HighlyStructured.com is a blog website run by Mike D'Agostino about search engine positioning, online marketing, php/MySQL, tae kwon do, and various other topics.

Increasing Search Engine Rankings with RSS Feeds

December 07, 2005

Recently the buzz online regarding increased ranking on Google and the other search engines has been the use of RSS syndication. I've seen RSS around for awhile now but with the advent of all the major search engines incorporating a "News" search, and some of them incorporating a "Blog" search, RSS syndication seems to be a way to gain a stronger presence on the search engines very quickly.

In short, RSS syndication is a way of providing your site's headlines in a compact, formatted, "packet" for RSS readers/parsers and the search engines to read. On your website you may have a "Latest News" section, or you may update your site's content somewhat regularly. Whatever the case, if you update your site with new "articles" every-so-often, it would be worth your time to investigate RSS syndication. This will allow you to get your site updates out to the masses at a much faster pace then waiting for the search engines to index your new data and move you up in the free listings rankings.

First, let's consider how you might fare without RSS syndication. Let's say you have a website, and every week you write a new article on a given subject. You update your site, and you patiently wait for visitors to hopefully come back to your site (if they've been there before and found your site worthwhile) for new content, or for new visitors to find you site, probably via Google or another search engine.

Alternatively, with RSS syndication, you can instantly tell anyone subscribing to your RSS feed that YOU HAVE AN UPDATE. Instead of waiting for visitors to come to you and "ask" if you have any updates, in essence you are alerting them that you have an update. I like to think of it as the newspaper guy throwing a newspaper against your front door alerting you of the news.

Recently I found an article (press release) on the benefits of incorporating an RSS feed into your site. I wanted to analyze some of their opinions and help give more clarification to their findings:

"RSS feeds that use your own domain name get blogroll and annotated links from other blogs and web sites, increasing link popularity"

What they are saying is that your link popularity will increase rather quickly. The more sites subscribing to your news feed, the more your link popularity will increase. Link popularity is paramount for Google and is important for the other search engines as well. Garnering incoming links from other websites is currently a major pain for most webmasters. Either you get involved in a link exchange, which I see as taking a risk since you can never be sure of the validity of the link exchange, or you manually contact relevant websites and ask if they will link to your site. Using RSS syndication and news feeds, you only need to convince a visitor once that you have valuable content and that they should subscribe to your news feed.

"RSS output on your web pages contributes to your site’s “freshness” "

Updated website content is another big factor in search engine positioning. Google and the search engines want to see that your site is fresh and being updated. The reason is that the search engines want to make sure they are providing the freshest content for THEIR users. Google could be the best search engine on the Earth, but if it returned results from websites that hadn't updated their content in years, it wouldn't be worth much. So, by incorporating RSS syndication into your website you are automatically sending a signal to Google and the search engines that you have very fresh content.

"The format of most RSS feeds provides themed content that’s easier for search engines to understand"

I cannot say for sure how Google and the search engines read RSS feeds and determine their ranking. But, I do know that RSS/XML data is categorized very nicely for the search engines to do their magic. Unlike wading through an HTML document looking for certain tags to determine keyword relevancy, RSS feeds organize the content into logical tags automatically. So, just for ease of use, the search engines probably have an easier time organizing and ranking RSS news feed data.

In short, now is the time to incorporate RSS news feeds into your site if you update content with any regularity. It is a great way to alert people and the search engines that you have fresh content and is a great way to build your search engine positioning with worthwhile updates.

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