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What is RSS? How to use RSS in WordPress?

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What is RSS? How to use RSS in WordPress?

As a WordPress publisher you must have come across RSS Feeds. Each WordPress website automatically publishes RSS feeds for content and comments. Did you ever wonder what is RSS and how you can use RSS in WordPress? In this article we will explain what is RSS feeds, what are the benefits of RSS, how to use RSS feeds, and how to take your WordPress RSS feeds to the next level.

Video Tutorial

If you don’t like the video or need more instructions, then continue reading.

What is RSS

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary however it is often referred to as the feed or news feed. In the early days, if you wanted to keep track of updates on your favorite website, then you had to bookmark it in your browser and manually visit it frequently to see if there were any updates. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could tell your favorite websites to let you know every time they update? Well, this is exactly what RSS does. RSS allows users to keep track of their favorite websites without having to manually visit the website each time.

RSS allowed publishers to automatically syndicate their content, so that people can read it in their mailboxes, feed reader and/or other devices. RSS is basically an structured XML document that includes full or summarized text along with other metadata such as published date, author name, etc. RSS feeds can be read by using programs called “RSS reader”, “feed reader”, or “aggregator” which can be web-based, desktop-based, and even mobile-based. Here is what an RSS feed looks like:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<channel>
<title>WPBeginner</title>
<link>http://www.wpbeginner.com</link>
<description>Beginner's Guide for WordPress</description>
<lastBuildDate>Tue, 02 Apr 2013 14:13:37 +0000</lastBuildDate>
<language>en-US</language>

	<item>
		<title>How to Fix WordPress Posts Returning 404 Error</title>
		<link>http://feeds.wpbeginner.com/wpbeginner/</link>
		<pubDate>Tue, 02 Apr 2013 11:58:18 +0000</pubDate>
		<dc:creator>Editorial Staff</dc:creator>
		<category><![CDATA[Tutorials]]></category>
		<guid isPermaLink="false">http://www.wpbeginner.com/?p=10968</guid>

		<description><![CDATA[<p>Description of post goes here...]]></description>
		<content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>Post goes here....]]></content:encoded>
		</item>

Many Web Content Management Systems such as WordPress has built in support for RSS feeds. By default each web page you publish using WordPress contains a meta tag that points to your website’s RSS feed location. You can disable RSS feeds in WordPress, but continue reading and you might change your mind about disabling them.

What are Benefits of RSS

RSS makes it easier for other people to subscribe to your content. Using an RSS feed, they can receive updates from your blog or website directly in their web browsers (except Google Chrome), feed readers, desktop applications, and many other devices and services. Subscribers don’t have to remember your website URL because they can bring the content into a central location where they like to read all of their websites at once. Your content becomes portable and your subscribers can even take it with them for offline reading.

RSS feeds also help build and nurture a loyal following around your website and content. RSS subscribers are more likely to share your content around their social circles and spread the word about your website. A lot of our readers automatically tweet every new WPBeginner article that come out using RSS feed and IFTTT.

By using RSS feeds, you can subscribe to your favorite websites and read them all at one place in your feed reader. As a content publisher, it helps you quickly scan through your favorite news and blog sites. It also enables you to sort your reading lists into categories and groups. By using RSS efficiently, you can really maximize your reading time.

How to Use RSS Feeds

You can subscribe to RSS feeds using a feed reader. We recommend using Feedly, It is available as a browser add-on as well as mobile app for iOS, Android, and Kindle devices. By using Feedly, you can sync your RSS subscriptions across your devices and resume reading wherever you left it. Adding your favorite websites to Feedly is really simple, just enter the url of the website and click the add button to subscribe.

Subscribing an RSS feed by entering the URL of a website

In most feed readers you can search for topics that interest you and subscribe to popular sources on those topics. You can also categorize your favorite sites into topics. Feed readers such as Feedly come with features to print, share, and email articles that you find interesting.

Categorize your reading list into topics

How to Promote your RSS Feed

As a WordPress user your website already publishes an RSS feed. You can encourage visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed by adding an RSS icon to your sidebar or another prominent location. Here is how we do it on WPBeginner:

Display an RSS icon in your blog's sidebar

Burn your RSS feeds using a feed burning service like Feedburner or Feedblitz to get additional statistics regarding your feeds. We have a step by step guide to setup Feedburner for WordPress. Feedburner also offers email subscription box which you can add to your blog’s sidebar. But since there is a little bit uncertainity about the future of Feedburner, you might want to consider using other options to create daily or weekly newsletter in WordPress. Besides FeedBurner email subscription options are not very robust which is why we recommend using either Aweber or MailChimp.

Take your WordPress RSS Feeds to Next level

WordPress automatically generates your RSS feeds, but this does not mean that you don’t have control over them. You change certain things in your RSS feeds to make them more useful for yourself and your subscribers. You can add content and completely manipulate your WordPress RSS feeds. You can add post thumbnail to RSS feeds, or use separate RSS Feeds for categories and custom post types in your templates.

We hope that this article helped you understand what is RSS feed and how to use RSS in WordPress. Don’t forget to subscribe to WPBeginner’s RSS Feed to receive free WordPress tutorials and advice. For questions and feedback please leave a comment below.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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Comments

  1. Rebeca says:

    Hello,
    I have a problem. I’m trying to use my feed in mailchimp but it says that it is not useful. I have verified my feed and the page says that the problem is that there is a blanc space in line 1, before an XML text, you can see the document here:

    I cannot add my feed in mailchimp due to that blanc space and I don’t know how to quit it.

