After configuring your site’s Writing Settings, the next step is to configure your Reading Settings.
There are only a few settings to configure in this section, but these are very important. Your WordPress Reading settings let you specify what visitors will see on your home page and allow you to configure important syndication and search engine indexing options.
The step-by-step tutorial below shows you how to configure your WordPress Reading Settings.
Configuring Your WordPress Site – Reading Settings – Step-By-Step Tutorial
Click on Settings > Reading in your main WordPress dashboard menu …
(Settings – Reading)
You will be taken to the ‘Reading Settings’ screen …
(WordPress – Reading Settings Screen)
Reading Settings Screen
As mentioned in the introduction section of this tutorial, there are only a few settings to configure in this section, but these are very important.
Let’s go through and show you how to configure these settings:
WordPress Reading Settings – Home Page Display Options
The Reading Settings section lets you decide if you want to display a list of your latest posts or an individual page as your website’s main page.
If you have not created any WordPress Pages for your site yet, then the first option you will see on this screen is the option to specify how many WordPress Posts will display on your home page …
(Reading Settings – ‘Blog pages show at most’ settings)
If your site has at least one WordPress Page, then you will see the following option at the top of this screen instead …
These options allow you to choose what your visitors will see when they arrive on your site via your home page.
WordPress Reading Settings – Displaying An Individual Page As Your Home Page
If you have created at least one page on your website, select one of the following options from the ‘Front page displays’ section:
Your latest posts – Your visitors will see your latest blog posts when they visit your site.
A specific page – Your visitors will be shown a specific page when they visit your home page (e.g. a “welcome” page, or a page with sales copy, e-commerce store catalog page, etc.), much like a traditional “static” website.
The screenshot below shows you the difference between choosing to display a WordPress page vs. displaying your latest posts on your home page …
(Displaying a WordPress page vs your latest blog posts on your home page)
To learn how to set a WordPress page as the main page of your website, see the tutorial below:
WordPress Reading Settings – Displaying Your Latest Blog Posts On Your Home Page
If you have not created a page on your website yet (i.e. you have set up a blog that only publishes posts), then your home page will display your latest blog posts by default. If your website already has pages but you want to display your latest blog posts on your home page, then select Front page displays > Your latest posts …
(Reading Settings: Front page displays – Your latest posts)
You can also specify how many blog posts you would like to appear on your posts page by entering a number in the Blog pages show at most [xxx] posts field …
(You can specify the number of blog posts to display on your home page)
To learn how to set the number of blog posts to display on your blog pages, see the tutorial below:
When users syndicate your feed or view your feeds using a feedreader, what they see on their browser will depend on the option you specify in the For each article in a feed, show setting, as follows:
Full Text – Displays your entire blog post in a feed.
Summary – Display either the excerpt of your post (if you create one), or a teaser containing the first 55 words of your post. (See this tutorialto learn more about using WordPress post excerpts).
Let’s take a look at what happens when you choose the Full Text vs Summary option.
If you select For Each Article In A Feed Show > Full Text …
(For Each Article In A Feed Show > Full Text option selected)
This is what your feeds are going to look like when viewed with a feedreader service …
(Feedreader shows full post text from your RSS feed.)
If you select For Each Article In A Feed Show > Summary …
(For Each Article In A Feed Show > Summary selected)
Then only a summary of your posts is going to display when your feed is run through a feedreader …
(Feedreader service displays post summary from your RSS feed)
While your choice to select either of the above options comes down mostly to personal preference, if you choose to display the full content of your posts in your RSS feeds (by selecting the ‘Full Text’ option), other users can syndicate the entire content of your articles, including software designed to “scrape” (i.e. steal) content, and republish your posts in their entirety. This is how “spam blogs” (also called splogs) get content.
Unless you have a specific reason to syndicate your posts in their entirety, therefore, consider selecting the “Summary” option instead of “Full Text” until you learn how to configure your WordPress RSS feeds to credit you as the original author. This will then automatically create an attribution to every post you publish and post a link back to your site from external sites that syndicate (or even scrape) your content.
