RSS Feeds For WordPress
Back in the early days of the internet, checking to see whether a site had fresh content to read required actually visiting it. Bookmarking the site was as much of a shortcut as you could get. However, developers quickly created a useful way to automate that process.
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a method of bringing new content to you, so you don’t have to go looking for it. In simplest terms, it’s a way of curating content from sources you select. RSS feeds have been around for a while, but they still have a solid place within WordPress.
This post will look at RSS feeds in more detail, and then show you how to set up one for your WordPress website. Let’s take a look!
What Is an RSS Feed?
In a nutshell, an RSS feed is a way for websites and other services to distribute their content to readers easily. Behind the scenes, a feed is simply a structured Extensible Markup Language (XML) document, which includes the content itself and some associated metadata.
Understanding the underlying technology isn’t necessary to use RSS feeds, of course. As an end user, you can easily view your feed in a number of places – within your inbox, for example, or via a dedicated reader such as Feedly.
What’s more, WordPress provides built-in RSS functionality. This means you can publish a dedicated feed of your site’s content. Although some website owners simply disable or ignore this option, it actually has a lot to offer you.
What Are the Benefits of Using RSS Feeds?
Getting content in front of your audience is a key concern, regardless of your niche. RSS feeds are a perfect way to do this. One of the main reasons is that users have to do practically nothing in order to view your content (aside from clicking on a link).
Since the feed does all the work, users don’t even have to memorize your URL. This, in addition to the enhanced portability this feature provides, means that RSS feeds can become a central tool in promoting your site’s content.
How to Set Up an RSS Feed on WordPress Sites
Fortunately, setting up an RSS feed on your WordPress website is a simple process. Let’s take a look at exactly how to do it!
Step 1: Detect Your RSS Feed(s) Using FeedBurner
By default, your WordPress site will already have one or more RSS feeds in place. Therefore, your first step is to find out the URLs of those feeds. This is easy to do using Google’s FeedBurner tool:
Don’t be fooled by its retro look. FeedBurner is actually a valuable tool for the task at hand. Simply enter your domain into the relevant field, and click on Next. You’ll then see a results screen showing you every feed that’s associated with your site:
At this point, you simply need to note down the URL of any feeds that appear here. Then, you can move on to the next task.
Step 2: Redirect Your Default Feed Within WordPress
Once you have at least one RSS feed URL, you’ll need to tell WordPress to redirect your feed to FeedBurner. This can easily be achieved using a dedicated plugin, such as RSS Redirect & Feedburner Alternative:
After installing and activating this plugin, head to the RSS Redirect panel within WordPress, and select Click here to activate redirect:
This will redirect your feed in a matter of seconds. After this, all that’s left is to give your visitors a way to view your feed.
You’ll also notice that there are other options on this screen relating various feeds, along with a custom feed field. If the plugin doesn’t redirect your feed properly, adding it here manually should do the trick.
Step 3: Display Your Feed on Your Site’s Front End
Finally, you’ll want to add a clickable icon to the front end on your site, in order to help visitors access your RSS feed. This is simple to do, especially if you use a widget.
To do that, you’ll need to head to Appearance > Widgets within your WordPress dashboard, and look for the RSS option. Simply drag it to your desired widget area (such as a sidebar or footer), and take a look at its settings:
The options here are pretty self-explanatory. Once you’ve saved any changes, your RSS feed will be displayed on your site’s front end at the specified location!
Best RSS Feed Plugins for WordPress
Of course, there is more than one solution for viewing RSS feeds within WordPress. We’ve outlined three excellent plugins you can use in the table above. Let’s talk a little more about each one.
The free version helps you aggregate feeds from as many sources as required, and lets you display your feed anywhere on your site using shortcodes. What’s more, you can open videos directly from within the feed. However, if you’re a ‘hardcore’ feed user, having some functionality locked behind a paywall could become inconvenient.
Next, Feedzy RSS Feeds is a fully-premium solution that costs around $80 for a single licence:
This plugin functions similarly to the first option, although it also provides a caching solution and both WordAI and Gutenberg integration. However, there’s no free version, so you’ll need to be a committed user of RSS feeds if you want to get your money’s worth.
Finally, we have Category Specific RSS Feed Subscription:
This is another free plugin that, as the name suggests, lets you specify which categories are displayed in your feed. For multi-topic blogs, this is extremely useful, although there’s always the danger of missing a useful piece of content by ignoring certain categories.
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