Buried within U.S. Patent Application # 20050071741 (aka The Google Patent) is the following paragraph:

“Documents for which there is an increase in the rate of change might be scored higher than those documents for which there is a steady rate of change, even if that rate of change is relatively high. The amount of change may also be a factor in this scoring. For example, documents for which there is an increase in the rate of change when that amount of change is greater than some threshold might be scored higher than those documents for which there is a steady rate of change or an amount of change is less than the threshold.”

When search engine optimization experts read this, it merely confirmed something they already knew…that even well-optimized content needs to be periodically refreshed in order to maintain top search engine rankings. However, if you are an SEO working on a contract, you might not have perpetual access to a client’s website. Optimum rankings will likely not hold up if the site stays static. RSS (an acronym for “Really Simple Syndication”) feeds are an excellent way to continually freshen website content without having to make periodic content updates.

“RSS is used to provide items containing short descriptions of web content together with a link to the full version of the content.” (from Wikipedia)

Most people reading this article understand the concept behind RSS and have seen examples of feeds on different websites and blogs. Easy-to-implement RSS feeds are available for any imaginable topic and having one or more feeds on your website will certainly enhance your visitor experience. However, RSS can also enhance your search engine rankings as well.

Savvy SEO’s know that they can boost site optimization efforts by creating RSS feeds containing top search engine results for the keyword / keywords they are targeting and adding them to the client website MSN, Yahoo News, and Gigablast all offer easy to use RSS feeds of their search results. Many of the blog search engines also offer RSS feeds of their results. Before placing a search engine feed on a website, be sure to check whether use of the feed on a website is restricted in any way…some of the feeds can only be placed on “non-commercial” websites.

My experience is that placing a “keyword-targeted” feed on your webpage will greatly enhance your ability to achieve optimum keyword density for your targeted term(s). What’s more, assuming relevant content is available, a news feed is preferable to a search engine feed for SEO because news feeds are updated more frequently. Another valuable tool that I recently discovered is a service called RSSMix (http://www.rssmix.com) that can seamlessly blend together multiple feeds into one. That means if you are targeting several terms in your optimization effort, you can create one seamless feed featuring each term instead of using different feeds.

In some situations, it might be undesirable to show feeds over which you can not control the content. Fortunately, the remedy is simple. You can restrict the domain of the feed so that you are only showing results from an authoritative site (e.g. a government site). Or, you can only show results from your own site if appropriate. Restricting the domain thusly should not affect the SEO value of displaying the feed since the keyword densities should remain constant.

If you are adding RSS to your website for SEO, there is one important rule that must be followed: DON’T USE JAVASCRIPT! Javascript solutions are common and easy to implement. However, the javascript content won’t be indexed by the search engines and your page will not get SEO benefits from the feeds. ASP, PHP, and HTML alternatives for RSS are readily available.

RSS is one of the hottest phenomenons in the webmaster community today. RSS that benefits SEO is a topic that’s been very much overlooked. Implementing RSS into websites has become much easier so that even non-programmer hacks can do it with ease. RSS should be viewed as an SEO Best Practice for any website that will remain very static and should be strongly considered as a part of all SEO projects.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
June 15, 2005

Todd Mintz is the Director of Internet Marketing & Information Systems for S.R. Clarke Inc., a Real Estate Development and Residential / Commercial Construction Executive Search / Recruiting Firm headquartered in Fairfax, VA with offices nationwide. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association.

Search Engine Guide > Todd Mintz > RSS Can Feed Your SEO Efforts