Customizing separate WordPress feeds

Note: If you’re using Google’s Chrome browser, you need to add the RSS Subscription Extension.

There are lots of WordPress plugins out there that have been built for feed customization and syndication, but most of them serve scrapers who pull others’ content to populate their Adsense sites. But if you run an honest website and you create content that’s related to different topics, it’s not a bad idea to offer your readers category, author, or tag-specific feeds. WordPress makes this easy.

For example, this website started as a hobby blog. With cyberspace being in a virtual land rush, I staked a claim on my name several years ago. After denying a few requests from other Chad Chandlers out there who wanted to buy it, I thought I’d throw a blog on the domain. The site originally existed to keep my out-of-state family apprised of my activities. Most of the content involved cooking, woodworking or sightseeing. I still blog on those topics, even though I’ve taken the site in a more professional direction.
 

Why have more than one feed?

I publish a professional feed for people who want advice about marketing and PR. You can check it out here. These people don’t want to be inundated with pictures of my latest hike or the filé gumbo I made over the weekend. Although I use my hobby blog to create the content, I import a category-specific feed to feedburner and then push that feed to the world. That way the people who want serious posts about marketing aren’t annoyed by more frivolous content.

 

How do you do it?

All WordPress sites automatically publish four feeds right out of the box:

http://example.com/?feed=rss
http://example.com/?feed=rss2
http://example.com/?feed=rdf
http://example.com/?feed=atom

 
If you’ve customized your permalinks, it looks like this:

http://example.com/feed/
http://example.com/feed/rss/
http://example.com/feed/rss2/
http://example.com/feed/rdf/
http://example.com/feed/atom/

 
Let’s build on these and use my site as an example. Let’s say there’s a woodworking forum out there that aggregates carpentry content. I have a lot of posts about carpentry, but they only come up when I have projects around the house. In the meantime, I’m cranking out posts about cooking, marketing, and travel. No one on the woodworking forum wants to see that, so they’ll likely deny my general feed. But if I specify the feed category or tag, they’ll only see posts that are related to carpentry. I can either submit my category of “woodworking” or my tag of “carpentry.” All it takes to make that happen is to add this code at the end:

http://chadchandler.com/category/woodworking/feed
http://chadchandler.com/tag/carpentry/feed

 

Why does this matter to non-bloggers?

If you read blogs that post on several categories, you can assemble the feed code yourself to isolate the content you want to import into your feed reader. But we can also delve deeper than that. What if you read group blogs like Techcrunch or Wired, but only really want to posts by certain authors. Just apply this template to their feed and that’s the only content that will pull into your reader:

http://example.com/author/authorname/feed/
 
How easy is that? There are plugins that make it easy to display your category feeds via widgets, but you really don’t need a third-party to help you publish specific feeds. Just choose a couple that are your most popular and let your readers choose.

There’s more information about feed specification in the WordPress Codex.

Customizing separate WordPress feeds
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