RSS, or really simple syndication, is an increasingly popular way of distributing information on the Web. And just like traditional HTML, RSS feeds can benefit from search engine optimization. Here are 12 tips to make sure your RSS feeds are optimized and are generating all the traffic you deserve.
1. Use keywords in your titles. The titles of your feeds should emphasize keywords about its content. Try to craft titles that entice the reader to read on without misleading them. Learn to Use Keywords to Drive Traffic to Your Online Store.
2. Display your feeds. Most webmasters display their feeds as content on their sites. You will need to display your feed in PHP, ASP, or HTML so search engines will spider the contents of your feed. If you are using a template to display feeds, use header tags to define the appearance of the Channel Title and Item Titles. Many search engines give more weight to header tags.
3. Render links properly. Always use the full path of any links, as other sites may syndicate the contents of the RSS feed. Links that are not local to the site should launch in a new browser window. This will help keep visitors on your site.
4. Use keywords in your link text. Text used for incoming links helps contextually define the keywords for which the site appears in search engines. Using relevant keywords in link text that points back to your site can improve your search-results ranking. How Do You Improve Your Site’s Google Page Rank?
5. Subscribe to your feeds to MyYahoo and MyMSN. This is surprisingly simple to do but often overlooked. The fastest way to have an RSS feed spidered by Yahoo or MSN is to include the feed on a personal MyYahoo or MyMSN page. Simply create accounts with each service and customize it to include your RSS feed. Typically your feed will be spidered and indexed within 48 hours.
6. Group feeds by topic. Grouping your feeds logically by topic helps users and syndicators find and distribute your content.
7. Submit your feeds to appropriate directories. The following directories allow submissions of specific kinds of RSS feeds. RSS Specifications has a comprehensive list of sites that aggregate RSS feeds. Be sure to follow the guidelines of each site and choose categories wisely.
8. Write compelling feed descriptions. RSS feed descriptions are generally summaries or introductions to other content. Often, feed creators will provide additional information on an HTML site, enticing the reader to click through for the full information if it is a topic that is of interest to them. Provide enough teaser copy that readers can easily discern if the contents are something that is important to them.
9. Subscribe to your own feeds. Unless you subscribe to your own feeds, you won’t see what your customers see — or be able to diagnose problems when they arise.
10. Include your logo. Create a brand and enforce that brand by including your logo in your RSS feeds.
11. Vie for alphabetical rank. Many feed reader applications list feeds alphabetically, so feed channels that begin with “A” will appear at or near the top of the list. If you want to appear near the top, keep this in mind when naming your feeds.
12. Use anchor links. Don’t make your readers search. Each post should have a unique URL so users can quickly find the information they are looking for. Anchor tags are a simple way to let users find, share, or bookmark any post.
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, and publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. Sharon also manages marketing for NotePage, a wireless text-messaging software company.