To better understand this, take a look at the screenshots below.
Here is what entries in a default WordPress RSS feed look like …
(Default WordPress RSS feed entries)
Here is the same RSS feed with post attributions added …
(WordPress RSS feeds with post attributions)
To learn how to set up RSS feeds with attribution links, see the tutorial below:
The WordPress Reading Settings section also lets you configure settings aimed at discouraging search engines from indexing your site …
(Search Engine Visibility)
Typically, you will want search engines to find your site and index your pages, so you would leave the Discourage search engines from indexing this site box unchecked.
If you check the box to discourage search engines from indexing your site, WordPress adds code to files in your server instructing search engine spiders to ignore your site and stops transmitting information to all of the pinging services you have added to the “Update Services” area in your Writing Settings section, effectively blocking this service.
With search engines discouraged from indexing your site, you will see the message “WordPress is not notifying any Update Services because of your site’s visibility settings” in the Writing Settings > Update Services section …
(You can block WordPress from automatically notifying update services)
You will also see a message on your dashboard reminding you that you have enabled this option …
There may be situations where you may not want search engines to index your site. For example, a WordPress site set up for private use or internal purposes only like training staff, documenting internal processes, testing different plugins, themes, or configurations, or running applications that require a dedicated WordPress site installation.
Selecting the option to discourage search engines from indexing your site doesn’t block out search engines completely. To prevent search engines from indexing your WordPress site or blog requires configuring additional settings. As stated in the ‘Search Engine Visibility’ description, it is up to search engines to honor your request.
To learn how to block search engines from indexing your WordPress site, see the tutorial below:
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Learn about the benefits of using RSS and how to access, format and use WordPress RSS feeds to import and syndicate your content …
No matter what your business provides or what industry you belong to, providing high-quality information to your site visitors is important. For example, if you provide medical services, it’s not a bad idea to include useful information from the health department, such as news and updates on medical research, health and fitness advice, etc.
The problem with creating this type of information, however, is that it requires a huge amount of effort and resources. You have to filter through, research, and organize a ton of data, check your sources for accuracy, write and edit content (or hire someone to do this for you), and then make sure that this information is continually up-to-date. As you can imagine, this not only involves a lot of work but most of the information you are dealing with is entirely beyond your control.
Thankfully, there is a simpler way to keep your readers up-to-date with your information.
It’s called RSS …
(RSS - One of the simplest ways to provide your users with the latest information)
The Ultimate Guide To WordPress RSS
What Does RSS Stand For?
RSS, which, according to some definitions is short for Rich Site Summary, is more commonly known now as Really Simple Syndication. It can also be referred to as a “feed” or “news feed”.
RSS lets content publishers automatically syndicate their content so that their users can read it without having to keep revisiting their site to check for updates.
RSS feeds are typically used to publish frequently updated information, such as new blog post items, news, audios, etc., which other users can choose to subscribe to.
Essentially, an RSS feed is an XML document that includes either full or summarized text along with metadata like published date, author, etc. It allows people to subscribe to content on sites or blogs that publish feeds and then browse any updates posted on these websites through a feedreader. Conversely, RSS feeds also enable publishers to automatically syndicate their content.
Feeds can be made available in different formats and read by different feed readers. Some of these include RSS feeds, Atom (also called AtomPub or APP feeds and RDF (RDF = Resource Description Framework) feeds. All of these formats, however, use a standard XML file format to ensure compatibility with different machines, feed readers, and programs.
Many sites and software tools also let you combine several RSS feeds to aggregate news and updates sourced from different websites.
This detailed guide explains where your RSS feed is located, how to syndicate your content online using RSS feeds, and how to add someone else’s content to your site using their RSS feed.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Feeds
Content syndication is a really powerful (and legitimate) way to share content online. Feeds provide a way for web users to stay up-to-date with the latest information posted on sites and blogs they are interested in.
