RSS feeds and Squarespace 5

When you add a journal page to your site, Squarespace automatically generates an RSS feed for your content. Visitors to your site can add your RSS link to a feed reading application to receive a notification when you add new content. Feed reading applications are common on the web and used by tens of millions of people daily. You can display your RSS link by adding an RSS page, or an RSS widget to your site. If you have multiple journals you can set which feed(s) you would like to display.

Glossary

  • Content syndication - Content syndication refers to providing the content of your blog via a feed -- which is a representation of the content of your site that can be accessed by machines and other automated readers. People using that feed can subscribe to your feed through websites like Bloglines or desktop news readers like NetNewsWire.
  • RSS and Atom - RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and ATOM are the names of two popular formats for syndicating the content of a blog on the internet. By providing access to your blog's RSS or ATOM feed, you enable readers of your site to subscribe to your content via news reader applications. When you update your content, your subscriber's news reader will see the feed change, and allow your subscriber to see your content (and the other content on the web they've subscribed to) in a structured way, from within their reader application, without having to visit your website to check for update
  • XML - XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is the tag-based formatting that your RSS feeds and ATOM feeds are presented in. If you encounter orange XML buttons on various sites you visit, these buttons are referring to the fact that the site is syndicated in XML. XML provides the standard structure that your content is delivered in. RSS and ATOM feeds are frequently referred to as simply "XML Feeds

Does Squarespace create my feeds automatically?

Yes. Squarespace automatically creates ATOM and RSS feeds for your blogs, and embeds these feeds within your blog pages for you. From within most modern news reader applications, individuals can simply enter the URL to your blog, and auto-discovery will pull the embedded feeds into the reader that individual is using.

How can I find the RSS feeds for my Journal page?

XML feeds allow visitors to subscribe to your site content using a news reader application. Within Squarespace these feeds are automatically generated and output in three formats: RSS, ATOM and RDF.

You can locate your journal feeds via Structure Edit mode page configuration. From there you can navigate to the Feeds tab and toggle the format links to select your preferred feed format.  If you are unsure which format to select for your purpose, RSS is the one most widely preferred.

Squarespace also generates feeds for your site comments and site categories to which visitors can subscribe individually. See the next FAQ for more information.

If you want to display a feed and its contents directly in your sidebar, you can review this guide for adding an RSS Social Widget.

Can I have a feed for just one category within my journal?

Yes. You can view your RSS list in the configuration for your journal page. See this guide for accessing your page configuration. In the configuration screen, navigate to the Feeds tab to view the category RSS list for your journal. You can manually link to your category feed to allow visitors to subscribe to category updates.

How do I display these feed URLs to my visitors?

There are a couple of options for effectively drawing attention to your site RSS feeds.

  1. Syndicate/RSS page or widget - Dynamic pages (Journals and Picture Galleries) automatically generate data feeds (RSS Feeds) that can be subscribed to. This page or widget displays a list of your RSS feeds to make it easy for visitors to subscribe using their preferred RSS reader.
  2. RSS Widget - This is a Social Widget we created to allow you to display excerpts from entries in up to 5 unique RSS Feeds directly within your side navigation bar. Refer to our guide on this widget to add one to your own site.
Note: Your journal pages must be visible to the Public in order for your RSS feeds to function and display for subscribers. Restricted journal pages will not publish a visible RSS feed.

How do I set the default title of my feed that displays when someone subscribes?

This is set in the configuration area for your Journal -- see this guide for accessing the configuration for your journal page. The setting is called Feed Title within the Journal XML Syndication Options section.

Why do I see code when I click my Subscribe (RSS) link?

An RSS/subscription feed is not intended to be read by your web browser, which is why you may see code when viewing your feed.

Site visitors can use a variety of methods to subscribe to your feed -- Web services, Internet browsers or desktop readers.

They work sort of like an Internet browser that keeps scanning your site, notifies subscribers when something new appears, and then shows it to them. If a visitor adds the link to your feed to their reader, the reader will regularly scan the content of your journal and broadcast updates to them.

Where can I get a feed reader?

You have many choices when choosing a feed reader, also called a feed aggregator. Modern browsers already have feed/RSS capabilities built-in or you can install an add-on/extension to add this capability. There are many stand-alone software choices you can get or you may already have. You can also use online Web services and access your subscriptions from any computer you have access to with an Internet connection.

Browsers: 

Stand-alone Software:

  • Sitrion (Windows) - Works in Microsoft Outlook 

Mobile Devices

What is the point of providing an RSS or ATOM feed? How is this better than emailing updates?

