What’s the most important key to the success of your blog or website? That would be traffic, traffic and more traffic. Forums, PPC marketing, videos, etc. are all used for generating traffic. Another tool that is sometimes overlooked is RSS feeds. Quality content and RSS feeds are a good way to reach out to visitors, pull them to your site and generate backlinks all at the same time.
What is RSS?
RSS, which stands for Rich Site Summary (also referred to as Really Simple Syndication), is a way for readers to follow websites and publishers to keep them updated easily. Content published on a site is automatically syndicated using RSS. Here’s an example:
- You publish an article on your blog that gets noticed. Visitors like what they see on the site and subscribe to your RSS feed.
- The next day, you publish another article, which is automatically syndicated using the RSS feed. All of your RSS subscribers are automatically notified of the fresh content, along with summarized text, date of publishing and the author’s name. They can go straight to the new content with one simple click.
An RSS document is called a channel, web feed or simply a feed. The software used to read these feeds is called an aggregator, RSS reader or feed reader. These readers can be used to read feeds directly on the internet, from your desktop or a mobile device. RSS feeds are frequently used to aggregate or syndicate online news headlines, audio clips, video uploads and blog posts.
RSS delivers content to readers
RSS is good for readers since it brings the information to them rather than the other way around. It’s also a very easy way for them to aggregate feeds from multiple sites into one place they can access anytime.
When your users decide to subscribe to your feed, it’s usually a one-step process, although it can be done one of three ways:
- Enter the feed URI, or uniform resource identifier, into the feed reader. This is the web address of the feed, almost like the URL.
- Click on the RSS feed icon located on your site.
- Click on the RSS feed icon located in their web browser, which automatically subscribes them with one click.
Popular syndicated feeds people use everyday
One of the most popular forms of syndication being used every day are your notifications from groups when you log onto your Facebook account. For example, you are a member of a group, and you subscribe to their feed, you will be notified you every time new content is posted to that group’s page.
Another popular form is your personalized My Yahoo start page. If you are a sports fan, you have yours customized to show information to keep you updated on your favorite sports teams. Yahoo will allow you to aggregate your page so that the RSS feeds of all your teams official websites can be placed on your My Yahoo Page. This same premise can be used by your users to aggregate your websites onto their My Yahoo Pages.
How RSS brings your site more traffic
RSS can be used to bring in visitors and improve a site’s rankings with Google and other search engines for the following reasons:
- Each RSS subscription creates a backlink to your site or blog. Contrary to what some people might think, backlinks still are still crucial in website rankings.
- Your RSS feed is like a news ticker that reaches out to subscribers. It provides real time updates on your content, articles, pics, audio files, embedded videos and links. This content is used to entice users into clicking, which takes them back to your site.
- Some popular social news websites, such as Digg, extract information from RSS feeds for relevant keyword searches, giving you a chance for more exposure.
Ways to use RSS to promote your site
Of course, websites and users have to pick up RSS feeds from your site for them to provide any SEO value. This requires that you to first create a feed for your site and then promote it.
Create an RSS feed
Content management software to include WordPress, (see feeds if you do not know how to find your WordPress feed), Joomla, Drupal will automatically create a feed for your site. If this feature is not included in the site building software, it can be done from scratch (explained here) or with software to create a RSS feed from any website.
Use a validator to make sure your feed is working properly.
The following all are ways to give your RSS feed maximum exposure.
Include RSS feed buttons
More than anything, it is all about getting subscribers. This starts with putting an RSS feed button on your site to remind people and make it easier for them to subscribe. Note that WordPress includes a widget that allows users to easily show their feeds, and other content management systems offer similar features. If you have a larger site, you may want to offer a few different feeds for various categories, etc. These themed feeds, containing keywords that describe what the feed is about, are best displayed on your website’s sidebar.
Another thing to do on site is add a RSS auto discovery tags in the header area. This enables feed readers that have automatic feed detection to recognize the feed without any effort from the user. The code looks like this:
<link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml”
Submitting RSS feeds
To get maximum exposure and backlinks to an RSS feed, submit it to RSS directories. People looking for feeds of interest can find your feed on these sites and having your feed featured also creates a backlink. There are several ways of doing this.
- Manual submission: There are a ton of directories. Listings of some of the top free and paid directories can be found here and here. Simply go to the different directories, find where you can submit your RSS feed, and fire away.
- Software: Not surprisingly, using software can automate the submission process considerably. Free submission software can be used. However, to really get to all the top sites, a paid version is recommended. RSS Submit is great software for this. It will do the automatic submissions for those directories that allow it (over 65 sites in one click) and speed you through manual submission for those, usually the better ones, that will not.
- Outsource: Find people who specialize in RSS directory submission at sites to include Freelancer or at affiliate marketing forums.
Regardless of the promotion methods, for any RSS feed to attract and keep readers, it needs to be updated regularly. Try to add good, fresh content to your site at least once a week.
Other promotional tricks
- Subscribe to your own feeds
- Create accounts with with my Yahoo and MSN and put your RSS feed on the home pages.
- Write enticing feed descriptions
- Choose good keywords that are descriptive of the site in the title.
- Create a page dedicated to your RSS feed on your site
- Promote and build links to the feed through social network marketing, article marketing and anything else you can think of!