SEO Question: Will rss feeds help my web site rankings, due to automatic updates?
SEO Answer: Some search engines may like frequently updated content, but you also want to have people link at your site or actively read the new information. Without those just adding a feed will not do much for most webmasters.
RSS in and of itself is just a tool.
Some people like to parallel RSS with email, but the key element with RSS is to realize it as a permission based subscription. People don't just mix random RSS feeds together and then subscribe to it (or at least most people do not).
They subscribe because they are genuinely interested in your topic, timeliness, personality or presentation.
The timeliness part is getting harder with meme trackers (expect many topical ones in the next year or two), everyone becoming an author, and the death of the scoop. In fact, chasing the timliness angle in competitive topics leads to the biggest downfall in the subscription model, people subscribing to me too posts - the noise they were trying to avoid. Many of the people who flocked to blogs from forums are likely getting burned out by blogs too, but much of that is topic dependant.
If an industry is hyper-saturated it is much harder to compete than if an industry has few or no legitimate voices discussing it. When I interviewed Lee Odden recently he stated that one of his niche blogs only takes a few hours of work per month and pays about $400 an hour.
Some people argue that their topic is boring and there is nothing they can write about, but typically that is just an excuse for lazy behavior. As shown in Lee's above example, being one of the few people discussing a topic equates to a larger percentage of market attention and revenue.
RSS is just another doorway to your site. It just make it easier for subscribers to know new information exists. It also helps you build social relationships and trust over time, which is important if you sell expensive products or services.
Most people subscribing to RSS feeds are tech savvy. A few people doing it are thick (as noted here), but for now they are in the minority. As the quality and diversity of content online increase and large tech companies push it more and more people will subscribe to RSS feeds.
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