Gaby Abela

Gaby Abela

Gaby is a talented content creator with a passion for design and an intuitive understanding of UI/UX. Guided by the principles of ethical content sharing, her articles aim to enlighten and engage, making the complexities of RSS feed plugins for WordPress accessible to all.

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A Beginner’s Guide to RSS Feeds

Maximize productivity with this simple guide on how to setup RSS feeds. Learn the benefits of RSS feeds and how to find and organize them.
setup rss feeds

Want to stay up-to-date with your favorite blogs and share relevant content for others to read? Then you need to know how to set up RSS feeds!

RSS feeds are a great way to keep up with your favorite websites and blogs as well as share your content with others. They allow you to receive updates from those websites directly into your email inbox or onto your computer desktop, so you don’t have to visit each website individually to check for new content. You can also aggregate content on the internet and share it as posts on your own blog. It’s a massive time-saver.

In this post, we’ll explore what RSS feeds are, how they work, and ways you can use them. 

What is an RSS Feed?

An RSS (really simple syndication) feed is a list of updates from a website or blog that you can subscribe to using an RSS reader. They’re used both for reading your frequently accessed content (like blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc.) all in one place. They’re also widely used for republishing content by aggregating different sources on one topic into one website and curating relevant content for readers. 

Despite the rise of numerous other technologies and platforms, RSS still works as a reliable tool for content syndication and consumption.

RSS formats are specified using XML, a generic specification for online data formats. Unlike HTML, which is for web pages, RSS’s job is to share content. 

An RSS feed is a format for delivering frequently-changing web content. RSS feeds display content in a standardized format, allowing users to subscribe and stay updated with the latest news and items. Feeds can include text, images, and audio/video content and can be used to syndicate content from different websites and blogs.

In order for readers to be updated on your latest blog posts, you should have an RSS feed that others can subscribe to. This will allow visitors to see, follow, and even syndicate your content on their own platforms. To do this, just create a feed and place an RSS icon on your homepage – a small icon indicating a web feed is available. We’ll go through this later. 

Benefits of Using RSS Feeds 

The benefits of RSS feeds for updating your WordPress site, as well as for content consumption, are significant. For instance: RSS feeds: 

  • Allow users to stay up-to-date with the latest from various news sources.
  • Let you customize the content you deliver to users, posting original content or aggregating from similar topics online.
  • Enhance convenience, as they are delivered directly to the user, eliminating the need for them to visit multiple websites or blogs to stay up-to-date.

Beyond these, there are additional benefits of RSS feeds that make consuming your website content easier for users. These include: 

  • Saving time – Users don’t have to visit each website individually to check for updates. They just check their RSS reader!
  • Staying up-to-date – If they’re interested in the latest content from multiple websites, including yours, using an RSS feed helps them avoid missing any critical updates.
  • Easily sharing content – They can easily share interesting posts from your RSS feed on social media or via email or share it on their own blog.

If you want others to subscribe to your content on your WordPress website, your RSS feed allows them to do that too.

typing at laptop keyboard

How to Set Up an RSS Feed

The following is a step-by-step tutorial to add an RSS feed to WordPress. You can do this to aggregate and allow others to view your syndicated content on their feed reader and to allow readers to reshare your publications on their site. We’ll go through both options. You can add virtually any web page’s RSS to your feed and even automate feed-to-post to create new articles using WordPress plugins. 

Syndicating and curating content with an RSS Feed

Step 1: Deciding what content you want to syndicate

If you want to use RSS feeds to syndicate content for your blog, first decide what kind of content you want to syndicate. This could be news articles, podcast episodes, or any other content related to the one that you regularly publish on your web page.

Next, find an RSS feed tool like WP RSS Aggregator to automate the process of publishing your new publications to your readers. 

Here’s the tool listed in WordPress:

add WP RSS plugin

Depending on the plan you choose, installing it lets you access a whole variety of features, such as templates, keyword filtering, full-text RSS feeds, and more. 

Step 2: Adding relevant information 

Include the necessary information, like the publish date, title, and content of each new item. If you’re creating a podcast RSS feed, you’ll also want to include information like the duration and a link to the episode on Spotify or other platforms.

First, select the name of the feed. (You can do this by adding “/feed” to the end of the website URL. Almost all websites have this option).

choose feed for WP RSS Aggregator

Then choose the items you want to display. 

display feed items in WP RSS Aggregator

You can configure what you want to display by going to settings under the RSS Aggregator tab on your WP dashboard. Beginners can update the interval (how often the feed updates), which items to display, and how many items the feed can contain per import. 

Step 5: Publishing and sharing

Once you’ve updated your publish settings for your selected sources, you can create a feed of your own for others to subscribe to. 

