Many readers have asked me if I see the issue of old posts suddenly appearing as recently updated in RSS news aggregators (when you have not actually updated the post). I see this issue very often since I added related posts to my feed and in other feeds who do the same.
Related Entries was the first WordPress Plugin I installed on my blog. It is an amazing plugin which finds keyword related posts to the current article and displays them easily as per customised parameters. The results are very accurate too. See this plugin at work at the bottom of this post displaying 5 related articles. This is helpful to readers to find your related content and helps to increase pageviews. It automates everything, so you do not need to add related posts manually.
Why do you see False Duplicate Updated Posts?
I decided to add the related posts to my feeds. You can see these at work in my feed as related reading below each article. Now suppose I write something about Google adsense, the related posts plugin will update the related articles in several other posts about Google Adsense to include this latest post. Depending on how many articles you display in the feed, the related articles in older posts will change, causing minor changes in your feed output.
Some newsreaders like Bloglines are more sensitive to very minor changes in the feed content and display them as updated articles. Other news aggregators like Google Readers are less sensitive to such minor updates and do not show duplication. However, Bloglines addresses this issue, and you can edit the feed settings to ignore updated posts. They say another area where people may see duplicates are search subscriptions.
“You aren’t imagining it in this case. What’s happening is that some feeds aggregate and repost content from other sources so you are seeing the post that came from the original source plus the reposts. You might also see duplicates because publishers offer feeds in multiple syndication formats such as Atom and RSS.”
How to prevent False Duplicate Updated Posts
1. Remove the related posts in feeds if it concerns you too much. I still run them because it provides an accurate estimate of related posts, is useful for readers and helps to increase pageviews
If you decide to keep related posts in feeds, read on…
2. Switch News Aggregators – If the duplicated and false updated posts troubles you too much, switch to a less sensitive newsreader like Google Reader. You can encourage your readers who are too troubled by this to do the same. Bloglines users can edit feed settings to ignore post updates. I recently switched from Bloglines to Google reader.
3. Reduce number of links in related posts – you can customize how many links or related posts to display. These will affect both the display on your site and feed, you cannot customize 10 related links on your blog and 3 related posts in your feed (which I would love to do). The lesser the links, lesser the chances of updated posts in your feed.
4. Reduce number of articles in your feed – The more articles you display in your feed, the more chances are there that your latest post will cause a 3 month post to show as updated. Keep the number to a reasonable extent and this issue should not bother you. Probably those showing 10 articles in your feed will never see this issue, while someone showing 100 posts in their feed will have this bothersome issue.
If there are other causes or issues to fix this, feel free to share them in comments.