how well your pages will rank. Having an RSS feed on the page means you are getting information from somewhere and that information will usually be a blog, news, search results or product review or something that is updated regularly rather than static content.
Google do not discuss exactly how they treat RSS feeds coming into your site but Matt Cutts (the Google Search Chief Engineer) did explain that RSS feeds need to contain recent information.  There is an interesting blog article on the subject of how does Google index RSS / Atom feeds at the the Google Webmasters Blog.
What is important to note is tha the SEO value is directed to the source of the RSS feed – in other words, if you publish RSS on your site, the site that delivers the RSS feed to your widget etc gets the SEO value and faster indexing than otherwise they might. This does also mean that publishing a widget containing an RSS feed from your blog onto your homepage is a good way to get fast and thorough indexing of pages by Google. 

Check your RSS feed contains recent information

This is something easy to check by simply putting the feed URL into the FeedWind setup screen and looking at the preview. By default, the feed will show news items and their date of publication. If you see that your feed contains too many old items, try a different feed or find alternatives where possible. If the old entries in an RSS feed you are using are all related to a particular topic you can do without, you can use Yahoo Pipes or a similar feed aggregator/filter system to weed out the stuff you don’t want to appear in your RSS widget feed. If you are covering a broad topic you might want to either include several feeds in separate containers to allow you to display multiple feeds on a page/site, or use the RSS feed aggregator to add together feeds from different places and display them combined in a single RSS feed widget.
Whatever your aims are for your RSS feeds, they provide audiences with better navigation and up to date information and the website owner some SEO value. There is certainly no punishment for having RSS feeds on a page (which in theory duplicates content from elsewhere) Google encourages good content to be shared like this as it improves the user experience and accessibility of information online.
Go ahead and grab your feed widget from FeedWind – its simple, adds value to your pages and only takes a moment to set up!

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