When you publish content and provide an RSS feed for people to access that content, you lose a little bit of control over it. Scratch that – you lose a lot of control over it. You’re basically giving people a file which can be used to populate other blogs, websites, ezines – even print documents. Yes, you can copyright your blog content and require permission for reuse, but there’s still no way to completely prevent misuse of your RSS feed if you make it public.
Content Aggregation Sites
Sometimes, you may proactively add your feed to a content aggregator site, like Social Media Today. That’s a great thing to do for visibility and blog promotion. However, you won’t enjoy the benefits of the traffic back to your site unless there is a way to get back – a clear, obvious way. (This is another reason you should do lots of internal linking, by the way). Additionally, you lose a little bit of identity when you do that, unless you can find a way to brand your content so people know where it came from.
Should You Keep Your RSS Feed Private?
There are certain cases for keeping an RSS feed private, but in general, you should not make it private. The RSS feed is central to what makes blogs such powerful publishing tools. Advanced users know how to create a private feed and a public one; however, the majority of bloggers should keep their RSS feed public AND properly distribute it and make it openly available to subscribers.
Brand and Protect Your Blog with RSS Footer
So the problem is two-fold: you need to cover yourself by adding some type of copyright and link to your blog (the source), and you also need to properly brand your blog when the full text from the feed is being used outside of your blog. Even though you can’t protect your RSS completely, there are little things you can do. There are actually quite a few different plugins for adding a copyright notice to your feed (Simple Feed Copyright works well), but the one that I’ve found that works the best for both branding and copyright is called RSS Footer by Yoast.com.
RSS Footer is a free plugin for WordPress that you can use to add text and links to each post in your RSS feed. You can add your copyright notice, along with a simple line of text that says something akin to “This Post was published on This Blog.” You can use the tags provided to add your blog’s description and/or name automatically and link it back to your blog, or, you can completely customize the HTML.
How to Use It
Once you download, install, and activate the plugin on your blog, it is ready for use.
You can set whether or not the text is displayed before or after the post content. If you use a site like Social Media Today, I’d recommend putting this information after the content, because if you include a pitch, they will not publish it if your post starts off with something too salesy. Keep that information at the end, just like in regular article marketing.
Ideas for Making It Stellar
1. Don’t use the example in the images above. That’s for illustrative purposes only.
2. Be sure to include a link back to the post or another deep link, and a link to your home page. Also do not forget your copyright notice!
3. Add a single sentence – your blog’s elevator pitch. Why should someone click back to your blog? Include a call to action in your elevator pitch.
4. If you have a single author blog, also add your name.
Let me know if you have any questions, or additional suggestions for branding and protecting your blog’s RSS feed.