Whether or not you are using RSS links on a WordPress blog, RSS feeds are being generated and savvy users will use them. RSS feeds are a great way to keep users updated when you add additional articles to your site, but they can be a double-edged sword that can seriously hurt your search engine rankings if you allow RSS feeds to be created using the entire contents of your articles.
A lot of malicious activity occurs on the web, and much of it originates in countries where it is nearly impossible to enforce copyrights. It can be difficult to protect your hard work because content thieves can cut-and-paste articles and spam bots can crawl a web site and steal the contents. But the introduction of RSS feeds makes this process much simpler because it is now easier than ever to automate content theft with simple scripts that any junior level hacker can write. If you do not configure your RSS feed properly, you are literally giving your content away to anyone who wants to publish it on their site.
What we are referring to are sites called auto-blogs, spam blogs or simply splogs. These are web sites that typically use automated methods to copy the contents from other sites, which allows them to quickly add lots of content to their sites very rapidly. While this eventually results in duplicate content penalties which are intended to reduce an auto blogs ability to rank well over the long term, in the short term they can draw in a lot of traffic. In the worst case situations, search engines spiders may mistakenly view the spam content as being original and the original author’s content as the duplicate. Pages flagged as duplicates will see their ability to rank well diminished.
The Simple WordPress Fix for RSS Feeds
The solution is to never allow the entire contents of your blog posts to show up in RSS feeds. For some unexplainable reason, the default setting for WordPress does display entire articles in the RSS feed. The solution is the change the RSS setting to display a Summary only. The summary is just the first few sentences of the post.
In older versions of WordPress the setting can be found in Options > Reading > For each article, Show: Summary
In newer versions of WordPress this has been moved to Settings > Reading > For each article in a feed, Show: Summary
Make sure that the Summary radio button is selected. This means that only the first couple of sentences will show up in your RSS feeds, which will limit the ability of autoblogs to steal your content.