Everything you need to know about WordPress RSS feeds

See how to configure the RSS feed for your blog or website and add it to an RSS feed reader

RSS feeds are a way of following websites and being notified whenever a new post appears. WordPress supports RSS feeds and you can offer them to your readers so they can follow your site.

What is an RSS feed?

An RSS feed is a list of the most recent posts on a website in chronological order. The newest is first and the oldest is last. An RSS feed can contain a brief extract from each post or the full post. It can even contain images.

You probably know that web pages are constructed by using HTML tags to define headings, subheadings, body text, images, and links. An RSS feed is built using tags too, but it uses different ones to HTML.

It isn’t important which tags are used and you don’t need to know them. The one thing you do need to understand is that web browsers often don’t support them. You need an RSS feed reader.

Does WordPress have an RSS feed?

Yes. It is built in and you do not need to do anything to make it available. If you want to see the RSS feed for your WordPress website, go to www.yoursite.com/feed

Several variations of RSS feeds have been created over the years, so for compatibility, the following URLs  also work:

www.mysite.com/?feed=rss
www.mysite.com/?feed=rss2
www.mysite.com/?feed=rdf
www.mysite.com/?feed=atom

It depends on the browser, but you will probably just see a lot of code. If you look carefully you may be able to spot the headings and first paragraph of text for each post. It will look something like this (it goes on and on, so I won’t show it all).

RSS feed code view

There are other RSS feeds, such as:

Comments: www.yoursite.com/comments/feed/
Categories: www.yoursite.com/category/XYZ/feed/
Tags: www.yoursite.com/tag/XYZ/feed/

Replace XYZ with a category name or tag name. Try it on your site. (No spaces in the category or tag name, use whatever your site uses, such as football-teams, not ‘football teams’ with a space.)

Configure WordPress RSS feeds

Although WordPress RSS feeds work automatically, there are a couple of configuration options you should check and customise.

Go to Settings > Reading and there are two items:

WordPress RSS feed settings

Syndication feeds show the most recent: Select the number of posts to appear in the RSS feed. Usually 10 is fine and 5 is the minimum.

For each article in a feed, show: Select Summary because you don’t want to include the full text of posts. The aim of an RSS feed is to provide a teaser, a snippet that gets people interested and wanting to visit your website – links are in the feed.

How do you read an RSS feed?

Suppose you want to follow someone’s website and see the new posts that have been published recently. You would add the RSS feed to an RSS feed reader.

There are RSS feed reader apps that can be run on the computer, but there is no need and these days it is possible to use an online RSS feed reader. Digg is one example.

1 Get a free Digg account

Go to the Digg website and sign up for a free account, then sign in.

Create an account at the Digg website and sign in

 

2 Use the Reader

After signing in to the Digg website, click Reader in the menu at the top.

Use Digg Reader to view RSS feeds

 

3 Add an RSS feed

Click Add at the bottom of the sidebar on the left. Enter your website’s URL or anyone else’s that you want to follow. Follow this site if you want, the URL is https://rawinfopages.co.uk/feed

Add an RSS feed to the Digg website

 

4 Check and add the feed

The feed details are displayed at the top of the page and it can be added to Digg by clicking the Add link on the right.

Add an RSS feed to Digg

 

5 See RSS feeds and posts

The RSS feed you added appears in the sidebar along with all the other RSS feeds you add. Select the feed in the sidebar to see a list of the latest articles.

Tip: Add the RSS feeds for your competitors’ websites so you can keep an eye on them.

RSS feeds in Digg

 

6 Expand a feed item

RSS feeds automatically update and you will always see a list of the latest posts on a website. Click a heading in the list to expand it, and then click the item to go to the website and read the full article.

Expand an item in the RSS feed at the Digg website

 

Share your feed with readers

Just as you add share buttons for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and others, you could add an RSS feed button with your website’s RSS feed URL.

The only downside is not every visitor will understand what an RSS feed is or what to do with an RSS feed button. However, those that know, can add to to their RSS feed reader.

You may need to include a sentence or two explaining that visitors can add the RSS feed to a reader like Digg to follow your website and see the latest updates.

 

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