RSS, “Really Simple Syndication”, is a way to easily distribute a list of headlines, update notices, and sometimes content to your users. Setting up a feed is a straightforward process, as is resolving the errors you might find. The majority of the common errors experienced when working with RSS Feeds are due to the strict XML syntax structure.
If you receive an error on your RSS feed, first make sure that you have public posts on your site. The RSS relies on posts in order to work and is the most basic and often the most overlooked resolution.
To test if not having posts is the issue:
- Create a test post
- Clear cache or open a private browsing window
- Test the feed again
If you are still receiving an error, make sure that the feed is validated. Even though RSS is a relatively simple technology, it can be incorrectly implemented by many tools. To prevent this, validators were constructed to translate the feed into code to make it easier to determine if you the site is producing RSS correctly.
To test if your RSS feed url is validated:
- Find an RSS validator that you trust (feedvalidator.org is an example of one that we use)
- Enter your RSS feed url, it will either give some possible causes of the error or validate the url
The last resolution option is also the most complex and should be attempted only after the first two have been completed. As we mentioned earlier, XML follows a strict syntax and seemingly insignificant things like a blank line or a tab can cause the feed to break and the XML to error out. You can remedy this by looking for the blank space manually. Since we will be looking into the theme and plugin file, you may not want to disrupt the live production site, so we recommend creating a staging area (http://support.wpengine.com/staging/) and testing there first then applying the changes on the production side.
To remove the blank space manually:
- In your staging area, change the theme back to default, checking your feed every step of the way in a new private browsing window or clear the cache each time.
- If it works after resetting your theme, then there is a bad file somewhere in your theme.
- If it doesn’t work, disable your plugins one by one, each step checking your feed, until it works.
- Once you find out which one the culprit is you will want to reach out to the developer of that plugin or theme and let them know the issue you are experiencing.
- If you are able to reach the developer, indicate to them that it most likely is a blank line at the beginning or end of one of the PHP files, which should help them to correct the error.
- Open each of the PHP files for that theme or plugin and remove any blank lines. Remove them and test the feed. This process will clear the majority of errors you will receive on the RSS feed.