Does RSS have any SEO benefits?
RSS feeds won't help you rank higher, but they might help Google crawl your pages faster and will improve the UX of your readers. Google also announced a new feature that uses RSS feeds to help users follow your blog easier.
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What is RSS feed?
RSS, short for Really Simple Syndication, is a way that allows users and applications to stay up to date with your website content. For example, if a user wants to stay up to date with 20 blogs, they can put them in an RSS feeder, and then they can stay up to date and read all content from a centralised place. There are many popular RSS reader websites, such as Feedly and Feeder.
It doesn't do much for users who don't use RSS for their content consumption, but for the users that do, it'd improve their UX and it increases the chance that they'd subscribe and read your content in the future.
What does Google say about it?
In a Google's webinar, John Mueller from Google reconfirmed that
There’s no direct ranking boost for the website itself.
However, Google also said that if your RSS feed is set up correctly, they'd use it to find new and updated pages faster
The RSS feed is really something we see as more of technical help to crawl and index the content a bit better. So if you have a website that is changing content fairly quickly, a news website, a blog with a lot of new content, maybe even a shop that has lots of new content, then the RSS feed really helps us stay on top of things so we can pick up on all of those new URLs and crawl them as soon as we can.
John also confirmed via Twitter that they are using RSS feeds, together with sitemaps to discover new URLs:
Furthermore, In 2021, Google announced that they are working on a new feature to follow a site directly from the browser. And you guessed it, this feature is based on RSS feeds. So if this feature becomes standardised on Chrome browsers, then yes, adding an RSS feed will help you take advantage of this feature to improve the UX.
Are there any downsides to RSS feeds?
Some people say that RSS feeds have several downsides. Mainly that it could be used for thieves to steal your content. The main counterpoint to that is that even if this was the case if a thief wanted to steal your content, they would do it with or without an RSS feed. Why make real users suffer because someone might steal your content?
Worth mentioning that they might require some time to set up, but generally, once you're done with it, it's one of those things that just works in the background without any need for maintenance.
RSS still plays a part in the user's experience on the internet - especially when considered that 37% still use feed readers daily.
Even though setting up an RSS feed for your blog doesn't have a direct impact on your SEO ranking, it could help Google crawl your pages faster and keep your userbase up to date with your content.
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