By providing a feed, you are enabling visitors to subscribe to your site, and receive your updates via their news reader. There are numerous reasons this is far superior to email:

  1. No Spam + Full Reader Control - Because readers get to choose which feeds they're subscribed to, and since no third party can force anyone to subscribe to their content, readers retain full control over the information they see. Email has been completely overrun with spam in recent years, which severely limits your ability to successfully deliver messages to most of your readers (newsletters are filtered by spam filters almost more than they are delivered). By allowing your readers full control, they don't need to entrust you with their email, which is a huge disincentive for signing up to to receive updates from a site.
  2. Greater Exposure - Since it is more accessible and targeted than email, your readership potential is far greater by using XML feeds. It takes less effort and commitment to sign up to receive a feed than it does to commit to a newsletter. You will have more subscribed readers via this syndication mechanism. In addition, some services may operate using an XML feed to access your site's content in a programmatic way.
  3. Targeted Messaging - Readers know to look at their news reader when they want to read. There's no chance your message will be skimmed over in a crowded inbox, where individuals are forced to sort through important messages, real messages, spam, newsletters, and the like. Greater reader control allows more people to easily tie into the content they're interested in on their own terms.

Can I merge all my RSS feeds into one site feed?

Squarespace doesn't currently have a feature to merge feeds on your site, however you can use a third party service like rssmix for this.

Can I replace my Squarespace feed?

Yes. You can do this by accessing the configuration for your journal page.

In the configuration screen, scroll down to the XML Syndication / iTunes Options section, and add the new feed URL to the Fixed Feed URL field.

Note: Taking this action will replace your existing RSS URL, so subscribers to your site will need to update their feed readers to reference the new feed URL.

Why don't video embeds from my Journal display in my feed reader?

Squarespace includes all HTML from journal posts within the RSS feed. However, most RSS readers (Google, Feedburner, Safari, Firefox, etc.) strip away a lot of HTML, including <object> and <script> tags, which means that this will remove video embeds. This is done for security, and it's occurring on the client side -- unfortunately there is no Squarespace setting to change this.

Can I send email updates for my RSS feed?

You can use a third party service to set this up.  After signing up with their service they will give you the code to embed a subscription box into your site.  Once this is added, visitors can sign up for e-mail updates when new content is added to your RSS feed.

You can embed their subscription box into any page of your site that's configured to accept code (click the cog icon in the WYSIWYG editor and add the third-party code), or see the instructions here for adding the code to your sidebar.

How do I know who is subscribing to my feed?

A feed subscriber is just like a visitor who bookmarks your site in their browser. They do not provide personal data when they subscribe, so there is no way to know who they are. See this blog entry for more information on RSS subscriber statistics.

How does Squarespace calculate feed subscribers?

Squarespace is able to give you an estimated subscriber count for your RSS feed by evaluating the number of unique IP addresses we see accessing your feed within a 24 hour period. We also use information provided by Bloglines, Google Reader, and a number of other services to further refine this number beyond what just a unique IP count allows -- resulting in a very accurate view of who is looking at your feed.

The number we report in your dashboard, Feed Subscribers, represents the result of the aforementioned calculation applied to the previous calendar day.

If you need more information on this, please read this detailed Squarespace blog entry.

My RSS subscriber count within Squarespace fluctuates. Are people unsubscribing?

Squarespace calculates your RSS subscribers by looking at the number of unique IP addresses visiting your feed in a given week. Depending on the time of day or day of the week, this number will vary. All unique visitor counts on the web (either via RSS subscribers, or via your traffic statistics) should be treated as estimates.

Will RSS increase my hits?

RSS, over time, will most likely increase the amount of readers to your site -- as it will become much easier for individuals who like your content to keep up to date with what you're doing on your site.

If people can read my entries via my RSS feed, why would they visit my site?

One way to address this concern is by syndicating only entry excerpts to individuals accessing your RSS feed. By selecting the option in your Squarespace Journal configuration to only syndicate excerpts, individuals will have to access your site directly to receive the full stories that they're interested in.

That said, you may still notice that individuals visit your site less now that they're subscribed to your RSS feed -- but that trade-off is quite relative. By providing readers with an RSS feed, you're adding to their convenience, and making it easier for them to contact you and access your content at the appropriate times. In general, by catering to the needs of your visitors, you'll always come out on top.

Can I stop Squarespace from providing these feeds?

Yes, but we're honestly not sure why you'd want to. RSS and ATOM feeds allow your visitors to keep in touch with your content, and as such, it's generally a very good idea to provide these feeds. You can disable this option from your Journal settings.

How can I subscribe to a site using my news reader?

You can subscribe to a blog by using either the URL of the blog you want to subscribe to, or by using a direct link to a blog's XML feed. Just enter either into the add subscription area of your news reader and your feed will be automatically detected and added to your news.

Was this article helpful?
0 out of 0 found this helpful
RSS feeds and Squarespace 5