Perhaps one of the least known WordPress features in its default installation is the availability of the latest posts or blog posts via RSS Feed and under a web address of the same domain name.
Despite being a technology with many years behind (the first version was available almost 20 years ago), its usefulness remains practically intact, especially when a user wants to stay informed of the latest publications from various websites.
In this way, a user does not need to periodically visit a website to check new publications, but simply add the RSS Feed of this site to an RSS reader, to show you the publications from the moment they are published.
In addition to this first immediate utility, since RSS Feeds are based on a standardized electronic format, they can also be useful to increase the quality and variety of content from a website or blog, importing external publications that they consider of interest to their users.
In this article, we will go into detail on the possibilities and scope of WordPress RSS Feed, a content manager that offers basic support for its generation and distribution, although we will need additional plugins to incorporate the content from external RSS feeds.
What is an RSS Feed?
First of all, let’s start by looking at what exactly an RSS Feed is and how we can use it to save time.
RSS is an acronym for the English expression “Really Simple Syndication” or “Rich Site Summary”, which provides users and web applications of a system with access to updates to the content of a website through a file in text format standardized.
This file is based on a XML structure, where the information is organized through labels that identify each element of the content; for example, the title, date and author of a blog post, or the text-summary of that post, among others.
Although this file, being in text format, can be read directly by a person, it is preferable to use a RSS reader, which downloads this file and displays its content on the screen in a visual format and graphic elements that facilitate its reading and monitoring.
When a website has an RSS Feed, it provides its web address through a logo with a distinctive symbol similar to the following (may appear in color or black and white):
Then, the user must copy this web address in their RSS reader to register it, and from that moment on, they will be able to consult the updated information on that website at any time, without having to visit it.
In general, web readers only show the information contained in the RSS file, so if the user wants to consult the full text of the publication, they should visit the article on the original website, through a link that is also included in the RSS file and that the RSS reader shows.
In this way, the website owner continues to receive visits from users and also gets increase your residence time in this one, because when they visit it it is to read a complete article, not to check if there is any news.
What is the RSS Feed for?
RSS Feeds allow you to simplify and centralize in a single point, the RSS reader, the content that is scattered on various websites.
As a sharing tool, provides website and blog owners of a system so that their users are always informed of the latest publications, without having to visit them daily, from the moment they are published, improving the relationship and loyalty with users.
As a working tool, It is essential for those who must continually review the news in a certain sector and have all that information organized, to have easy and quick access to content, and without the need to spend hours tracking through multiple reference blogs.
In addition, it also allows import external information, from other websites with similar themes, to enrich the content of our own blog, resulting in an improvement in the perception of our brand among users, who will see us as a relevant and useful reference.
In general, the main advantages of an RSS Feed for a blog would be the following:
- Attract more users to the website. When someone subscribes to the RSS Feed, they will have all the blog posts in their email or RSS reader, along with a link to the original content.
- Improve Google tracking. Google crawlers can interpret the elements of an RSS Feed and follow their links to crawl the website.
- Import external content. Through an RSS Feed, you can download the content of the entire post and include it on our blog as reference information.
- Sharing on Social Networks. Every time there is a new post, a reference is published on Social Networks, through the RSS integration mechanisms that many offer.
- Loyalty to users. The information provided in the RSS Feed, whether its own or imported, is a value-added service for the user, improving their brand perception.
- Automate email marketing campaigns, so that every time there is a new publication, an email is automatically generated to the subscribers.
How to configure the RSS Feed of your website in WordPress
In its default installation, without the need to add plugins, WordPress generates an RSS Feed file of the latest blog entries.
Its configuration possibilities are very limited, both only allowing you to indicate the maximum number of entries it will supply and whether it includes a summary or the full text of each publication:
To access and download the RSS Feed file from a WordPress website, you just need to add the string “/ feed” to your web address. For example, for the website www.afernandezalonso.com, the address of your feed will be www.afernandezalonso.com/feed.
When entering this web address in the browser, it will show us your content in text format; that is, the XML code of that file. To see it well laid out and formatted, we must use an RSS reader, indicating this same address.
In the following video we can see where and how to configure the RSS Feed on a WordPress website:
Fix feeds or RSS errors in WordPress
WordPress RSS Feed Plugins
Since the RSS Feed functionality that WordPress offers is quite limited, without even allowing you to import and integrate RSS Feeds from external websites, we will use plugins when we want to enrich our content with information from external publications.
In this section, we are going to see the best free RSS Feed plugins for WordPress, highlighting its most interesting features and the functionality it provides us to take advantage of all the possibilities of RSS Feeds.
To make the selection as varied and complete as possible, in addition to plugins that have the typical functions of this type of tool, others have been included that, although based on RSS Feed files, offer different functionalities from the usual ones, which may be very useful.
WP RSS Aggregator
WP RSS Aggregator was the first RSS plugin with the ability to import, integrate and display RSS Feeds on a WordPress website. With more than 60,000 active installations, one of the most widespread plugins for RSS Feeds in WordPress.
The free version of this plugin allows add as many RSS feeds from different sources and stagger them for better performance in accessing and downloading RSS data.
WP RSS Aggregator incorporates shortcodes that, with various parameters, allow integrating all RSS Feeds from one or more websites within any WordPress post or page. It also has widgets, to integrate them into the different blocks of the web pages.
Among the features of the free version, the following should be highlighted:
- Design each element of the Feed through CSS style sheets.
