RSS Feed Tips to Help Search Engine Optimization
Copyright 2006 Sharon Housley
RSS feeds are a great communication medium, and when
properly managed, web feeds can bring in significant
Internet traffic. RSS feeds should contain compelling
themed content with episodic titles that are united in
common broad theme. Use RSS feeds as an online marketing
and search engine optimization tool. Just as optimizing an
HTML web page will increase exposure, so too will an RSS
feed that is properly optimized and promoted. Use these
simple tips to improve your web feed exposure.
The channel title in your RSS feed is one of the most
important aspect. The channel title should be keyword rich
and contain information related to the general theme of the
RSS feed. In order to maximize compatibility with RSS
readers, it is best not to include any HTML in the channel
title. The channel title is a website visitors first
glimpse at the RSS feed, so its important to make an
impression and attract the interest of casual browsers.
Additionally, many of the RSS feed directories and search
engines use the information contained in the RSS feed's
channel title and description to index the feed. In order
for the feed to be properly categorized, it is important
that the information contained in these fields be relevant
to the contents contained in the feed. If included at all,
the blog, brand, or company name should be at the end not
the beginning of the RSS feed channel title.
The channel description field provides an opportunity to
expand on the broad theme of the RSS feed. The channel
description should contain related keywords and phrases,
but it should be written to capture the interest of readers
not search engine spiders. HTML can be used to decorate and
emphasize specific text in the description field. In
summation the channel description should provide a
compelling overview of the RSS feed's contents.
RSS Feed Item Titles
The item titles should be 50-75 characters with spaces. In
order to increase readability and compatibility with news
readers, the RSS feed item titles should not be encoded
with any HTML. Think of an RSS feed item title in the same
way that you would a webpage title. The RSS feed item title
is your opportunity to capture the interest of your reader.
Really an RSS feed item title is nothing more than a
headline. The most effective item titles are calls to
action that grab the readers attention. Include pertinent
keywords or keyword phrases in the items title and this
will help any individuals doing deep feed searches for
Optimize all aspects of the web feed. While the feed should
be optimized for search engines, using the same techniques
a webmaster uses on a website, the optimization should not
be at the readers expense. The content in an RSS feed is
often what leads readers to click or not click through.
Readers will judge RSS feeds on the quality of the content.
This means that grammar and punctuation do matter.
Consistent grammatical errors will reduce the writers
credibility and the number of subscribers.
Using RSS feeds, publishers have the unique opportunity to
determine the anchor text that will be used to link to
internal website pages. RSS feeds are often syndicated, and
even more often compelling feed items will often be re
posted by other publishers. With that in mind, when
including links back to a website in the item description
field, use anchor text that is a relevant keyword or
phrase. Anchor text is one factor that search engines use
in determining a website's ranking for specific keywords
Number of Feed Items
Routinely prune the old items in an RSS feeds and archive
the content contained in the feed to ensure that feeds load
quickly in RSS readers. If you are using a third party
service to host your feeds, keep in mind that FeedBurner
will truncate or not display RSS feeds that it finds to be
If you are displaying an RSS feed as an HTML web page it
makes sense to use H1 or H2 tags to display the RSS feed's
item titles. If the RSS feed is optimized, the website will
benefit from the keyword emphasis by using the header tags.
RSS Feed URLs
As with HTML web pages, the URLs contained in an RSS feed
should contain keywords if possible. Use hyphens not
underscores, to separate the keywords in the RSS feed's URL.
Add an Image
Consider adding an image to your RSS feed to enhance its
appearance in an RSS reader. The image should be no large
144x400 and it is recommended that the image be 88x31. Most
RSS readers will display the feed image above the feed
contents, this is a great way to reinforce brand and
establish brand recognition. Additionally you can add
images to the RSS feed's description field. In all cases,
it is important that the full URL to the image be
referenced, because if the feed is syndicated it will
report a broken image if its attempting to retrieve it
Some of the RSS feed directories use the feed's website
favorite icons to flag the RSS feed. The RSS feeds
containing a favorite icon stand out from others in the
directories so be sure to include a favicon in the domain's
root directory. RSS feeds are a great marketing tool, but
like web pages, they must be optimized so that you can reap
the full marketing benefits. Taking the time to implement
some basic optimization tips will steadily increase your
RSS feeds exposure.
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll
www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing,
publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon
manages marketing for NotePage www.notepage.net a
wireless text messaging software company.