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What’s a news feed, and what is RSS?

A news feed is a data format which allows people to receive frequently updated content from specific sources they choose. Currently, the most-used type is RSS (“Rich Site Summary” or “Really Simple Syndication”), and although there are other types of news feeds, the term RSS feed is often used as a synonym for news feed.

How are news feeds used?

Here’s how news feeds are typically used. A content provider, such as the person who manages a WordPress site with frequent posts, publishes a feed link on their site. A site visitor can copy this link and add it his feed reader, a program running on his own computer. The feed reader program will then check with the server referenced by that link, and all of the other servers whose links have been added to it, to see if there is new content available. When there is new content, the feed reader downloads it for reading on the person’s computer, or makes it available via a link.

You can syndicate your WordPress site content

Using a feed reader provides a way for people to subscribe to the content of a number of different websites, including yours, if you make it available. Because using a feed reader is popular, and because it’s so easy to syndicate (provide news feeds from) WordPress website content, there’s really no reason not to.

WordPress creates its own RSS feed links automatically

Your WordPress site already has its own built-in RSS feeds; you just need to figure out the correct RSS feed URL(s) for the feed(s) you want to offer your readers. It’s this simple — in the links below, just replace “example.com” with the exact address of your WordPress site, and then provide your site visitors with a that link, maybe using the classic RSS feed icon (shown at the top of this Lesson).

For each type of feed, there is a default feed link and a simpler Permalink feed link. The latter can be used if you have your site set to use WordPress Permalinks, which is very easy (learn about Permalinks.)

Feed links for all new site content:

Default: http://example.com/?feed=rss
Permalink: http://example.com/feed

Feed links for all comments:

Default: http://example.com/?feed=comments-rss2
Permalink: http://example.com/comments/feed/

Feed links for comments on a specific post

Default: http://example.com/?feed=rss2
Permalink: http://example.com/post-name/feed/

Feed links for posts with a certain category:

Default: http://www.example.com/?cat=42&feed=rss2
Permalink: http://example.com/category/categoryname/feed

Feed links for posts with a certain tag:

Default: http://www.example.com/?tag=tagname&feed=rss2
Permalink: http://example.com/tag/tagname/feed

Feed links for a certain author’s posts

Permalink: http://example.com/author/authorname/feed/

Your site visitors who are news feed fans will appreciate it

As you can see, it’s quite simple to provide WordPress news feeds. If your website has a blog or any other regularly-posted content, be sure to provide your readers with at least a basic RSS feed link. News feed fans will really appreciate it.