The Power of RSS Feeds in WordPress

Want to up your RSS feed game? RSS feeds are valuable as much more than a tool to subscribe to other blogs’ content. You can also use them to enhance your WordPress site in a variety of ways.

Want to up your RSS feed game? RSS feeds are valuable as much more than a tool to subscribe to other blogs’ content. You can also use them to enhance your WordPress site in a variety of ways.

And in this post, I’m going to dig into a few of those ways in which you can use RSS feeds proactively, rather than just as a method to let your readers subscribe to your WordPress site.

Let’s get going…

Quick Recap: What is an RSS Feed?

If you’re not already familiar with RSS, short for Really Simple Syndication, here’s a super quick refresher to get you up to speed. I’m keeping this brief because we’ve already written about RSS in more depth.

An RSS feed is basically an automatically updating feed of a site’s content in a standardized format that’s easy for you to consume.

For example, a blog’s RSS feed would contain its latest posts. And for each new post on the blog, the RSS feed automatically updates to include the latest post.

So Is RSS Just for Subscribing to Other Blogs?

If you ask an average person what RSS is good for, they’ll probably follow along with the previous example and tell you that RSS is just for subscribing to a blog’s content. And that’s true – subscribing to content is one awesome use for RSS feeds. But RSS feeds aren’t just for reading blogs.

If you’re running your own website, RSS feeds open up a whole new range of functionality for your site. Here are some of the reasons why that’s so…

Most Sites Still Have an RSS Feed – Tons of Flexibility

Here’s the thing:

While people frequently associate RSS with blogs, RSS is used by many other types of websites.

In fact, there’s a good chance that the average website does have an RSS feed (excluding static sites, of course).

Here are a few examples of the types of sites that offer RSS feeds that aren’t just regular old blogs.

  • Amazon offers targeted RSS feeds of its products.
  • You can create an RSS feed for all the latest photos from an Instagram account.
  • You can similarly create an RSS feed for any Facebook page.
  • Besides Amazon, many other eCommerce stores offer RSS product feeds.
  • Many events sites offer an RSS feed for all of the latest events.
  • You can generate RSS feeds for specific YouTube channels.

And there are plenty of other smaller examples as well.

As you can see, the variety of sites is plenty diverse. As long as you have the wherewithal to find a site’s RSS feed, you can use RSS feeds to manipulate a huge variety of content. Speaking of…

There Are Lots of Things You Can Do With RSS Feeds

Because an RSS feed is just a formatted feed of content, you can actually work with it in a number of ways. Yes, one of those ways is using an RSS feed reader to stay abreast of the latest content at your favorite blogs.

But you can also use RSS feeds on your own website to automatically pull in content.

For example, if you’re using WordPress, you can pull in any type of RSS feed as either a list of content or even unique WordPress posts.

Here are some of the things that allows you to do:

  • Import products from sites like Amazon or other eCommerce stores as WordPress posts.
  • Showcase an event feed to keep people up to date with what’s happening
  • Aggregate content from other sites into one place
  • Showcase your or someone else’s Instagram or Facebook feeds
  • Display your latest YouTube videos as posts on your WordPress site

an example of using rss feeds in WordPress

You can even find guides for some niche uses like how to create a news aggregator, a medical news site, a sports news network, and lots more.

The only thing you’ll need is a way to work with and manipulate RSS feeds. That’s where a plugin like WP RSS Aggregator comes into play.

How to Work With RSS Feeds in WordPress

For this section, I’m not so much concerned with the RSS feeds created by your WordPress site, but rather how you can use other sites RSS feeds in WordPress to enhance your own site.

If you need to bring in content from RSS feeds, WP RSS Aggregator is one of the easiest ways to do that.

WP RSS Aggregator is a free core plugin that comes with a variety of paid add-ons that boost its feature list with added functionality.

In the free version, you can import RSS feeds as basic lists. If all you want to do is, say, display headlines of the latest news about your company, the free version is plenty powerful.

But if you’d like to get more advanced, the paid add-ons offer some neat functionality like…

Import RSS Feeds as WordPress Posts

With the Feed to Post add-on for WP RSS Aggregator, you can import RSS feed items as actual WordPress posts. Because each feed item is a separate post, you have a great deal more control over how your feeds work.

You can import feed items to specific categories or custom post types and they’ll be there forever, rather than the short-term feed offered in the free version.

For even more control, you can tack on another add-on like…

Filter the RSS Feeds That You Import

If you don’t want to indiscriminately import every single item in an RSS feed, WP RSS Aggregator’s Keyword Filtering add-on lets you, unsurprisingly, apply keyword filtering to the content that you import.

You can either choose certain words that must be in a feed item, or you can choose to exclude certain feed items that contain a specified word or words.

This add-on is most helpful when you’re creating a niche-specific website where you don’t want there to be any risk of extraneous content.

What If An RSS Feed Just Offers Excerpts?

One problem that you might run into with RSS feeds is a situation where the RSS feed that you’re trying to import content from only offers an excerpt. What if you need the full text for some reason?

To make that happen, you can use WP RSS Aggregator’s Full Text RSS Feeds add-on. This add-on lets you bring in the full text even if the RSS feed only offers an excerpt.

Wrapping Things Up

While RSS feeds might be most known as an easy way for people to subscribe to content, you can also use them in a variety of ways to enhance your own WordPress site. You can pull in products to sell, showcase your social media content, promote upcoming events, and lots, lots more.

The only thing that you’ll need to work with RSS feeds in WordPress is a plugin that can handle RSS feeds for you. For that, you should check out the free version of WP RSS Aggregator, as well as premium add-ons like Feed to Post, Keyword Filtering, and more. You can even save some money on all of the add-ons that I mentioned by purchasing the WP RSS Aggregator Advanced Feeds Bundle starting at $150.

Colin Newcomer
Colin Newcomer
Colin Newcomer has been using WordPress for over a decade and is on a quest to test all 58,075 plugins at WordPress.org.

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