The Yellow Pages directory of Canada (YellowPages.ca) is including RSS content on their directory pages.
From a search engine standpoint the reason someone would include RSS content on their site would be to increase the amount of data showing up on a particular page. Most yellowpages and directory web sites don’t have detailed information about the business listings they are displaying, beyond basic address and contact info. For example, if the Yellow Pages web site had a listing for a chiropractor in Winnipeg, Manitoba there would not be much content on the page other than the doctor’s phone number, address, city information and postal code. The webmaster for the site (or whoever is doing the search engine optimization) will seek to find other sources of content so that more information will show up on the pages being displayed. This approach is sometimes effective in improving rankings for pages in search results.
One particular way to do this is by the use of RSS aggregation. There are numerous ways to take individual RSS feeds or even groups of RSS feeds and display them on a particular page of a web site. The interesting thing about RSS is that the original source of the feed will typically get inbound link love which will increase the likelihood that someone is going to visit the web page of the original author that published the RSS content. I put more information at the end of this post on how to create RSS mixes.
If you’re not confused yet hold on because it’s going to get a little bit more complicated. I was doing some searching online last night and I noticed an article from Planet Chiropractic was appearing on a business listing page of a Canadian Yellow Pages directory. There was a link next to the content indicating the source of the RSS the directory site was displaying. It was not Planet Chiropractic. The source listed was a web site called chiroblogs (a chiropractic blog directory). The web site is aggregating RSS content from a number of locations (with a large amount of content coming from this blog) and it is increasingly appearing in search engines for chiropracticly related queries.
ChiroBlogs contacted us at some point and asked if it was OK to include our content in their index. When it comes to RSS you may want to weigh out the risks versus the benefits of someone else displaying your content. In this case I’m assuming chiroblogs.com is getting an increased amount of traffic especially since they’re being indexed and displayed on corporate web sites such as the Yellow Pages. I could be complaining that they are getting all the glory for content I created, since some of my posts are also showing up on the website. However, one of the RSS pieces of content that was being displayed on the Yellow Pages was the blog entry I posted about a chiropractic adjusting table for sale in Los Angeles, California. In order to view the details of that post one had to click on the source at the yellow page site which then directed them to this web site and the article about the adjusting table. That article also included a link to the actual ad. To complicate things even further the advertisement itself had an RSS feed that was appearing on numerous other web sites, creating multiple other potentials for people to see the content.
One thing I can say about my experience with RSS so far is that information can now travel like wildfire. It offers up an opportunity for content to go viral and move very quickly in many different directions. For someone trying to sell an adjusting table it seems like a good thing. For someone trying to promote a video it seems like a good thing. For someone that has content that they don’t want appearing anywhere else other than their web site, it may not be such a good thing. If that’s the case you may want to put some controls on your RSS feeds if you’re going to still use them. One thing you can consider is maybe just including a few sentences of content into your RSS distribution.
If you’re seeking to learn more about RSS check out these topics…
The article linked here may seem incredibly complicated for some but it includes a link to a source for creating custom RSS feed mixes. The results of mastering a tool such as an RSS feed mixer could be extremely valuable to any webmaster. Mixing your RSS feeds