Mark Zahra

Mark Zahra

Mark has been involved with WP RSS Aggregator for almost a decade, from running customer support to now leading RebelCode, the company behind the plugin. He has a passion for content and news, especially the concept of ethically sharing content to help each other grow.

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Optimize Your RSS Feed: Leveraging Validators for Error-Free Publishing

What are RSS feed validators, and more importantly, why do you need them? We will be answering these questions in this article. So, read on.
What Are RSS Feed Validators and Why Do You Need Them?

If you have used RSS, then you know how important RSS feed validators are. But what exactly are these validators, how do they work, and more importantly, why do you need them?

We will be answering these questions and more in this article. So, read on.

What are RSS Feed Validators?

RSS feed validators are programs that allow you to check if your RSS feed is valid. A valid RSS feed contains data that is organized in a specific way so that it can be read or displayed properly by other software, such as RSS readers or RSS content aggregators.

A laptop on someone's lap with someone typing.

When creating your own RSS or XML files, there are rules that you need to follow. The problem is, your RSS editor will not always be clear about these rules. For instance, you need to enter full URLs into an RSS document such as http://www.examplesite.com/tech.xml and not just www.examplesite.com/tech.xml.

By entering an incomplete link, your RSS document will be invalid, which means it will not display properly in RSS readers. This is why it is always important to check your RSS feeds using validators before publishing them.

How Do Feed Validators Work?

RSS feed validators are basically programs that allow you to make sure your RSS feeds are up to standard. In order to check your RSS feeds, you simply need to upload the file onto the feed validator website and give them a few seconds. Once done, you will receive all sorts of information about your RSS feed, including any errors that it may have.

The information you receive will vary depending on which feed validator you are using. Some feed validators will only let you know whether the file has any errors or not. More advanced feed validators will tell you what kind of errors your RSS feeds have and how to fix them.

There are also some RSS feed validators that will look at such information as the category of blog posts or podcasts, podcast formatting, network speed, readability of the content, SEO (search engine optimization), and all kinds of podcast or blog metadata.

The best RSS feed validators

While there is no shortage of services offering RSS feeds, it’s important to choose the best one.

For those leveraging content management systems (CMS) to construct their websites, it’s worth noting that various CMS platforms have specific requirements for integrating RSS feeds. Employing an RSS feed validator ensures that your feed adheres to standardized formats, making it compatible with any CMS. 

Utilizing tools like RSS validators provides immediate feedback on your feed’s status. They promptly inform you whether the feed is valid or not, along with guidance on rectifying any identified errors.

Here, we’ve researched and put together a list of the best RSS feed validators:

RSS Feed Viewer

RSS Feed Viewer

RSS Feed Viewer is a user-friendly RSS feed validation tool that simplifies the process of ensuring your RSS feeds are error-free and well-structured. It offers a straightforward interface, making it accessible to users with varying levels of technical expertise. By simply inputting your RSS feed URL, RSS Feed Viewer provides you with instant feedback on the validity of your feed. It identifies and highlights any errors or issues, allowing you to address them promptly. Whether you’re a content creator, blogger, or website owner, RSS Feed Viewer is a valuable tool for maintaining the integrity and reliability of your RSS feeds.

W3C Validator

W3C Validator

The W3C RSS Validator, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is a trusted and authoritative tool for RSS feed validation. W3C is a globally recognized organization responsible for web standards, and their RSS validator upholds those standards with precision. By submitting your RSS feed URL, you receive thorough analysis and validation reports, ensuring that your feed complies with industry best practices. W3C’s reputation for excellence in web standards makes their RSS validator an indispensable resource for web developers and content publishers striving for top-tier RSS feed quality.

Cast Feed Validator

Cast Feed Validator

Cast Feed Validator is a specialized tool designed to validate RSS podcast feeds. As podcasts continue to gain popularity, ensuring the accuracy and validity of podcast feeds is paramount. Cast Feed Validator simplifies this process by thoroughly inspecting your podcast RSS feed checking for adherence to podcast-specific standards. It assesses essential elements like episode metadata, media files, and enclosures, ensuring that your podcast can be successfully distributed across various podcast platforms. Whether you’re a podcaster or media producer, Cast Feed Validator is an essential tool to guarantee that your podcast reaches its intended audience without technical issues.

How do you validate an RSS feed?

Validating an RSS feed is a crucial step in ensuring that your content reaches your audience error-free. To validate an RSS feed, you can use online RSS feed validation tools or dedicated software. These tools analyze your feed for compliance with RSS specifications and highlight any issues that may prevent proper syndication.

To begin, simply copy the URL of your RSS feed and paste it into a reputable RSS feed validator. Click the validation or check button, and the tool will inspect your feed for common errors such as missing elements, incorrect formatting, or broken links. It will provide a report detailing any issues found.

