Full RSS Feeds Won’t Get You Banned

Another Google theory debunked

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Toads cause warts; new clothes on Easter bring good luck; and Google penalizes sites for having full RSS feeds. MentalFloss.com issued a "never mind" on that last superstition after Matt Cutts dropped a little science.

Pay any attention at all in this industry and you’ll find desperate Web marketers and publishers grasping at any explanation of why their site has suddenly been delisted from Google’s search rankings. As all of us know, that’s the Power of the Goog.

MentalFloss found a correlation and went with it: Friendly experts suggested their sudden demise in the search results was because of their use of full RSS feeds, which made it easier for scrapers to grab content, post it on their splogs, thus creating duplicate content, thus ending in a serious delisting penalty for MentalFloss.

The explanation was sent to RSS readers along with notice that articles appearing in the feed would only carry a headline teaser and a link, thanks to Google’s aggressive treatment of duplicate content. That’s an interesting assessment, to say the least. If scrapers can tank your site, WebProNews would have been offline long ago. Scrapers love us!

Turns out though, they missed an important email. Google’s webspam captain, Matt Cutts, whose job lately seems to involve a lot of mythbusting, commented his team had sent MentalFloss an email on July 7th explaining the penalty:

The reason that Mental Floss was gone from Google’s index was because we believed that the site had been hacked. We tried to send you an email to that effect on July 7th to let you know that because of the hacked content on Mental Floss, we were temporarily removing the site from Google.


This has nothing whatsoever to do with RSS full-text feeds. I happily use full-text feeds on my personal blog, for example, and recommend that others feel free to do the same.

Thus ends one debate and opening another about which are better: full RSS feeds or partials. Cutts joins the expert camp who preach a lot about full feeds being better for the end-user. The other side note how much full feeds reduce their traffic, ad visibility (unless an ad is slipped into the feed itself), and ability to track readers.

From this RSS reader’s perspective, I like partial feeds. I’m a headline scanner who will gladly pop open 15 tabs to read the rest of articles that grab my interest. Full feeds, with their scroll, scroll, scroll your screen, get in the way of my scanning efficiency.   


Full RSS Feeds Won’t Get You Banned
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  • http://www.mountjuliet.ie/golf/ MJ Golf

    Does this also apply to RSS Sitemaps?

    i.e. if we have a full RSS Site Map with multiple Blog tags (which an XML SiteMap generator will create) – will this also be treated in the same way in Webmaster tools on Google?

  • http://www.herbal-sexual-enhancement-products.com/hgh/provacyl/ Provacyl

    Thanks for this post. It allays some of my fears related to full rss. You made a point about browsing there. I like to read the eye catching headlines rather than browsing the full page. If I like the topic, I clik to read the rest of the article.

  • http://www.trackermo.com trackermo

    They may have sent mental floss an email on July 7th… but, in all likelihood it was filtered out by their email server’s spam filters.


  • http://www.tronline.blogspot.com/ Alastair McKenzie

    That’s what it was designed for ….RSS… "RDF Site Summary" … to be a remote index of content at a particular url. Its function changed when the Simple Syndication peeps started using the description element for content.  



  • http://www.blogcontentprovider.com Chris McElroy

    Like Allister said, RSS means summary, not full story. All my blogs and the blogs we do for clients are on summary. If someone is unwilling to click on the headline to get the rest of the story, how likely are they to click on anything else I have to offer?


    Sidenote: I’m sure glad the captcha only asked me what 1 + 1 is. If you see this comment I was able to get that one right. :)

    • http://feedoor.com Mamod

      Chris, your sidenote is very funny :) I had to stop by and tell you that, and sorry if this off the subject, we need to laugh some times :) still I’m annoyed with this Full VS Partial feed debates and 3+2 equals 5 :P

  • http://feedoor.com Guest

    This debate about Partial or Full RSS Feeds is really becoming annoying, I spent the last three days reading articles about this issue, it seems a personal issue more than ,for me I prefer partial feeds but some of my reader may prefer full feeds, so I really can’t decide.

    I’m going to find some way to satisfy all parts, those who like partial feeds and who like full feeds and add it as a new feature to my service.

  • http://www.FeedSweep.com Deb

    I agree with Allister and Chris.  RSS feeds should be displayed as title and summary.  Anything more will take away from your users experience.  Unless, your entire site is a feed and there are a few of those. 

    It is interesting to note that of the 300 web sites who have registered to use our FeedSweep widget to display feeds only 1 displays more than title and summary.

    To end the debate – base this decision on your site visitors reactions.

  • http://www.stonerscolony.com FaTe

    I spent way too much time looking into this issue and at the end of lots of testing from several domains serving on different material turned out that a full feed is not only better due to the advertising it brings but its just less hassle over all in my own opinion.

  • http://moneysurf.angelfire.com sajjad

    helpfull articl as it removes the misconception I also like partial feeds as a headline scanner these days one goes into full detail only if it is interesting.

  • http://www.angelsangelsangels.org Angel Lightfeather

    Glad to read your info, thank you  and Best wishes ! Angel

  • http://www.telefonix.co.uk/ avaya

    I’d suggest that the real winner from this story is Matt. The fact that he bothered to mail someone about his site speaks volumes about what he does and the way he goes about it.

  • http://www.tmondo.com tmondo

    My site use many RSS feeds for forum,chatbox, other stuffs etc?

    Would my site get penalized?

    Oh!I am afraid. :(

  • http://www.obazaar.com/ Obazaar – your Online marketplace

    I use full RSS feeds on my store but partials for the blogs. I think Jason is right in preferring partials feeds for blogs. I use my oscommerce fork SEOPerfectCart to submit my stores full RSS feed to GoogleBase, but only submit partial feeds for my blogs to the blog directories.  It would be nice to give someone the full story on their RSS reader but if they do not visit your site the feed wont be their very long. As far as products are concerned the description in the RSS feed may lead them to click and check it out.

  • Annie

    I have syndicated my blogs to another blog host and they appear as full text with the words: [original post by …..]

    I am wondering whether this would be considered duplicate content? It is so hard to tell what is considered DC and what is not???

  • http://www.1-pizza.com MS2

    Good topic, and explanation.

    Simple to complex works for me:
    No one reads over 5 lines of an email and probably the same for a feed. If I’m interested I’ll pursue the link.

    Do you get ‘full’ content credit from the feeds you host or just partial with search engines?

    Also curious if blockquoted content credits back to the author or to the site referencing the content? (From a search engine’s viewpoint)

  • http://www.ssrichardmontgomery.com/rss/rss.xml ron

    I agree Is far as I can tell never had any problems with search engines and rss feeds

  • http://www.bestadstoday.com/ BestAdsToday

    I don’t use RSS feeds on my site.  What I want to say is that I prefer  partial RSS feeds to full ones.  From the RSS feed headlines I only choose the ones which interests me and that saves me a lot of time. 

  • http://www.lowongankerjabanks.com/ Lowongan Kerja

    Can you help me? How can i get Full content Rss feed?
    after I add some rss feed website, it show "read more" word. So I want to change read more to complete full content.

    Du you know some software or plugin at wordpress to show full rss content?

  • http://www.cafepaylasim.net Guest


  • http://www.damnIneedAjob.com Find a Job

    I recently added a small section on my site DamnIneedAjob.com where I interpret an RSS feed and write it’s content to a table. I then display the feed from that table via an asp page. Is that an acceptable practice?


  • http://www.strikebacknow.com Charles

    You might find this link useful

  • http://www.soccerballs2football.com/ soccer balls

    I would rather use feed on my blog rather than on my website, why should we take risk of sand box.

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