First, let’s take a look at syndication.
Online newspapers and many popular online publications rely heavily on content syndication to publish stories from news agencies around the world.
Content syndication allows news reporting agencies and many influential media publications to deliver readers the most recent newsworthy items from all around the globe without having to post additional news staff everywhere around the world …
(Media publications use syndication to publish content from news sources all around the world.)
Syndication is a legitimate method of sharing content with other sites. online media publications syndicate their information using feeds …
(News reporting agencies syndicate news stories using news feeds)
Most websites actually want you to syndicate their content. Syndicating content not only allows information to be shared, but it can also drive visitors back to the original site responsible for creating and publishing the content being syndicated. This can be an effective way to generate web traffic.
Most digital news publishing agencies and major sites have an RSS feed section (look for links in their navigation menu that say “RSS” or “Newsfeeds” in them, or just search for “name of site/keyword + rss” – e.g. “nytimes rss”, “courier rss”, “sydney morning herald rss”, etc.) …
(Most online newspapers and major online media publications include a feed section. Source: smh.com.au )
Clicking on a site’s RSS links section brings up a list of RSS feeds for different content areas of the site …
(RSS feeds directory. Image: NY Times)
These feed items give readers access to content from different sections of the site (e.g. technology news, entertainment news, jobs, etc.)
Feed sections can also include subcategories …
(Feed sections can also include subcategories. Source: latimes.com)
Note: A feed is only a URL. All you need to do to use RSS feeds is copy the URLs and paste these into an application that can translate the feed into something readable. We’ll cover this further below.
Using Feeds – Benefits
Syndicating someone else’s content on your site has some obvious benefits. It not only gives someone else’s site additional exposure online, it also adds value to your site without you having to create that content …
(The Benefits Of Content Syndication)
While adding a feed from another site is a great way to add content to your site that you don’t have to create, it’s a great idea to try and get other sites to syndicate your content.
When other websites syndicate your content, this gives you the opportunity to gain increased exposure online and drive new web traffic …
(Try to get users to syndicate content using your RSS feed … it will help to increase your traffic!)
WordPress Feed – Overview
WordPress automatically publishes a feed of your posts, allowing other online users to syndicate your content on their websites.
Depending on which theme you have installed, there are a number of ways to get your RSS feed:
1) If your theme allows the Meta widget to be displayed in a navigation menu, scroll down to the Meta section and click on Entries RSS …
(Access your WordPress RSS feed from the Meta section)
2) You can also find links and buttons on certain themes that allow your visitors to copy your feed.
In the screenshot below, for example, a visitor can copy the RSS feed URL by right-clicking and copying on the Subscribe to RSS link …
(Copy RSS links to your clipboard from “subscribe” buttons)
3) On many sites and again, depending on the WordPress theme you have installed, you can find the RSS feed displayed in a Follow Us, Links, or Social Share fixed, slide-out, or floating toolbar …
(Look for an RSS button in a a Links, Subscribe, or Share slide-out, fixed, or floating toolbar)
4) You can also view your WordPress feed by typing your site’s URL into a web browser and adding “/feed” after the URL, e.g.:
http://www.yourdomain.com/blog/feed (if your site is located in a subfolder, e.g. “blog”)
Using any of the above methods will bring up your RSS page …
(Feed items seen on a Firefox web browser)
Note that your feed items will display differently depending on the browser you are using …
(RSS items viewed on a Google Chrome browser)
Specify Number Of Items To Display On Your RSS Feed
To specify how many items you would like displayed in your RSS page, go to your Reading Settings section and type in the number of items to show in the “Syndication feeds show the most recent” field …
(Reading Settings – Syndication items)
Your feed section will display as many recent items you have specified in the Reading Settings section …
(The feed will display the number of items you have specified in your Reading Settings section)
Display Full Text Or Summary Of Posts In Your RSS Feed
Another setting in your WordPress Reading Settings section that affects your feeds is whether to display each article as full text, or a summary …
(WordPress Reading Settings – ’For each article in a feed show’: ‘Full text’ or ‘Summary’)
As mentioned earlier, all you need to do to view a feed’s content is to copy the feed’s URL and paste it into a feedreader, i.e. an application that can translate feeds into readable content for humans.
