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How to Set Up RSS Feeds

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 3/6/2011

If you're interested in adding an RSS feed to your website, understanding the basics of such a feature will come in handy.

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    How Do I Set Up an RSS Feed?

    Having an RSS feed on your website is a great way of informing subscribers about updates to your content. All they need to do is subscribe to your feed and then add it to a reader (which might be their browser, a dedicated aggregator, an email client or a web-based service) and new content will be sent through to be read.

    Setting up an RSS feed can be complicated, and requires a basic understanding of some of the concepts concerned with XML. Creating a static RSS feed is a useful exercise in understanding this, but isn’t much use long-term as a substitute for a dynamically created RSS feed, so other tools should also be considered.

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    Example RSS Data

    The accompanying image displays a single item with the appropriate headers for this author’s RSS feed here at Bright Hub. You will see that there is a header area (everything from <?xml version… down to <channel>) and a content area.

    You can use the data below to create your own RSS feed. This should be copied and saved to a plain text editor (such as Notepad if you’re using Windows) and saved as testrss.xml.

    Where I have bolded specific data below you will need to supply your own information.

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

    <?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="STYLESHEET URL" media="screen"?>

    <rss version="2.0" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/" xmlns:slash="http://purl.org/rss/1.0/modules/slash/" xmlns:wfw="http://wellformedweb.org/CommentAPI/">

    <channel>

    <title>WEBSITE TITLE</title>

    <link>RSS FEED URL</link>

    <description>FEED TITLE</description>

    <language>en-US</language>

    <item>

    <title>ARTICLE TITLE<title>

    <link>PAGE URL</link>

    <pubDate>DATE OF PUBLISH</pubDate>

    <author>AUTHOR NAME</author>

    <description>DESCRIPTION TEXT<description>

    </item>

    </channel></rss>

    How to Set Up an Rss Feed Once you have created and saved the document, upload this to the root of your FTP server and then open it in your browser. The results should resemble the image on the right. (Click for a larger view.)

    With an RSS feed set up, new content added to your website can then be added to the feed. However if you’re doing this manually you will effectively double the amount of time it takes to update your site. As such you will need a means of automating the process, and the best way of doing this is to use a dynamic, database-driven website instead of a static site.

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    How to Set Up an RSS Feed on a Blog

    If you’re using popular blog software such as WordPress or Blogger, you will already have an RSS feed available to you within the software – no additional files are required.

    For instance in WordPress, your RSS feed would likely be:

    www.mywordpressblog.com/feed

    WordPress is really good with RSS – it allows you to have feeds for various categories, tags and authors:

    • www.mywordpressblog.com/category/interviews/feed/
    • www.mywordpressblog.com/tag/tagname/feed/
    • www.mywordpressblog.com/author/authorname/feed/

    How to Set Up an RSS Feed on a Blog Meanwhile Blogger users would find that their RSS feed looks something like this:

    http://myblog.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss

    For other blog or content management software you should be able to find the URL for the RSS feed by using a browser like Firefox which will display an RSS icon in the corner of the Address bar (also known as the Location bar in that browser). This is a clickable icon, and will display a selection of options, as displayed in the accompanying image (right).

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    References

    Source: Author's own experience

    Screenshots provided by author.