There was some discussion on one of the biggest Dutch online marketing sites as to whether RSS feeds were any good for your SEO. I gave a quite lengthy reaction to that in Dutch which I wanted to share with all of you as well.
My opinion is that the fact that feeds are showing up in the search results is a bug, and it’s completely not user friendly at all. In my opinion they do lead to duplicate content problems too, so there’s really only one thing you can do, and that’s block ’em. But I’d like to block those feeds without loosing the nice side effect of their links going into my posts.
The problem with using a
noindex tag in your feed’s
head section is that the combination
noindex,follow does not seem to be supported in that at the moment. I’ve been trying to get confirmation on that but have had no luck so far. The other problem is that you’ll have to adapt the platform that creates your RSS feeds for you for that and that might be troublesome.
Robots-X-Tag HTTP header
Google has said though, that you can use “any supported
META tag” as a value for the
X-Robots-Tag HTTP header. With that HTTP header you should be able to control whether a file can be indexed, has to have a snippet, etc. So you should also be able to add a
noindex,follow HTTP header to your feed, indicating to Google that they should just follow the links in the feed, and not index the feed itself. You could arrange that from within your server config, which would look something like this in Apache:
<Directory /feed/> Header append X-Robots-Tag "noindex,follow" </Directory>
Here’s somewhat more info on
If you’re afraid blocking indexation of your feed might cause you to loose traffic from Google Blogsearch and/or Technorati, it won’t. Google Blogsearch uses FeedFetcher, which doesn’t observe robots.txt, and neither does Technorati. They both seem to be under the impression that pinging a blog search engine is enough consent to get it indexed, while others have suggested that pinging Technorati on behalf of others might be a nice way of improving your Technorati authority.
In the end, the
X-Robots-Tag seems to be quite promising. There’s a catch though, FeedBurner does not support it yet at this moment, which makes it pretty hard for everyone, including me, serving their feed through FeedBurner.