Let’s see how this works.
First, go to a website whose feed you want to subscribe to and search for an RSS feed button using any of the methods described earlier …
(Look for an RSS feed icon. Image source: YourCoffeeGuru.com)
Next, copy the feed URL to your clipboard …
(Copy the URL of your feed)
If you want, you can check the feed content by pasting the URL of your feed into an online feedreader …
(Paste the feed URL into a feed reader to view the content. Image: Feedreader)
Like feed readers, WordPress has the ability to process RSS feeds.
How To Add RSS Feeds To WordPress Sites
Let’s show you how to add RSS content from another website or blog to your WordPress site.
Adding RSS Feeds To Your Sidebar
As mentioned earlier, no matter what industry you operate in, you could add to your site the latest updates from an industry-related government department or authoritative site in your industry by simply adding content from their RSS feed. You can easily display a range of information on your WordPress site like news, Facebook comments, or content from thousands of sites using the WordPress RSS widget.
Let’s add RSS content to the WordPress sidebar …
(Add an RSS feed to your sidebar)
copy the RSS feed from a site that publishes content that you want to add to your site to your clipboard …
(Copy the feed URL to the clipboard)
Next, paste the feed into a new RSS widget …
(Widgets Section – RSS Widget)
To learn more about adding content to sidebars using widgets, go here:
With POWr RSS Feed, you can combine and display content from various RSS feeds.
This plugin also lets you display videos, images, and article content, adjust the priority of different feeds, use custom fonts, borders, colors, and more. It is also mobile responsive and supports text in all languages.
The premium version of this plugin contains a number of additional features.
The WP Pipes plugin is a powerful data migration plugin that lets you create curate content from RSS feeds, Google News, and many other sources.
This plugin provides loads of features like CSV importing for posts/WooCommerce, RSS feed creator, auto blogging, auto post to Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter, export posts as podcasts, create Google XML sitemaps, and more!
FeedWordPress provides flexible syndication for WordPress.
As stated in the FeedWordPress website …
FeedWordPress is an open-source Atom/RSS aggregator for the WordPress blog publishing platform. You set up feeds that you choose, and FeedWordPress syndicates posts from those sources into your WordPress posts table, where they can be displayed by your WordPress templates like any other post — but with additional meta-data, so that your templates can properly attribute the post to the source it came from.
You can use this FeedWordPress to create aggregator site (sites that display posts from various different sources), or display all your online activity (e.g. from your blog, LinkedIn, YouTube, or other online services, in one place.
Autoblog is an easy-to-use plugin that can be set-up very quickly, with no coding required and no complicated instructions. Simply copy and paste in the URL of your feed, name your feed (for admin purposes) and select the blog that you want it to post to.
In addition to giving online users access to RSS feeds of your posts, WordPress also makes available RSS feeds of comments posted on your site.
You can see this by clicking on Comments RSS in the ‘Meta’ widget area of your sidebar (note: this section may not be visible on some themes) …
All the comments posted on your site by visitors will appear in your Comments RSS page …
(RSS comments feed items viewed using Firefox)
Like post entries, your comments feed content will display differently depending on which browser you use …
(Comments feed items seen on a Google Chrome browser)
Again, you can check the feed content by pasting the URL of the feed into a feed reader …
(Paste your comments feed URL into a feed reader to view the content. Image: http://feedreader.com/online)
Note: If the Meta section is not displaying on your theme, you can view the Comments RSS section of your site by opening up a browser and typing in the following URL:
http://www.yourdomain.com/blog/comments/feed (if your website has been installed in a subfolder, e.g. “blog”)
Tip #2 – Displaying Feeds For Individual Items
Being able to select an RSS feed for individual post items can be useful. For example, you may want to add feeds from specific posts to RSS aggregator sites, or you may have created a valuable resource that other online users will want to syndicate.
