12 Tips to Optimize Your WordPress RSS Feed (Quick & Easy)

As a WordPress professional with over 15 years of experience, I‘ve seen the rise and fall in popularity of RSS feeds. While not as widely used today, optimizing your WordPress RSS feed is still an excellent way to engage readers, protect your content, and drive more traffic back to your website.

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll provide 12 expert tips to help you customize and optimize your RSS feeds quickly and easily.

Why You Should Still Care About Optimizing Your WordPress RSS Feed

Before we dive into the tips, let‘s discuss why RSS feeds are still worth optimizing:

  • There are still many dedicated feed readers. According to statistics from Feedly, there are over 1 million monthly active users of their feed reader alone.

  • It helps prevent content scraping. Scrapers often target sites via RSS feeds. Optimizing your feed makes your content less scrape-friendly.

  • Improve SEO through sitemaps. RSS sitemaps help search engines index fresh content faster for better rankings.

  • Drive traffic through email subscriptions. Allowing email subscriptions to your RSS feed helps more readers stay updated.

  • Engage segment of audience. Some portion of your audience may prefer consuming your content via RSS.

Now let‘s get into the 12 tips…

1. Create an RSS Sitemap

An RSS sitemap quickly notifies search engines about your latest content. This keeps your site fresher in search results.

I recommend the Yoast SEO or All in One SEO plugins to easily add an RSS sitemap to your WordPress site.

2. Customize Content Before and After Posts

By default, your WordPress RSS feed just shows post content. You can customize what‘s shown before and after posts using the All in One SEO plugin.

For example, add links to related content, email list promotions, author bios, and more. This extra context improves the reader experience.

3. Strategically Protect Against Content Scrapers

Scrapers often target sites through RSS feeds. While frustrating, you can optimize your feed to benefit your own site if scraped.

For example:

  • Add a canonical link tag pointing back to your content
  • Include anchor text links with your target keyword
  • Obfuscate the full text content in the RSS feed

I have a complete guide on preventing content scraping in WordPress with more tips.

4. Show Excerpts Rather Than Full Content

Displaying your full articles in RSS feeds lets readers access the content without visiting your site.

Instead, you can show a summary excerpt in the feed to encourage clicks:

  • In Settings > Reading, change the "For each article in a feed, show" option from full text to summary.

Showing excerpts gives readers a preview, but requires visiting your site for the full article.

5. Add Featured Images to Your RSS Feed

Featured images, or post thumbnails, can make your RSS feed content more visually appealing. However, WordPress doesn‘t add them automatically.

To enable featured images in your RSS feed, use a plugin like RSS Post Thumbnails.

You can also add a snippet of code (I‘ll include an example further below).

6. Combine Custom Post Types Into Your Main RSS Feed

Do you use custom post types like "Resources" or "Deals?" Make sure to add these posts to your main RSS feed too.

In your theme‘s functions.php, use:

function add_custom_post_types_to_feed( $query ) {

  if ( is_feed() ) {
    $query->set( ‘post_type‘, array( ‘post‘, ‘custom_type_1‘, ‘custom_type_2‘ ) );


  return $query;

add_filter( ‘pre_get_posts‘, ‘add_custom_post_types_to_feed‘ );

This combines your default Posts with other post types into one feed.

7. Customize Post Titles

To help readers better identify posts, you can add extra text to RSS titles:

function customize_rss_title( $title ){

  if ( is_feed() ) {

    // Get category name of post
    $category = get_the_category(); 
    $cat_name = $category[0]->cat_name;

    // Add category name to title   
    $title .= ‘ | ‘ . $cat_name; 

  return $title;

add_filter( ‘the_title_rss‘, ‘customize_rss_title‘ );

For example, adding "(Sponsored)" or "(Guest Author)" where applicable.

8. Allow Email Subscriptions to Your RSS Feed

Many readers still prefer subscribing to blog updates via email over a feed reader.

Plugins like MailerLite allow readers to subscribe by email.

You can also automatically send new post emails using Zapier or IFTTT.

9. Highlight Category-Specific RSS Feeds

Each category gets its own RSS feed, but readers may not realize they can subscribe to just certain categories.

Promote your category feeds by adding "Subscribe to RSS" links in category pages and widgets. Help readers customize their feeds!

10. Display Custom Field Data in Your RSS Feed

WordPress custom fields allow you to store extra metadata on posts and pages. This info isn‘t shown in your default RSS feed.

To add custom field data, use:

function add_custom_field_rss( $content ) {

  global $post;

  // Get custom field
  $custom_field = get_post_meta( $post->ID, ‘custom_field_name‘, true ); 

  // Append custom field to RSS content
  if ( $custom_field ) {
    $content .= ‘<div>‘ . $custom_field . ‘</div>‘;

  return $content;


add_filter( ‘the_excerpt_rss‘, ‘add_custom_field_rss‘ );
add_filter( ‘the_content‘, ‘add_custom_field_rss‘ );

This allows you to provide additional context and details to feed subscribers.

11. Delay Posts in Your RSS Feed

It can be helpful to delay posts from appearing in your RSS feed immediately when published.

For example, to give you a chance to preview and correct any errors before subscribers see it.

To impose a 5 minute delay, use:

function delay_rss_feed( $where ) {

  if ( is_feed() ) {  
    $where .= " AND post_date_gmt > ‘" . date(‘Y-m-d H:i:s‘, strtotime(‘-5 minutes‘)) . "‘";

  return $where;

add_filter( ‘posts_where‘, ‘delay_rss_feed‘ );

This also prevents scrapers from stealing content right away.

12. Enable Social Sharing in Your RSS Feed

Since most RSS readers lack sharing buttons, you can add your own to encourage sharing.

Upload social media icons to your media library. Then add the image URLs and links in your feed:

function add_share_buttons_rss( $content ){

  if ( is_feed() ) {

    $facebook = ‘https://example.com/facebook.png‘;
    $twitter = ‘https://example.com/twitter.png‘;

    $content .= ‘<p>‘;
    $content .= ‘<img src="‘ . $facebook . ‘" width="50" />‘;
    $content .= ‘<img src="‘ . $twitter . ‘" width="50" />‘;
    $content .= ‘</p>‘;


  return $content;


add_filter( ‘the_content_feed‘, ‘add_share_buttons_rss‘ );
add_filter( ‘the_excerpt_rss‘, ‘add_share_buttons_rss‘ );

This makes it easy for readers to share your content.

So there you have it – 12 tips to optimize your WordPress RSS feed! Let me know if you have any other questions. I‘m happy to help.

Written by Jason Striegel

C/C++, Java, Python, Linux developer for 18 years, A-Tech enthusiast love to share some useful tech hacks.