Traditional Syndication Services and RSS Feeds for SEO Content - dummies

Traditional Syndication Services and RSS Feeds for SEO Content

By Peter Kent

Some syndication services sell content for your website. This content is often fed to websites using RSS feeds. Content-syndication is nothing new. Much of what you read in your local newspaper isn’t written by the paper’s staff; it comes from a syndication service.

In general, this material should be better than free syndicated content. However, much of the free stuff is pretty good, too, so you may not want to pay for syndicated material until you exhaust your search for free content.

Here are a few places you can find commercial syndicated material:

Specialty syndication services provide content for particular industries. For example, Inman provides content for the real estate industry.

RSS is one of those geeky acronyms that nobody can define for certain. Some say it means really simple syndication; others believe that it means rich site summary or RDF site summary. What it stands for doesn’t really matter. All you need to know is that RSS is an important content-syndication tool.

RSS systems comprise two components:

  • An RSS feed, or a source of content of some kind

  • An RSS aggregator or news reader, or a system that drops the information from the feed into a web page

For example, all top search engines provide RSS feeds of their news headlines, at least for personal or noncommercial use. You can install an RSS aggregator on your site and point it to an RSS news feed. The page will then contain recent searches on news headlines.

The big advantage of RSS feeds is that you define the keywords you want to have sent to your site. Tell the feed that you want feeds related to rodent racing, and, naturally, content is fed back to you with the keywords rodent racing in it, along with lots of other, related keywords.

What you need, then, is an aggregator that you can install into your website. Aggregators range from fairly simple to quite complicated — and that’s assuming you have some technical abilities in the first place. (If you don’t, there’s no range; they’re all complicated!) RSS feeds can be integrated both browser side and server side. Again, you need server-side integration to make sure the search engines read the inserted content.

Also, often RSS feeds merely pass a link to material on another site, in which case you don’t benefit much. Make sure that you’re getting useful content passed to your site. (Many content-syndication companies use RSS feeds to distribute their work.)

To find RSS feeds, keep your eyes open for RSS or XML symbols and other indicators showing that an RSS feed is available — many blogs, for instance, provide RSS feeds. You can see examples of these icons in the following figure.


Check out these RSS feed sites:

You can also find RSS feeds by searching for blogs. Google has a blog-search function.

However, you must remember that just because you find an RSS feed available doesn’t mean that you can put it into your site without permission. In fact, many blog owners provide feeds so that their readers can view the blogs in a personal RSS reader; you can, for instance, subscribe to RSS feeds within Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer, and a Yahoo! or Google account.

Before you use a feed, read the feed license agreement or, if you can’t find it, contact the owner.

In contrast to the automated syndication techniques, which use JavaScript and other browser-side systems for inserting content, RSS aggregators for web pages often use server-side techniques, so the content is inserted into the web page before the search engines see it. That’s what they call in the search engine business A Good Thing. (Some also provide browser-side widgets to do the work, which isn’t so good.)

If you decide that you want to go ahead with RSS, you need an aggregator. Try searching for news aggregator or rss aggregator and either check out the following software directories or ask your favorite geek to do so for you:

If your geek has never heard of freshmeat or SourceForge, it’s just possible that he isn’t quite geeky enough.