    Could you help me?

    Thank you.

  2. Yatharth Singh says:

    Thanks for the Help ! was searching for category wise feed and landed here.
    thanks again ! syed :)

  3. Amobi chuks says:

    Please, this shows anytime i want to check my feed URL :

    Client doesn’t support feeds.

  4. Danny says:

    I want to place on the site backlink , which began edit CSS code that I comment is. Can you help me?

  5. 360jamz says:

    Please I knw this before but my example.com.ng/feed says u can’t connect to the server how can fix the issue

  6. wiziwiz says:

    It can also be used to populate the subcriptions to newsletters

  7. Harshad Patankar says:

    How to I find my RSS subscribers to my blog

  8. Sheryl Opie says:

    Very helpful thank you.

  9. Leo says:

    FeedBurner has been deprecated a few years ago. Take a look at Better RSS Feeds, it’s a WordPress plugin that styles your RSS feed and adds subscription links.

  10. Kerrie Redgate says:

    I am still very confused by all this. Everywhere I go on the net I am told WordPress sites already have RSS and I just have to put a button somewhere. I don’t get this at all. Surely the button needs some code behind it for my particular site, or a plugin or something. It is nowhere to be found.

    I really just want to know how to *set up* an RSS button on my blog. This has been the most challenging thing I have ever encountered in WordPress. There is no basic instruction on this. It is always about how other people access the feed, but not how I set it up.

    PLEASE! HELP!!

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Here is a sample code that you can paste in a Text Widget on your site.

      <a href="http://www.example.com/feed/"><img src="http://example.com/wp-content/uploads/your-rss-feed-icon.png" alt="Subscribe to RSS Feed" /></a>
      

      Replace example.com with your own domain name. Also replace /wp-content/uploads/your-rss-feed-icon.png with the RSS feed icon you want to use. You can upload the icon by visiting Media » Add New. Hope this helps.

  11. Gaurav Singh says:

    Hello Everyone,
    A problem with not followed feed links is showing in my google webmaster tool and if i going to open mysite.com/feed then nothing showing.
    Please help me…

  12. Matt says:

    Hello, this is usefull article, but I still have an issue.

    Is there a way to block certan twitter user from being subscribed to my blog feed?
    This guy pretends to be me, and my posts are automatically posted on his twitter.

    How can I protect myself from such people?

    (I have reported this to twitter but they do not respond)
    This guy have even my domain listed like he is the owner.
    Is there some plugin or htaccess code to block just one twitter account from accessing my feed/rss or however he is doing this?
    Thank you WP beginner

  13. Sirisha says:

    My site is have issues with RSS, which I am not able to figure out. My site is not producing any RSS feed. In the widgets, when I use RSS feed URL this is showing an error message “RSS Error: WP HTTP Error: Too many redirects.”. There are two problems:
    1) RSS feed is empty.
    2) RSS URL is showing the error message “RSS Error: WP HTTP Error: Too many redirects.”

    Can you please help me, if you can figure out what the issue is.

    Settings=>General=> both site URL and WordPress URL is point to the following URL:

    Thanks In Advance,
    Sirisha

  14. Murphy233 says:

    Your guides are helpful, but they would be better if you avoided all the options. Like many others I much prefer a single simple set of instructions for a simple basic setup. After that you can add all the extra flavors and choices. that you are promoting. Otherwise I just give up and look for guidance elsewhere

  15. Hyip says:

    Nice article. Just wonder how to sort the imported feed not by the date but by a specific content inside. For instance the feed include word “I am the 1st” then it will be shown as the 1st position. Thanks for your advise..

  16. Kenneth Brosas says:

    Before my site would show the rss feed when I tried to visit www . yoursite . com / feed .. Now it always says redirect loop

  17. Vera says:

    Hello,
    I am not embarrased to say I didn’t know what RSS meant. Thank you, now I have some order in it.
    However, I still do not understand how to MAKE the site I am managing to send RSS. You put a code piece here of what it looks like. Where should it be found? Did I miss you directing to it?
    Also, I seem to have some sort of RSS feed running (as I said, I do not know how it does it, or how to control it). It just sends one line of text over the mail to all members, stating that there is a new entry, no links, no theme, nothing.
    How can I control what and when it sends? for instance, not to send on post edit?
    This stuff is really confusing to me.
    Thank you,
    Vera

    • Chase says:

      Hi Vera,

      I was wondering if anyone responded to your questions. I had many of the same questions you had. If you were able to get some answers, would you mind passing them along? Thanks!

      Chase

  18. Stephanie says:

    What is my RSS address?

  19. Vishesh Kachheda says:

    I thought i knew what is RSS very well, but actually knew what is RSS after reading the post!
    Thank YOU :)

  20. Peter Beal says:

    Let’s face it – having knowledge does not in anyway guarantee the ability to pass that knowledge on! In other words, there are so many ‘tech’ people who always assume that everybody in the world speaks their language (techno-babble) – wrong.

    You people on the other hand, make sure you speak in a manner that novices and newbies like me can easily understand – Praise Be!

    Please keep up the VERY good work and never forget that your current style of explanation makes it possible for everyone to enjoy learning WordPress.

  21. David Tolbert says:

    Thanks for this article. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know what RSS meant. I’ve been feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by the difficulty of developing a website to market my practice, but reading your articles is overcoming all that and helping me see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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