RSS – How It Helps Search Engine Optimization

Clive Lobo

Really Simple Syndication (AKA RSS) is powering the information we consume on-line, and it’s tremendously powerful for Search Engine Optimization.

Here is the definition from Wikipedia:

RSS is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines or podcasts. An RSS document, which is called a “feed,” “web feed,” or “channel,” contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that’s easier than checking them manually.

So why is RSS so powerful and how does it impact search engine optimization? RSS as a format in and of itself is not that helpful – but when combined with a Blog, Newsletter, Forum, Podcast or Social Media site suddenly becomes the work horse behind it all. rss-feed

The true power of RSS lies in the ability for users to aggregate content they find interesting into their favorite Feed Reader (AKA Aggregator) and read it all from there. What makes this so enticing is that users no longer have to visit all of their favorite sites just to see what’s new – they simply checkout their Feed Reader. If they see something of interest they can click on the link to to take them directly to the site which originated the content and continue reading and leave comments behind. By creating compelling content with eye catching headlines, you’ll be able to draw in more traffic to your site than you otherwise thought possible.

We use Google Reader as it’s free, web based and packed full of features. One of the most useful features is the ability to share items in an RSS Feed – which we then have up on our website. So from an SEO perspective – those users who produced content worthy of me sharing get links back to their site from ours. In addition, I am more likely to want to write about them on our blog creating an even better contextually relevant link back to their site. Did I also mention it’s fast? RSS Feeds update instantly – so you’ll have the feshest content at your finger

We covered this in an earlier posting about staying in touch with your industry – but it’s possible to produce your own custom RSS feeds of content from aggregator sites like Bloglines, or Forum aggregators. You can then place these custom RSS feeds into your Feed Reader. One word of caution in doing this though is that you may start to see some duplicate content creep in as the content is being syndicated through more than one source. However, it’s well worth it.

By leveraging the timely power and convenience of RSS you can make it really simple for people to consume and interact with your content. Making it easy for them to read, comment on and promote at no additional effort on your part beyond writing something interesting.

Finally – if you’re on a site and you’re looking for their RSS feed, there are two ways to find it. Do a full text search on the page for RSS, or look for this icon, or a derivative of it.


Clive Lobo

Spark’s resident boss man, Clive possesses the very nature of an entrepreneurial spirit.

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