- Import any number of Feed items from multiple RSS feeds, or just the titles of each item.
- Set the links of the elements of an RSS Feed as “no-follow”.
- Show the name of the author of the post in each item of the Feed.
- Staggered update of the Feeds, so as not to overload our server.
FEEDZY RSS Feeds Lite
Feedzy RSS Feeds Lite is another of the most complete RSS Feeds plugins available for WordPress.
Feedzy RSS Feeds also includes shortcodes, to add the different Feeds anywhere in the content, be they posts, pages and other types of personalized content, directly from the WordPress editor.
Feeds layout can be design through CSS style sheets, being able to choose between three templates, with different viewing options: selection of the featured images; include excerpts, the status and type of publication, or the quantity and length of the text.
In addition, you can also locate and identify the images of the Feeds while importing them, to show them with or without links depending on the design we have made.
The main features of the free version are described below:
- Possibility of several designs of Feeds (based on CSS) for different parts of the website.
- It has a complete cache control, which maximizes the performance of the connection and access of the Feeds through shortcodes.
- It allows you to categorize and group Feeds based on various parameters (for example, different Feeds on the same topic).
- Automatic creation of affiliate links in those Feeds that include this option, facilitating the monetization of the website.
- Possibility of creating a “black list” of keywords to discard the import or publication of certain types of Feeds.
- Automatic conversion of Feed elements into WordPress posts or pages.
Category Specific RSS feed Subscription
This plugin is completely different from the ones seen previously. While the usual RSS Feed plugins try to import information from Feeds from different websites, it provides users with the possibility to subscribe to specific RSS feeds from a blog category.
Category Specific RSS Feed Subscription is very useful for those blogs that publish a lot of different and properly categorized content, in which the audience is not usually interested in all this content and only needs to subscribe to the category of their interest.
In this way, users are also prevented from receiving too many notifications of publications that, in the end, are not of interest to them, which may motivate them to unsubscribe from our blog.
When installing and configuring this plugin in WordPress, a menu is displayed for users with various subscription options to the RSS feed of the website, in addition to the usual subscription to all RSS Feeds.
Its use, like most of the plugins we are seeing, can be done through shortcodes or widgets.
CyberSEO Lite (CyberSyn)
CyberSEO is a reference plugin within auto-blogging mode, in which imported posts on a website are created from the imported elements of an RSS Feed.
It can be configured automatically, to extract and publish the Feeds by itself, or manually, to control which imported posts are published and which are not.
Between his configuration options, you can extract the full text of an external post (with all its elements), group the imported posts by categories, create labels based on the content, generate thumbnails of the images (which are stored locally), import videos (yes exist in the original post) or set the maximum size of the imported post, among others.
CyberSEO also allows you to import many other types of content, in addition to RSS Feeds, such as CSV, HTML and JSON files.
Here is a summary of its characteristics:
- Import external RSS Feed items and post them to WordPress as blog posts.
- Indicate the type of import, be it the full text, a fragment or an extract, even if the RSS Feed only includes a summary of the original post.
- Assign categories and tags to imported posts, according to the website and source RSS Feed.
- Automatically translate imported posts using Google Translate or Yandex Translate.
Featured Images in RSS for Mailchimp Email
Featured Images in RSS for Mailchimp Email is another plugin with a different operation from the usual plugins, allowing you to design and add images to WordPress’ default RSS Feed.
The added value provided by this modality is that the resulting RSS Feed can be exported to other automatic services that allow Feeds data to be used, improving the visual appearance and user experience, for example, the MailChimp RSS option in Email Marketing campaigns. .
The free version has the following main features:
- Basic design of the visual representation of the image, such as frame, fill, orientation, etc.
- Configure and frame the position of the images in the RSS Feed within the surrounding text.
- Possibility of different sizes for the image, depending on the image types of WordPress.
Installation and configuration of the plugin “FEEDZY RSS Feeds Lite”
After reviewing the most popular free plugins, next we will see how to install and configure one of them.
Depending on the additional features that we want to include in our blog (for example, having widgets or shortcodes), we will decide on one or the other plugin but, in general terms, the general operation is similar among most of them:
- Install and activate the plugin in WordPress.
- Configure the plugin for the RSS Feeds that interest us (either through the panel or directly in a widget or with a shortcode).
- Design a style to display the Feed integrated within the web page and in line with your own design.
In the next video, we see how install and configure FEEDZY RSS Feeds Lite, one of the most complete plugins currently, and with which we can take a look at the usual functions that include this type of plugins:
With the wide catalog of tools, utilities and technologies for connecting and obtaining information from websites, RSS Feeds are still a very valid option to keep up to date with the latest publications and news from our reference websites or blogs.
In addition to being an instrument for a user to centralize from a single point, the RSS feed readerThe collection of articles and news of your interest can also be used to enrich our own website and our blog posts with content.
In this sense, WordPress has the possibility of generating RSS Feed files so that users, as well as other websites, have timely and accurate information on our latest publications, using a web address within the same domain name.
On the other hand, to integrate the publications of external websites within a website, we must use third-party plugins that, in addition to enabling this connection and download of the Feeds, also allow us to configure and design how we want that information to be displayed.
We have at our disposal a wide variety of free RSS Feed plugins for WordPress, and also paid but with free versions with enough functions for most cases, to be able to choose the one that best suits our purposes or the characteristics of our blog.
In this way, we improve the experience of our users, who not only get information from our website, without