Small Business Websites
RSS Do's and Don'ts
Written by Charles Mburugu for Gaebler Ventures
RSS is not a very common word, but technologically savvy individuals are making use of RSS feeds at a fast rate. If you would like to get on board but are not quite sure where to begin, there are some RSS feed tips that you can sue to maximize feed compatibility and ensure your feed stands out from the crowd.
By applying good feed habits, you can enjoy the benefits of an RSS feed. Following these easy RSS do's and don'ts will direct you towards RSS success.
Titles and Descriptions
Always include useful keywords in the Channel title and description of your RSS feed. Most readers will search for or view topic specific RSS feeds using keyword phrases or keywords. If your RSS feed's description and title has descriptive keywords, the feed is very likely to be found and subscribed to by relevant parties.
Always include a GUID in every feed item. Basically, the GUID is an identifier which is globally unique. Each post should have a different GUID. In some cases, the GUID will help RSS aggregation software and news readers in establishing when existing RSS feed content has been modified or when new content is added to the RSS feed. If you don't use GUID's, aggregation software may have problems detecting new content or changes to feed items.
Always have a publish date on feed items. The date should be included even when the content is timeless. A publish date will enable readers establish the status of the content in the feed item.
Polish your feed
Consider having images within your RSS feed. Though the added images might not improve your ranking, they will make your RSS feed look more polished and help in branding your feed.
You could host your own feed, or alternatively set it up so it forwards from your website to a third party. You won't have to rely on another company's stability. If you are in control of the forwarding and at any point are not happy with service provided by a third party, you could redirect the feed to a different location.
Do not plagiarize your RSS feed's content. Written content is usually protected in most countries. Posting another's work and taking credit for it is not right and will destroy your reputation as a trusted source.
Don't automate feed creation to create splogs. Splogs only clutter directories and search engines and make it hard to find RSS feeds with useful content.
Don't violate copyrights through republishing contents of an RSS feed. If you quote another RSS feed's contents, credit the source and include a link to the content's original source. As a general rule, editorial content in the post must be longer than the quoted material.
Offer many feed formats
For the subscriber, the RSS version you are using is not important. Many versions of the same feed only causes confusion. Most RSS news aggregators and readers support all RSS versions. Simply select a version and offer a single feed.
Charles Mburugu writes for us from his home in Nairobi. He has a graduate degree in Business Management from Kenya Institute of Management. He is interested in writing about branding, CSR and intellectual property.
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