RSS is dead.
Or at least, that’s what you may think.
In an era of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other Web 2.0 giants dominating the Internet, it’s no surprise you will be tempted to do so.
However, while RSS has definitely seen better days – and it’s not likely it will ever rise back to the top – it is still somewhat alive and trudging along.
In addition, with the recent Facebook scandals over Cambridge Analytica, there are increasing calling for RSS to be revived by Tech journalists, such as by Brian Barrett from Wired who recommends users to head back to RSS if they are suffering fatigue from Twitter and Facebook overdose.
Time will tell whether RSS will see this resurgence and wider adoption.
If you have not added your website or blog to a RSS feed, now might be a good time to start doing so to reap the benefits it can bring.
Let’s start with the basics first about what RSS exactly is.
Overview for Quick Navigation
What is RSS?
In essence, RSS (Rich Site Summary or more often called Really Simple Syndication) is a type of web feed that allows users to receive updates to online content in a standardised manner, most often through the use of a news aggregator such as Feedly and Inoreader.
The news aggregator will constantly check the RSS feeds of linked websites for new content, allowing the flow of content between websites and users – this process is also usually called web syndication.
How will RSS help my website for SEO?
There are two ways in which RSS will help your website for Search Engine Optimisation.
1. RSS can help Google discover your content faster, and if it does so then it can help show your website in search results faster.
The RSS can help in crawling and indexing your site faster than your sitemap can.
Hence if your site has thousands of updates every day, your website will benefit most.
At the same time, while RSS can help Google discover your content faster, it will not give any additional boost or bonus to your content.
2. You can get more traffic by tapping on the people who use RSS
RSS essentially allows you to tap on an additional source of free traffic.
Many people around the world use RSS as a way to manage and organise the content that comes in from their favourite news outlet or website or blogger.
Using RSS will allow your content to be disseminated over the web though the various aggregators and even forums and blogs that allow external RSS Feeds, and subsequently to these readers.
The benefit for these readers is that they will be notified when their favourite websites are updated, and instead of having to visit over 10 websites to read the news, they could simply go to their feed and scroll through.
With the increased visits to your website, you can then receive a positive boost to your SEO if your content is relevant and engaging (leading to a higher average session duration and lower bounce rates).
How many people use RSS?
This is no doubt an important question for you to determine the value of using RSS, and to answer this I will look at the users/visitors of the top two RSS aggregators Feedly and Inoreader which can be considered a close approximation.
First a quick background on the two companies:
Feedly was launched in 2008 by DevHd as a web extension before eventually moving onto mobile platforms. After the closure of Google Reader in 2013, Feedly experienced a huge spike in users with an increase of 500,000 users within 48 hours.
As a later entrant to the RSS market, Inoreader was first released by Innologica in 2013 and was considered one of the main Google Reader alternatives after the service closed down.
Using data from SimilarWeb for two of the top RSS aggregators, you can see that Feedly has gotten an impressive 90.94 million visits in August alone.
While not as huge as Feedly, Inoreader’s traffic is nevertheless still significant with 19.13 million visits in August.
From the other perspective on the number of websites using RSS, you can see in the image below that there are an estimated 31,923,820 websites that includes popular sites such as 4chan, Booking.com and Buzzfeed.
I hope that this has managed to convince you to take RSS more seriously in boosting the traffic and SEO of your website.
Let me know in the comments below if you have found this useful!