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RSS is rapidly becoming a "must have" for a proper search engine optimization. But what exactly is RSS?
RSS or Rich Site Syndication (or Really Simple Syndication, depending on who you ask) 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 the display of articles on third party websites, RSS newsreaders, and the like, enabling easy distribution of a website's content across the Internet. It is a form of content syndication, using distribution lists, hyperlinks and the like to generate interest in (and traffic to) your website.
RSS has existed for several years, 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, until now.
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 widgets, your entire site content would be focused around widgets.
Search engines like Google seem to prefer tightly-themed pages.
But where does RSS figure in all this?
RSS feeds, usually sourced from newsfeeds 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 frÃ«e!
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
This is perhaps the most important feature of RSS. 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. Major search engines have determined that the relevancy algorithm historically used to rank pages does not result in the most accurate results - and as such have added to the equation an algorithm based on a website's "freshness".
A simple analogy helps explain the logic behind this recent change in ranking algorithms. If you were to do a search for the keyphrase "war on terror", you would likely pull up a huge amount of articles. Let's take two articles for the purpose of simplification. Let's say both articles contain the phrase "war on terror" the same number of times, have the same number of inbound links, and all else is the same between the two articles. The only difference between the two is that one article was written a year ago and the other was written yesterday. Which one would be more likely to contain the information for which you are looking?
Well, using the relevancy algorithm, both articles appear equally relevant. However, they really aren't, because obviously the newer article is more likely to contain the information which you seek. This is why the search engines have added a freshness component to their ranking schemes - in an effort to provide the best results to their users, they should provide not only relevant articles, but "fresh" articles as well. Therefore, nowadays, the most recent article (or most recently updated website) would be listed before the less recent article (or less recently updated website), all other factors being equal.
Does this make sense? It should - and you should now be able to understand why a proper search engine optimization will include the use of fresh content such as an RSS feed, in addition to an optimization for keyphrase relevancy.
3. RSS Feeds Result in More Frequent Spidering
One thing I nevÃ«r 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 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 affÃ¯liate salÃ«s!
Some sites offer javascrÃ¯pt code that generates content sourced from RSS feeds for your site. Others will offer you an RSS feed display via the use of frames or iframes.
These are of absolutely no value in terms of search engine rankings, as the googlebot cannot read javascrÃ¯pt and has difficulty reading frame and iframe content, and as such 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 cannot be overemphasized.
This is achieved using server side scripting languages like PHP or ASP.
An excellent PHP scrÃ¯pt is CARP, which is the one that we recommend to our clients. This PHP script converts the RSS feed into HTML code that is easily readable by the major search engines.
For more information, or to implement an RSS feed into your website as part of a thorough search engine optimization, please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.
About the Author:
Matt Foster is President and CEO of ArteWorks Business Class, a company which specializes in search engine optimization and search engine friendly website design and ecommerce solutions.
Portions of this article taken from "Get Better Search Engine Rankings with RSS" by Satyajeet Hatangadi. Satyajeet Hattangadi is the CEO of Novasoft Inc, a software solutions provider, that specializes in affordable customized software solutions. Get the Fr-e-e Email Course "RSS Riches" and learn how to use RSS to get high search engine rankings and monetize your website at http://www.novasoft-inc.net/traffic-turbocharger.