Over the years, we've relied on RSS feeds for many different tasks.
Ten years ago, we used RSS feeds to create news sites, pulling in articles from multiple different sources.
Five years ago, we set up RSS feeds to automatically send our updates to social media.
Now we still use RSS feeds. In 2020, we use RSS for some of our software projects. Github provides RSS feeds for our plugin releases. We take the release information from Github and import it to our sites to show our changelogs.
RSS feeds are fundamental technology for websites, and they're still useful today. If you want to use RSS feeds with WordPress, check out the WP RSS Aggregator plugin. This is the most popular option for importing RSS feeds into WordPress.
Let me show you how the Free and Pro versions of WP RSS Aggregator.
The Free Version of WP RSS Aggregator
WP RSS Aggregator is available on WordPress.org and has over 60,000 active installs.
The welcome screens for this plugin are really nicely done. You can get up-and-running in just a few steps.
First, the plugin asks you to add the feed URL that you want to show on your site. In this example, I'm using OSTraining's RSS feed for WordPress posts. The plugin willl help you find and validate your feed.
On the second step of the welcome screen, the plugin will show you a small sample of your feed. Click "Create Draft Page" and you will automatically get a new page with the correct shortcode to display your feed.
If you visit your new page, this next image shows what you'll see. The default output has three items:
- A URL for the original article.
- The name of the source site.
- The date the original article was published.
Now that your first feed is ready, the plugin will give you a quick overview of the Pro add-ons. I like the way they do this with a real-life example: CryptoHeadlines.com. This site is a genuinely useful demo of what you can do with WP RSS Aggregator. This plugin imports basic text and links, but also videos, podcasts, fulll articles and more.
If you visit "RSS Aggregator" in your WordPress admin menu, this next image shows what you'll see. Your feeds will be listed here, with key information about when they import, and how many items have been imported.
The Free plugin doesn't have many settings on this screen, but you'll find a lot more options if you click "Templates" in your WordPress admin menu. It is the Templates feature that controls how your feeds are imported and displayed. This image below shows some of the basic settings for a feed template:
The free version of WP RSS Aggregator works superbly if you want to show RSS feeds on your site.
However, if you want to import the full content of your feeds, you will probably need to use the Pro add-ons.
The most useful WP RSS Aggregator add-on for many people is Feed to Post. This add-on imports RSS feeds as WordPress posts. I mentioned some of our own use-cases in the intro to this article. Here are some uses for feed imports:
- Move posts from an old website to a new one.
- Import your Youtube videos.
- Build a content curation or auto-blogging site.
This image below shows some of the extra features added by Feed to Post. You can choose which post type you're importing to, and you can choose the default status, amongst other things:
Feed to Post has a ton more import options, including ones that allow you to control the images, taxonomies, authors and more:
The other Pro add-ons are mostly extra features to support Feed to Post. Here are a couple of examples:
- Full Text RSS Feeds can improve RSS feeds that might not contain all the data you need.
- Keyword Filtering can filter out content. You can use it to remove profanity and keywords or phrases deemed as inappropriate.
One add-on that could be particularly useful for sites that import text images is the Templates add-on. This allows you to control the number of columns and items, plus whether to show the title, image, excerpt, author and more. This image is an example of a Pro template:
Summary of WP RSS Aggregator
I can see why WP RSS Aggregator is such a popular choice.
The Free plugin is cleanly designed, and uses the default WordPress interface wherever possible. There are no obnoxious upgrade banners.
The Pro add-ons provide useful features that build logically on the Free version.
We've started to use WP RSS Aggregator on our own sites, and I can strongly recommend it.