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Top RSS Do's and Don'ts

RSS is not quite a household word, but technically astute individuals are adopting the use of RSS feeds at an alarming rate. If you are interested in jumping on the bandwagon, but not quite sure of where to start, consider following these simple RSS feed tips to maximize feed compatibility and make your feed stand out from the crowd.


1. Titles and Descriptions.
Always include meaningful keywords in your RSS feed's Channel title and description. Many readers will view or search for topic specific RSS feeds using keywords or keyword phrases. If you have descriptive keywords in your RSS feed's title and description the feed is more likely to be located and subscribed to by interested parties.

2. GUID Format.
Always include a GUID with each feed item. The GUID is a globally unique identifier. Each post should use a different GUID. The GUID will in some cases assist RSS news readers and aggregation software in determining when new content has been added to the RSS feed or when existing content in an RSS feed has been modified. If you do not use GUID's, the software used to aggregate the feeds may have difficulty detecting changes to feed items or the software may not always recognize new content.

3. Publish Dates.
Always include a publish date on feed items. The publish date should be used even if the content is timeless. The Publish Date will help readers determine that status of the content contained in the feed item.

4. Polish Your Feed.
Consider including images within your RSS feed. While the added images will not necessarily improve ranking, they will add a polished look to your RSS feed and help brand your feed.

5. Feed Hosting.
Either host your own feed, or set it up to forward to a third party from your website. This will allow you retain complete control over the RSS feed. You will not need to rely on the stability of another company. If you control the forwarding and at any point you are dissatisfied with the service provided by the third party, you can redirect the feed to another location.


1. Plagiarize.
Do not plagiarize content in your RSS feed, there is little more to be said. Written words are considered protected in most countries. Posting someone else's work and taking credit for their words is wrong and will damage your reputation as a credible source.

2. Splog.
Do not create splogs by automating feed creation. Splogs just clutter the search engines and directories and make it difficult to locate RSS feeds with meaningful content.

3. Violate Copyrights.
Do not violate copyrights by republishing an RSS feeds contents. If you quote content from another RSS feed, credit the source and provide and link to the original source of the content. As a rule of thumb, editorial content should exceed the length of the quoted material in the post.

4. Violate TOS.
Do not republish RSS feeds without confirming that feed syndication is allowed. The terms of use are not always apparent, so it is important that you check the terms of service on the publisher's feed subscription page prior to syndicating the contents of another publisher's RSS feed.

5. Provide Multiple Feed Formats.
Do not provide multiple feed formats for the same content. As far as the subscriber is concerned, the version of RSS that you are using is irrelevant. Multiple versions of the same feed simply cause confusion. Almost all RSS readers and news aggregators support all versions of RSS, simply choose a version and provide a single feed.

By adopting good feed practices, you can reap the benefits of having an RSS feed. Following these simple RSS do's and don'ts will get you started on the path to RSS success.

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing and publishing RSS feeds and NotePage, Inc. a wireless messaging software company.


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