Since 1999, users can get current information about changes to a website with an RSS feed. To this end, you have to subscribe to the feed. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and includes many different formats, which are uniformly structured and summarized in XML format. The competition format is called ATOM.

Areas of application

Diverse information can be bundled through RSS feeds using RSS service providers. Users have the option to always get succinct information about the latest news of their selected websites. RSS feeds usually contain only a small part of a website and a link that can be clicked if you want to read more. RSS feeds are often used by blogs and news sites that want to reach the widest possible audience. These readers will be informed about new content, without having to constantly look at the relevant pages for new content.

RSS feeds can also be used for a subscription to podcasts. Moreover, Torrent Services use RSS feeds to enable their users to download files direct.

How it works

A user must subscribe to an RSS feed to receive the information through their email program, their browser or an RSS reader. The advantage for subscribers is that they get bundled diverse information from countless websites. The advantage for RSS feed providers is being able to send information without having to worry about maintaining of addresses. Consequently, it is a time-saving way to send or receive updated information for both sides.

As part of content syndication, RSS feeds are often used to provide a website with new information without requiring the operators of the site to write the content themselves. However, this practice is often questionable in terms of search engine optimization in connection with parsing methods.


An RSS file typically contains the following components that are stored in the source code. Item refers to a post or article which is being transmitted in the data feed.

 <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
 <rss version="2.0">
     <title>RSS feed name</title>
     <link>Complete URL:</link>
     <description>Short description of the RSS feed</description>
     <language> Language (such as “en-en”)</language>
     <copyright>Author of the feed</copyright>
     <pubDate>Date and time of creation("Wed, Aug 24, 2013 12:00:39")</pubDate>
       <url>Displayed image graphic URL</url>
       <title>Graphic title</title>
       <link>Linked image URL</link>
       <title>Title of a post/article</title>
       <description>Descriptive summary of the post</description>
       <link>Hyperlink to the post/article</link>
       <author>Author with email address</author>
       <guid>ID for designation of the article</guid>
       <pubDate>Publishing date</pubDate>
     See above

RSS feeds and SEO

Due to the ease of use and simple way of generating links, RSS feeds have been used in the SEO scene a long time for link building. To this end, the RSS feed of a website is filed in an RSS directory. Each post in a feed could thus provide a backlink. But entries in RSS directories of search engines were soon interpreted as a spam measure, similar to entries in web directories, especially if the entries were happening on a massive scale. RSS feeds are therefore no longer suitable as a means of link building.

Many websites used RSS feeds to keep their domain up to date. However, these portals provide more outbound links from your website, which could be a disadvantage in terms of search engine rating. Additionally, the brief descriptions contained in the feed could contain duplicate content which can be evaluated negatively by Google & Co. Moreover, when contents are parsed, it could be considered a misuse of data and a spam risk if a website does not provide its own content. RSS feeds are therefore not really suitable to upgrade your website.

Generally, RSS feeds may be a good way to draw attention to a website or a blog. However, after the publication of the RSS feed, a webmaster will no longer have control over what websites will connect to his/her feed. Besides bad neighborhood, there is a risk that your page will be devalued because of duplicate web content.

You could offer your visitors added value through an RSS feed from another website if used in moderation and sensibly. However, the benefit should be clearly determined.