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WordPress RSS Feed Optimization

RSS feeds are often underestimated for getting for reach and keep visitors. Here, I tell you how to optimize your WordPress RSS feed easily.

WordPress was originally a blog system before it transformed to a full-value CMS. So, the heart of each WordPress-based website is a blog, which should be actualized regularly, to make the website perform best. To do so, attract and keep new visitors there are many different possibilities:

  1. Rank better in Google’s search results (so called SERPs) and so get more visitors, who search activeley for your topics
  2. Be mentioned from other (WordPress-) blogs
  3. Share contents via Facebook, Twitter etc., discuss and be recommended there
  4. Reach existing and new readers via email (e.g. newsletters)
  5. Be recommended through discussions on tools like disqus or via native advertising
  6. Appear in feed readers and be recommended there

Basically, all this possibilities can ”simply“ be improved by making your contents more awesome and attractive. Where the points 1-5 are standard and not that worth to explain, many blog admins still don’t optimize their RSS feeds. So, it’s time to explain how to do that now!

What’s RSS?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a function, to subscribe to news anonymous via an extra software. This has the advantage that readers don’t have to tell their email addresses and can collect all their relevant news in so called RSS readers. So RSS feeds don’t spam s.o’s email inbox and so can be used better for news aggregation, especially for people who care professionally about your topic.

I assume that RSS feeds are stronger for B2B marketing than B2C – in B2C marketing social media and email marketing is more effective. Often, the amount of feed readers is significantly smaller than the subscribers via newsletter or social media, but on the other side their interest on your topics is higher. Either if you focus on B2C business or topics, ensure that you also offer the possibility to subscribe to your news via RSS.

RSS Feed Reader Software

In the past, the most popular RSS reader was the Google Reader. Today, it’s feedly.

In feedly, you can categorize all sources and tag each item, to keep the overview about all information. Another great feature is that you can easily export all tagged articles as PDF files in your dropbox, so you can create a knowledge database with one click. But, the more interesting feature for us is that you can see in feedly how many subscribers a page or feed has on this platform.

These statistics are only basic but a good extension for Google’s feedburner. Later more on that.

Feedly has another advantage for you as a publisher or user:

Connect feedly via IFTTT and buffer for auto postings on social media

You can also connect feedly with IFTTT and Buffer to create auto postings on “death” social media channels like Google+ or bookmarking platforms like delicious. I recommend this for you, if you don’t want to waste time to post on each online network manually, which is (not yet) important for your business, but for example important for your SEO.

So, I recommend you to set up a rule in IFTTT that e.g. feedly articles tagged with “SEO” will be auto published with a #SEO hashtag on Buffer: 

Screenshot aus IFTTT für Feedly- und Buffer-Einstellungen

Then go to buffer and connect your Google+ account with the network. After that, you set up a rule that all information posted on buffer will then be also published on Google+. That’s it!

You can do the same with feedly and other platforms like LinkedIn. But, I recommend you to think about which platform really matters. Facebook and Twitter are no go’s for me for auto publishing. If you also already have a “living” community on other channels, auto postings are forbidden.

RSS Optimization

Regularly only blog posts are inserted in your WordPress’ RSS feed. But sometimes blog posts don’t offer enough possibilites: e.g. if you want to style your contents more flexibly via the Visual Composer or another visual editor. Then you don’t have to make a detour by inserting some difficult (short-) code in your blog entry’s content: you can also add your pages to the RSS feed by activating the same called functions in the text optimization module of our SEO plugin for WordPress.

Attract more readers

The easiest way to attract more readers is to write interesting or provocative headlines for actually interesting topics.

Another possibility is not to show every feed reader all your contents. WordPress regularly offers two possibilities: show the whole content of each post in the RSS feed or just show the excerpt. The excerpt helps you to pull users, who read the news feed of your website, on your website, ’cause only there they can read more after a short introduction. That improves your user statistics and user signals. And user signals like (new) visitors, who stay long for reading on your website, are also positive rankings factors for Google SEO.

To optimize that I recommend you to do the following settings:

  • Set up the excerpt in WordPress under settings > Reading. Then limit the amount of the items, which will be shown to new feed readers on 10 or better 5 entries.
  • If you want to show the regular summary of WordPress, which is a character count limited excerpt, activate the “Summary” function. But if you want to make the description of each item from our SEO plugin being showed as the introduction, you should set “Full text”. Screenshot of WordPress Reading Settings for Blog and RSS feedsThen go to our plugin on SEO > Professional > Text Optimization and “Use [the] description as content within RSS feeds”. That’s it.Screenshot from DELUCKS SEO Text Optimization Settings

Spread the word

Additionally we recommend you to insert a RSS subscription icon or button visually in your website or blog. For that, you can either use the standard WordPress RSS link (the  URL is always Better is to seed or spread the feed with a detour over Google’s feedburner service.

Screenshot zu Statistik eines Feedburner Feeds

Feedburner is a kind of multiplier for your RSS feed and also has “simple syndication” feed statistics on board.  There you can see how your readers numbers develop in a time frame and where your visitors come from.

Screenshot aus Feedburner zum Einreichen eines RSS Feeds

For setting up feedburner you just need a Google account. Go on the feedburner link above and then insert your RSS feed URL below “Burn a feed right this instant”. Then you set up a welcome image (e.g. your logo) with exactly 144px width and – if your site focusses on local customers – add geo information with latitude and longitude of your business. This works easily if you use this service.

After that you take the feedburner link, which you receive from Google, and insert it in your WordPress blog. You can also use one of the subscription widgets, which show other visitors how many subscribers you already have, but I think it’s better and saves you loading time, if you just insert the link as a simple button.

Summary on the WordPress RSS Feed Optimization

If you know-how the RSS feed optimization for WordPress is super easy:

  1. Setting up WordPress and our SEO plugin
  2. Using feedburner for spreading the word
  3. Using feedly for easier social publishing

So, I also recommend you use feed readers by yourself. Not only for your own website but also for content aggregation.

If your website RSS feed shouldn’t be reached via the standard URL, you should check the settings of your theme and compare them with the recommended RSS settings of WordPress.