Regularly validating your RSS feed helps maintain its integrity, ensuring subscribers receive content without disruptions.

Can you get an RSS feed from any website?

In most cases, you can extract an RSS feed from a website, especially if the website publishes regularly updated content such as articles, blog posts, or news updates. Websites that support RSS typically provide a link to their RSS feed in a standardized format.

To find an RSS feed, look for an orange RSS icon or a subscribe or RSS link on the website’s homepage or within the page you want to follow. Clicking on this link will lead you to the RSS feed URL, which you can copy and paste into your preferred RSS reader or aggregator.

However, it’s important to note that not all websites offer RSS feeds. Some modern websites may have moved away from RSS in favor of social media or email subscriptions. In such cases, you won’t find an RSS feed available. Nevertheless, many websites, particularly news sites and blogs, still provide RSS feeds as a convenient way for users to stay updated. Don’t forget, RSS-to-Email is also possible. The conversion of the most recent RSS feed updates into an email format effectively guarantees that subscribers receive punctual notifications regarding new content, all without the need for manual website or RSS reader monitoring.

Examples of RSS Feed Errors

You will be surprised to learn that there are several common types of errors found in RSS feeds. Some RSS feed validators will let you know about these errors and how to fix them.

  • Timeout Errors: These errors are often caused when a server takes too long to respond. The issue may be due to the server itself, an outdated browser or a weak internet connection among other things. To solve this, you can use the Static Feed plugin on WordPress which displays a static version of your site. This way, the site doesn’t have to load every time someone clicks on the link. 
  • URL Errors: These errors are usually caused by URLs that do not have a protocol or file path. In order to fix this, make sure to enter the correct link for every RSS entry which includes a full link such as https://www.examplesite.com/tech.xml instead of www.examplesite.com/tech.xml.
  • Formatting Errors: These errors happen when there are mismatched HTML tags in the RSS file. To fix this, make sure that you check your RSS files for any HTML or formatting codes and ensure they are closed properly. Alternatively, you can use pre-made templates by WP RSS Aggregator.
  • Missing Feed Elements: These errors usually occur when a publisher forgets to include some basic elements in a feed such as a title, a description, an author, an ID and so on. While these may seem like basic errors, they can be rather important since they are used to help people find your feed in the first place. 
  • Size Limitation: These errors happen when an RSS feed is too large for the publisher to handle. For instance, you can have a maximum of 25 items in your index file and each article should not exceed more than 60,000 characters. If this happens, try reducing the number of elements or shorten the text size until you are within the limits.

How do you know that an RSS feed is valid?

To ensure that your RSS feed is valid and error-free, you can use online RSS feed validation services or dedicated software. These tools analyze your RSS feed based on established standards and notify you of any issues that may hinder proper syndication.

After submitting your RSS feed URL to a validator, the tool will inspect it for common problems, such as missing elements, incorrect formatting, or broken links. If any issues are detected, the validator will provide a detailed report, often with suggestions on how to fix the problems.

Some RSS validators offer real-time validation, allowing you to see if your feed complies with the standard as you make changes. Regularly validating your RSS feed is a best practice to ensure that it functions correctly and delivers content smoothly to your subscribers. This proactive approach helps maintain a positive user experience and ensures that your audience receives your content without disruptions.

How to Identify RSS Errors Using a Feed Validator

Man browsing a website on his tablet

Depending on the type of error you have with your RSS feed, there are several different ways you can fix it. In most cases, an RSS feed validator will only show you the type of errors you have and suggestions on how to fix them but will not actually fix them per se.

This means that you will need to fix the errors manually in your XML document editor. Luckily, the validator will show you exactly where to find these errors and how to fix them.

Whichever validator you are using, the process of identifying errors is roughly the same. It goes something like this:

  • Step 1: Copy your RSS feed URL.
  • Step 2: Paste the feed URL into the appropriate field on the validator website.
  • Step 3: Choose whether you want to see just basic errors or all of them by clicking the “Check Feed” button.

If there are any errors with your XML file, you will see a list of errors and their corresponding messages.

Now, you will have to go back to your XML editor, fix the errors one by one, and then validate your RSS again just to ensure everything is working fine.

Conclusion

If you are a publisher, having a valid RSS feed that is error-free is essential to ensure that your subscribers receive all of your content on time. Otherwise, all your hard work in creating amazing content may go unnoticed by the right people. In any case, the importance of RSS validation cannot be overstated. 

A reliable RSS validator is your key to guaranteeing that your data is presented in a readable format to the reader, ensuring that your content reaches its intended audience seamlessly. Don’t overlook the significance of regularly validating RSS feeds to maintain their integrity and reliability.

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