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RSS Feed Tips to Help SEO

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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.

Channel Title

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.

Channel Description

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 specific content.

Optimize RSS

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.

Anchor Text

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 and phrases.

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 too large.

Heading Tags

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 144×400 and it is recommended that the image be 88×31. 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 locally.

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.

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Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll
http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing,
publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon
manages marketing for FeedForDev http://www.feedfordev.com
an RSS component for developers.

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