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 content syndication and WordPress SEO options.
The step-by-step tutorial below shows you how to configure your WordPress Reading Settings.
How To Configure Your WordPress Settings – Step-By-Step Tutorial
Click on Settings > Reading in your WordPress menu …
(WordPress Settings Menu – Reading)
This brings up the ‘Reading Settings’ page …
(WordPress – 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 home 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.
An individual 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 specify a WordPress page as the home 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 posts you would like shown 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 specify 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 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 option selected)
Then only a summary of your posts is going to display when your feed is run through a feedreader …
(Feedreader shows post summary only)
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:
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 sells or what industry you are a part of, it’s vitally important to provide high-quality information on your site or blog that better educates, informs, or improves engagement with your visitors. For example, if your business provides insurance-related services, it’s a good idea to provide users with useful information from government departments, such as news and updates on statistical research, insurance advice, etc.
The problem with providing this kind of information, however, is that it is very time-consuming. 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 continually ensure that this information is kept up-to-date. As you can imagine, this is not only a lot of work but most of the information you are dealing with is completely beyond your control.
Thankfully, there is a simpler way to provide your site readers with expert, up-to-date information.
It’s called RSS …
(RSS is one of the simplest ways to provide your readers with great information)
The Ultimate Guide To WordPress RSS
RSS – Basic Definition
RSS, which, according to some definitions is an acronym for RDF Site Summary, is more commonly known now as Really Simple Syndication. It can also be referred to as a “feed” or “news feed”.
RSS allows content publishers to automatically syndicate their content to save readers time from having to keep revisiting their site to check for updates.
RSS feeds are typically used to publish frequently updated information, such as blog post items, news, video lists, etc., which other users can choose to subscribe to.
You can view an RSS feed with web-based, desktop-based, and even mobile-based software programs called feed readers, or feed aggregators. Aggregators are used to access new content published on websites and syndicate this content to many online properties.
Feeds can be made available in different types 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 that feeds are compatible with different machines, readers, and programs.
Many sites and software applications also let you combine many RSS feeds to receive news and updates from many different sources.
In this comprehensive guide, you are going to learn how to find your WordPress RSS feed, how to syndicate your content online using RSS, and how to display content from other websites on your site via RSS.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Feeds
Content syndication is a very powerful way to share web content. RSS Feeds provide online users with a simple and easy way to stay up-to-date with the latest information published on websites and blogs they are interested in.
First, let’s look at syndication.
Digital news publishers rely on syndication to publish newsworthy content from other news agencies all around the world.
Syndication allows most digital content publishers and leading online media publications to deliver readers up-to-the-minute news and newsworthy content from all around the globe without having to post more reporters and content writers everywhere in the world …
(News reporting agencies and leading online media publications rely heavily on content syndication to publish newsworthy stories from other news agencies around the planet.)
Syndication is a legitimate way of sharing content with other sites. Content agencies syndicate news stories using feeds …
(Content syndication is used by news reporting agencies to share information with other publications)
Most sites actually want you to syndicate their information. Content syndication not only allows information to be shared, but it also drives 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.
Leading online newspapers provide links to 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”, “nz herald rss”, “sydney morning herald rss”, etc.) …
(Many online newspapers and major sites have a feed section. Image: smh.com.au )
Clicking on a site’s RSS links section brings up a list of RSS feeds for different content topics on the site …
(A directory of feeds. Image: nytimes.com)
These RSS feed items let readers source different areas of the site (e.g. business news, travel news, lifestyle magazine, etc.)
Feed sections can also include further subcategories …
(Feed sections can also contain feed subcategories. Source: latimes.com)
Note: An RSS feed is only a URL. All that’s required to use an RSS feed is copy the URL and paste it into software that can process the feed into something readable. We’ll cover this further below.
The Benefits Of Syndicating Content
Syndicating someone else’s content on your website has some obvious benefits. It not only gives additional exposure online to someone else’s site, it also adds value to your site without you having to create that content …
(Syndicating Content Benefits Someone Else’s Website And Yours!)
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 worth keeping in mind that you also want other sites to use your content.
When other websites and blogs syndicate your feed, this gives you the opportunity to get more exposure online and drive more web traffic …
(Get users to syndicate content using your feed … it will help drive more traffic to your site!)
WordPress Feed – Overview
By default, WordPress automatically publishes a feed of all your posts, allowing other online users to easily syndicate your content on their sites.
Depending on your theme, there are a few ways to access the WordPress RSS feed:
1) If your theme allows the Meta widget to be displayed on your navigation menu, just scroll down to the Meta section and click on Entries RSS …
(Meta widget – Accessing your RSS feed)
2) You can also find links or buttons on certain WordPress themes that let your visitors copy your feed.
