RSS (Rich Site Summary) was invented to make sharing feeds of content from an external site really simple. Still, it can’t be easily done with WordPress right out of the box. And why should it? That’s why we have plugins.
Introducing WP RSS Aggregator
WP RSS Aggregator was built in order to accommodate this need. The plugin allows you to add any number of RSS feeds to your site, then output them on posts and pages using a shortcode. You can set a limit of how many posts to show for each feed, and then choose which feeds to output using the shortcode parameters.
Adding a feed is pretty simple. Just add the URL of the feed, and it will start pulling in posts. The settings for the plugin let you choose how many items should be stored at once, how frequently the posts should be updated, and enable you to tweak the plugin’s default output. You can also set a new RSS URL for your own site that includes all of the feeds for easy syndication.
Fast and Frequent
The default output for WP RSS Aggregator is a mix of all of the feeds you’ve imported, organized by date. But, you can easily make changes to how many posts to show, and from what feeds, using a couple of shortcode parameters.
The plugin uses SimplePie, a PHP library, to render the RSS feeds, and update the feed using WordPress’s wp-cron—which you can edit on the plugin’s settings page. Since all of the data from the feeds is rendered server-side cached and stored, and updates occur automatically, there isn’t much you have to do after the plugin is setup. This setup means the effect on performance on your site will be fairly minimal—even though the RSS feeds are updated as frequent as once an hour.
You can edit the content of your feeds by tweaking either the global options for the plugins, or by editing the feeds one by one. For instance, you can change the amount of posts each feed is pulling in, or make changes to add-ons, which I will get to later. No matter what changes you make though, you will see the effect take place immediately on the front-end of your site. This allows you to make changes quickly.
And, if you’re having problems seeing effects take place, there is a debugging panel where you can delete and re-fetch all of your feeds with just two buttons. Or, you can do this for individual feeds in the “All Feeds” menu. The bottom line? WP RSS Aggregator has been around since the beginning of 2012. Since then, they’ve been able to tweak their product to meet customer needs and keep things nimble.
The plugin itself is free, but there are a couple of premium add-ons that can extend it’s functionality. I won’t go into the details of all of them, but they allow you to do things like keyword filter the feeds, create categories to group together the posts, and add excerpts and thumbnails to the feed. For each add-on, there is a custom set of options to tweak its output and functionality.
The newest add-on is called “Feed to Post” and it allows you to create, what’s sometimes known as, an autoblog. The add-ons pull in the full content of individual RSS feed items to create individual posts—essentially reposting it. I’m a little wary about technology like this, as it can be used to maliciously duplicate content across the web. Worst of all, this can harm great posts that were stolen by other sites. Of course, we have to blame implementation here, and I think this is a conversation for a different post. But please, use this add-on responsibly.
If you’re looking to incorporate RSS feeds into your site, WP RSS Aggregator can certainly get the job done and I feel confident recommending it.
How do you share feeds of content?
Jay Hoffmann is a WordPress developer hailing from NYC. In the strictest sense of the word, he is a WordPress enthusiast with an eye for front-end development and design. He has been working with WordPress since 2006 and currently works for a popular children’s media company. This year, Jay started Tidy Repo, a curated list of the best and most reliable plugins from around the web. You can also follow Jay on Twitter.