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Search Engine Optimization for RSS Feeds
By S. Housley

Tips for Helping Your RSS Feed Perform!
In some ways RSS is very similar to HTML, the language
commonly used to create websites. Just as with HTML,
webmasters using traditional search engine optimization
tactics when creating an RSS feed will find that their RSS
feed receives additional exposure and interest. 

Simple steps to optimize an RSS feed for search engines:

1.) The title should contain important search terms.
To state the obvious, the title should be relevant and not
misleading, while still emphasizing keywords. Ultimately,
the title should entice the reader to read on, not mislead
them.

2.) Display RSS feeds.
Most webmasters display their feeds as content on their
website. When displaying a feed be sure to use PHP, ASP or
HTML so that search engines will spider the contents of the
feed displayed. If using a template to display feeds, use
header tags to define the appearance of the Channel Title
and Item Titles. Many search engines weight header tags with
more importance. See Displaying RSS Feeds for additional
information -


http://www.small-business-software.net/display-rss.htm

3.) Internal & external Links.
Within a feed you should always use the full path of any
links, keeping in mind that other sites may syndicate the
contents of the RSS feed. Links that are not local to the
site should launch a new browser. While this is not specific
to search engines it will help keep visitors on your site.

4.) Link text should emphasize keywords.
It is no longer a deep, dark secret that the text used for
incoming links will help a site contextually define the
keywords that the site appears for in the search engines.
Keeping that in mind, be sure to use keywords in any link
text that points back to your website. 

5.) My.Yahoo and My.MSN.
This is surprisingly simple to do but often overlooked by
publishers and webmasters. The fastest way to have an RSS
feed spidered by Yahoo or MSN is to include the feed on a
personal my.yahoo or my.msn home page. Simply create an
account on the respective search engines and customize the
home page to include your RSS feed. This is done by adding
content and listing the URL to the RSS feed. Typically,
within 24-48 hours the feed's contents will be spidered and
indexed by Yahoo and MSN. 

6.) Theme feeds.
Feeds should be themed. This will help with themed links
back to a publisher's website from anyone syndicating the
feed's content.

7. ) Link popularity.
Increase link popularity by submitting the RSS feed, blog or
podcast to the appropriate directories. The following
directories allow submissions of specific kinds of RSS
feeds. Be sure to follow the guidelines of each site and
choose categories wisely.

Submit Podcasts -
http://www.podcasting-tools.com/submit-podcasts.htm


Submit RSS feeds -
http://www.rss-specifications.com/rss-submission.htm


Submit Blogs -
http://www.blog-connection.com/submit-blogs.htm


8.) RSS 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 the reader can easily discern if the contents are
something that is important to them.

9.) Subscribe to feeds.
This might seem obvious, but a surprisingly large number of
publishers do not subscribe to their own feed. This is a
great way to visualize what your customers see, and
experiment with formatting and integrating HTML into feeds.
 
10.) Image ads.
Add your corporate logo to your RSS feed. Create a brand and
enforce that brand by including the image in the RSS feed.
The image will enhance your corporate identity and dress up
the look of your feed by adding your corporate logo.

11.) Alphabetical rank.
Many feed readers list feeds alphabetically in the reader.
Feed channels that begin with A will naturally appear in the
top of the feed list in most feed readers. If you wish to
appear in the top of list of feeds that a reader has
subscribed to, keep this tip in mind.

12.) Meaningful Links
Each item in your feed should contain a unique URL
associated with it. This will direct users to associated
information. Many find using target URLs with the "#" symbol
in the link to identify specific content useful.

Most marketers have a love-hate relationship with search
engines. Search engines have the abilitiy to make even the
most confident webmaster feel powerless . Let’s face it -
all of us have felt the wrath of the search engine
powers-that-be at one time or another, and while it may be
difficult to know what line was crossed or how we fell out
of favor, following some basic guidelines will be helpful in
optimizing feeds for search engines. 


About the Author:
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 NotePage http://www.notepage.net a
wireless text messaging software company.