In the screenshot below, for example, a visitor can copy the RSS feed URL by clicking on on the Subscribe to RSS link …
(Copy feed URLs to your clipboard from “subscribe” buttons)
3) On many websites and again, depending on your WP theme, you can find the RSS feed displayed in a Social Share, Follow Us, or Link To Us toolbar …
(Look for an RSS button in a a Follow, Links, or Social Share floating, slide-out, or fixed toolbar)
4) You can also view your RSS 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 WP site installation is in a subfolder, e.g. “blog”)
Using any of the above methods will bring up your RSS feed page …
(Feed items as seen with a Firefox web browser)
Note that your feed page will display differently depending on the browser you are using …
(RSS feed items seen with Google Chrome)
Specify Number Of Items To Display On Your RSS Feed
You can specify how many entries you want to show in your RSS Feed page, by going to your Reading Settings section and entering the number of items to show in the “Syndication feeds show the most recent” field …
(Reading Settings – Syndication items)
The feed will show the number of posts as you have specified in your Reading Settings section …
(Your feed will display as many recent items you have specified in your Reading Settings section)
Display Full Text Or Summary Of Posts In Your RSS Feed
The other setting in the WordPress Reading Settings section that affects your RSS feed is whether to display articles in the feed as full text, or just a summary …
(Reading Settings – Show ‘Full Text’ or ‘Summary’ for posts in a feed)
Post Excerpts can also affect how the content in your feed appears …
(Post excerpts can affect how a feed will display)
We have created a detailed tutorial on Post excerpts here:
As mentioned previously, all you have to do to view a feed’s content is to copy the feed’s URL to your clipboard and paste it into a feedreader, i.e. an application that can read and translate feeds into readable content.
Let’s see how this works.
First, go to a website whose content you want to subscribe to and look for their RSS feed link …
(Search for an RSS feed section. Image source: http://www.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 feed URL into a feedreader …
(Paste your URL of your feed into a feedreader to view the content. Image Source: Feedreader.com)
Like feedreaders, WordPress also has the ability to process RSS/XML feeds and convert these into content that is readable by humans.
Adding Feeds To WordPress
Let’s show you how to add content sourced from another website or blog to yours.
Adding An RSS Feed To Your WordPress Sidebar
As mentioned earlier, no matter what industry you operate in, you can easily display on your site the latest updates from an industry-related government department or authoritative site in your industry simply by importing their feed. You can use RSS feeds to display a range of information on your WordPress site like news, Facebook updates, or content from thousands of sites using the WordPress RSS widget.
Let’s add RSS content to the WordPress sidebar …
(Let’s add an RSS feed to the WordPress sidebar navigation area)
First, Go to a site containing content that you would like to add to your site and copy its feed URL …
(Copy the URL of your feed to your clipboard)
Next, go to Appearance > Widgets and paste the feed into a new RSS widget …
(WordPress RSS Widget)
To learn more about adding content to sidebars using widgets, go here:
With POWr RSS, you can combine and display content from a number of different RSS feeds.
This plugin also lets you display videos, images, and articles, adjust feed priority, use custom fonts, borders, colors, and more. It also displays feeds correctly on any tablet, computer, or phone and supports text in any language.
The premium version of this plugin contains a number of additional features, such as the ability to display different feeds, manually accept or reject posts, and more.
WP Pipes is a powerful data migration plugin that lets you curate content from RSS feeds, Google News, and other sources.
This plugin provides features like CSV importing for posts/WooCommerce, RSS feed creator, auto blogging, auto post to Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter, export posts as iTunes podcasts, create Google XML sitemaps, and help take your WordPress CMS to new levels.
FeedWordPress is a versatile Atom/RSS syndication plugin for WordPress site-generated content.
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 plugin to create aggregator sites, or bring together all of your online activity in one place.
Autoblog is an easy-to-use plugin that can be set-up in minutes, 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.
WordPress makes available RSS feeds of your latest post comments in addition to displaying RSS feeds of your posts.
To see the comments in your feed, go to the ‘Meta’ section on your sidebar menu (note: your theme may not be configured to display this widget) and click on Comments RSS …
(WordPress Comments RSS)
Comments posted on your site by visitors and users can be seen in the Comments RSS page …
(RSS comments feed items viewed using a Firefox web browser)
Like post entries, your comments feed items will display differently depending on which web browser you use …
(Comments feed items displayed with a Google Chrome web browser)
Again, you can check what the feed contains by pasting the feed URL into an online feedreader …
(Paste your feed URL into a feed reader to view the feed content. Image Source: Feedreader.com)
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 WP site installation is in a subdomain, e.g. “blog”)
Tip #2 – Using Single Item RSS Feeds
Being able to select an RSS feed for an individual post item can be useful. For example, you may want to add feeds from specific items to RSS directories, or you may have created a valuable resource that other online users will want to syndicate.
The formula for creating an RSS feed for individual posts is shown below:
(Specific Post Feed)
To create the above feed, copy the URI of your post, and add “/feed/?withoutcomments=1” to the end.
(Single Post RSS Feed)
Note:By default, if you only append “/feed” to the end of your post URI, WordPress will return the comments associated with that post, not actual post content itself.
Tip #3 – Using Category Feeds
Some your site visitors may only want to syndicate content about certain categories. They may not want to subscribe to your entire site’s feed.
With WordPress, you can create individual category feeds.
Just use the format below:
(Feed format for post categories)
Select and copy the category URL to your clipboard …
(Copy the category URL …)
Append the word “feed” to the end of it …
(WP category RSS feed format)
Your RSS feed now only contains content published in that 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:
WordPress.org – WordPress software documentation and reference. Visit this site for additional information about WordPress RSS.
Congratulations! Now you know where your RSS feed is located, how to syndicate your content online using feeds, and how to add content from other websites to your site via RSS.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of issues that can affect your website and how WordPress can help you expand your business online. To read more about the benefits of using WordPress for a business website or blog please click on links to visit our related posts section.