The formula for making an RSS feed for individual post items is shown below:
(Feed For Individual Post)
To create the above feed, copy the URL of your post, and append “/feed/?withoutcomments=1” to the end.
(Single Post RSS Feed)
Note:By default, if you only append “/feed” to the end of the URI of your post, WordPress will return the comments associated with your post, not the content of the post itself.
Tip #3 – Category RSS Feeds
Some your site users may only want to subscribe to content from one or two post categories. They may not want to subscribe to your entire site’s feed.
With WordPress, you can easily create category feeds.
Just use the format below:
(Feed format for category)
Select and copy the category link address to your clipboard …
(Select and copy your category URL …)
Append the word “feed” to the end of it …
(WP post categories RSS feed format)
Your feed now only contains content posted for this category …
(Category-specific RSS feed page)
The WordPress Codex also provides different ways to create feeds not just for post categories, but also feeds for tags, authors, search, etc.
For this example, let’s create a feed for a specific post category using the format shown below:
You can customize your RSS in a number of ways, such as adding videos and images to feeds, ads, etc. Some of these customizations require code editing skills.
WordPress allows a number of RSS feed configurations without touching code. Here are some examples of custom feed formats you can use on your site and how to structure your feeds …
(WordPress RSS – Feed Types)
For your convenience, here are the different feed types, descriptions, and feed examples shown above:
Feed Type: All Posts
Description: Content feed – displays your latest entries
Example Feed: http://yourdomain.com/feed/
Feed Type: All Comments
Description: Comments feed – RSS feed that includes the latest comments left on your blog
Example Feed: http://yourdomain.com/comments/feed/
Feed Type: Individual Posts
Description: RSS feed that includes single post entries
Example Feed: http://yourdomain.com/post-title/feed/
Feed Type: Individual Posts Comments
Description: Displays the latest comments made on single post entries
Example Feed: http://yourdomain.com/title-of-blog-post/feed/
Feed Type: Archives
Description: Day – Displays latest post entries in each archive
Example Feed: http://yourdomain.com/2017/09/28/feed/
Feed Type: Archives
Description: Month – Displays latest posts in each archive
Example Feed: http://yourdomain.com/2015/03/feed/
Feed Type: Archives
Description: Year – Contains latest items in each archive
Example Feed: http://yourdomain.com/2010/feed/
Feed Type: Search Results
Description: Contains the latest post entries for a search query
Example Feed: http://yourdomain.com/search/term/feed/
Feed Type: Custom Post Type
Description: Includes latest entries for a custom type (e.g. book)
Example Feed: http://yourdomain.com/feed/?post_type=book
One more thing …
Remember to promote your feeds. Make sure you place your ’subscribe to RSS’ links in a visible location …
(Promote your feeds!)
Keep in mind that other website owners will only want to subscribe to your content if you publish useful information that educates, engages, and entertains. In other words, you need to provide high-quality information that will add value to their sites and benefit their users.
(Add great content to your site and get others to share your content using WordPress and RSS!)
RSS Graphics – Visit a site like Iconspedia or search online (e.g. “free RSS icons”, “rss buttons”, etc.) for sites that allow you to download RSS graphic elements.
RSSBoard.org – The RSS Advisory Board is an independent organization responsible for publishing the RSS specification, providing guidance to developers who create RSS applications and broadening general public understanding of RSS.
WordPress Codex – WordPress software documentation and information. Go here for additional information about using feeds in WordPress.
Congratulations! Now you know where to find your WordPress RSS feed, how to syndicate your content online using feeds, and how to display content from other sites on your site using RSS.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of issues that can affect your web site and how WordPress can help you build a better business online. To read more about using WordPress for a business web site please click on links to visit other posts we have published on this site.
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