Let’s get straight down to basics here: anyone wishing to set up an effective news feed must have up to date top quality content, and also the right website structure – an optimal platform for news and blogs. So, what do these core issues actually come down to?
Selecting the right platform for news and blog feeds
Choosing a tried and tested publishing platform is essential. Here at Purecontent, more than 50 per cent of our clients use the excellent open source platform “WordPress,” one of the most popular and versatile content management and blogging applications to be found on the web. It allows news writers and bloggers to time stamp, edit and add to their content at will – features which also come in especially handy on occasions when the feed rules change. Content managers can be niftily proactive using this platform – numerous professionals agree about its usefulness. In the space of a single year, WordPress soared from 8.5% to 14.7% of the world’s top million websites’ CMS of choice. In the United States, 22% of newly created sites now use it.
One of the attractions of WordPress is that it does not have to support the whole site – it can be used as a bolt on, reserved for news sections only or blogging. This is in fact just how we use it at Purecontent.com – working in unison with our main site we have one WordPress site for resources and one for industry news. WordPress also supports apps for most mobile operating systems, including iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows 7 and BlackBerry.
Alternatives to WordPress do, of course, exist – Drupal, for example, whose “story module” is excellent for news and blog feeds (check it at http://drupal.org/documentation/modules/story).
Getting the site structure right
Setting up a news feed depends on getting the site structure “just so.” Each page of news content has to have its own unique URL. In addition, if it is to be picked up by Google News, every URL for a news story needs a unique identifier number of at least three digits – not the date. Google will not be able to crawl a page URL such as this:
But it can crawl a page with a URL like this:
Google will not recognize a page with fresh daily news content that simply gets posted on the same URL every day. This is known as “recycling” and Google doesn’t like it, preferring permanent, unique URLs instead.
Finally, keep the news section in one place and do not be tempted to flip it over to another part of the site. Individuals that shuffle their news content around like this will get 404d pretty quickly (and they will not be notified – the feed will simply be discontinued). And if the site runs a subscription service, do not expect Google to fill in forms – the crawler must get in for free. That means instructing servers to waive registration forms whenever the visiting User-Agent goes by the name of “Googlebot.”