Making Your Content Available via RSS Feed

WordPress sites have RSS feeds by default, so if you have a WordPress site, you can skip ahead to the next section. If you have a non-WP site, use a feed generator, which you’ll learn how to do below. 

Step 1: Creating an RSS Feed

If you want to share your own content, set up RSS feeds on your own. You can do this by using an RSS feed generator like Feedburner or manually creating an XML file using a text editor.

Feedburner user interface

Step 2: Share the feed on your site 

Next, publish the feed on your web page and obtain the RSS feed URL. This URL is what your subscribers will use to subscribe to your feed.

WP RSS Aggregator settings

You can choose any URL you wish. 

Step 6: Promote Your RSS Feed

Lastly, promote your new RSS feed and encourage subscriptions by adding subscription buttons or links to your web page and social media accounts.

How to Use RSS Feeds for Maximum Productivity

As we have seen, generating a custom blog RSS feed is an excellent way to stay and keep readers updated on the latest news, blogs, podcasts, and other online content that matters to them. You can subscribe to multiple sites and notify yourself or your followers when a new story breaks. 

In this section, we look at how to use them for maximum productivity. 

How to Find the Right Feeds

There are a vast number of sources available, so finding the right RSS feed is challenging. To find the best feeds, research and find those that are reliable and trustworthy. Additionally, find sources that offer relevant content to users’ interests and needs. You can also survey readers or your target audience to ask what sources they read besides yours that are similar in topic.

Avoid subscribing to or syndicating every site that offers an RSS feed. Instead, focus on those that provide relevant, valuable information that matches your audience’s interests and goals. Use filters to sift through stories, sorting feeds by topic, priority, author, or source. 

How to Organize Your Feeds

Users should consider using an RSS reader to keep track of their feeds, as this can make it easier to manage and organize content. Some browsers have built-in RSS readers or extensions that can enable this functionality. 

Organizing RSS feeds via a widget can be challenging because of the abundance of sources. Therefore, you need to be methodical. Using WP RSS Aggregator can help you organize them for syndication, while a tool like Feedly can help you organize your feeds for reading.

To organize RSS feeds, especially when you’re curating for republication, start by creating different categories for different types of content. Decide on the main categories you want to share. For instance, you might have categories for “news,” “sport,” or “entertainment.”

Here’s an example from WP RSS Aggregator where someone has used the tool to create a feed of stories from a list of commercial real estate brokers:

real estate website using WP RSS Aggregator

With WP RSS Aggregator, you can also create subcategories within the main categories. For instance, under “news,” you could add “business” or “celebrities.”

To create categories for RSS feed content, use the <category> tag. This tag can have the optional “domain” attribute, which specifies a URL or identifier for the category scheme. You can add multiple category tags to an item if you want it to appear in several categories. 

Knowing the RSS pub date – the last publication date for an item in an RSS feed – is critical because it helps aggregators know when newly-published content is available. It follows the  RFC 822 date and time specification (Mon, 03 Oct 2022). This way, you can arrange content in date order. 

You can also create an XML file containing the information and links of your subscribed feed items. To do this, you’ll need to: 

  1. Create a new XML file using a text editor or online tool.
  2. Use the root element <rssfeeds> containing all feed elements as its children.
  3. Create a child element called <feed> under the <rssfeeds> element (including the name and URL). For example: <feed name=”BBC News” url=”http://feeds.bbci.co.uk/news/rss.xml”/>.
  4. Save your XML file and store it safely (or upload it to a cloud service for multi-device access). 
  5. Look for an option in your RSS reader to import the XML or OPML file. Select the files and follow the instructions to import them. 
  6. Enjoy reading your newly organized RSS feed!

Importing RSS feeds into posts saves you time and effort by eliminating the need to manually write or copy and paste content from other sources. You can also keep your blog updated, so it’s fresh and interesting to your audience. 

Another option is to use an RSS template, a file that defines how an RSS feed is formatted and displayed. Most are written in XML, as above. 

Tips for Keeping Up with Your Feeds

Keeping up with RSS feeds can be difficult, as it is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of content available. To stay up to date with feeds, you can:

  1. Set a schedule and make time to check feeds regularly. 
  2. Set up notifications for when new content is available, as this can help ensure you do not miss any important updates.
  3. Use an RSS widget to customize how many items to display, what information to show (such as title, date, summary, or image), how often to refresh the content, and how to style the widget, such as its color or font. 

Use WP RSS Aggregator to Syndicate or Read Your Favorite Content 

You can use RSS feeds to keep track of your favorite blogs, YouTube channels, and podcasts or to share your own content online for others to read and republish. It makes it easy to curate information and only consume the content that really matters to you. 

RSS feeds can be a great way to stay up-to-date with the latest news and updates, but it is ideal to use them productively. Finding the right feeds, organizing them, and staying up to date with them can be challenging, but following the tips outlined above can help users make the most of their RSS feeds.

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