Set up a News Aggregator on Your WordPress Blog

If you’re looking for a way to add more content to your WordPress blog, it’s fairly easy to incorporate a Google News-style aggregator into your site.

News aggregator for WordPress blogs
A news aggregator can broaden the scope of your WordPress blog

There are numerous plugins that allow you to syndicate RSS and Atom feeds from elsewhere on the web, and publish the content as posts inside your own WordPress blog.

Why syndicate other people’s content on your WordPress site?

Whether this is a good idea depends on the kind of blog you have. Any kind of news, current affairs or opinion blog could probably benefit from some external content, as long as it’s relevant and complementary to whatever you are writing about. Syndicating content on your blog allows you to:

  • Offer your readers a quick reference point for related news.
  • Increase the frequency of your blog updates and supply more content than you’re able to create yourself.
  • Build your blog’s authority as a credible and comprehensive source of information.

Remember to always clearly differentiate between your own content and someone else’s. It’s always a good practice to link back to the original website whenever you publish a syndicated article.

Beware the menace of duplicate content

Filling your site with recycled content from elsewhere on the web can negatively effect your SEO and drive down your search rankings. If it appears to Google’s all-seeing eye that your site doesn’t offer much (or anything) in terms of unique content, you’re not going to rank well.

Matt Cutts (head of Google’s Webspam team) explains a bit more about duplicate content in this video.

The easiest way to avoid getting penalised is to noindex your syndicated feeds, which hides them from the search engine bots and ensures that Google only picks up your own unique content. There are different ways of doing this, but its best to check the user documentation for whichever aggregator plugin you’re using.

As an afterthought, you should never let aggregated content from other sites overtake your own blogging. People come to your site to read your content, so make sure that remains the focus of your blog. An aggregate source of related content is just a little bonus you can offer your readers, and an incentive to keep them on your site longer.

How to get started

There are a tonne of plugins out there for adding syndicated feeds to your WordPress site. FeedWordPress and WP-o-Matic are two well-known examples. If you want to publish syndicated content on multiple blogs across your WordPress Multisite network, check out Autoblog from WPMU Dev.

Feature picture courtesy of Colleen AF Venable.

15 Responses

  • Hi Tim
    I run an aggregation site (aka SEARCH ENGINE) in wordpress – scrollpost.com – and I see it as my objective – which I am still trying to achieve – of adding value for the user even if the content is duplicated.

    Anyway I say Google has damn chutzpah to frown on other sites doing what it does. Google exists on other people’s content, no? Who gave them a monopoly on the privilege?

    Cheers
    Jack

  • Something else people should consider is that sites that don’t *want* to be aggregated can (and do) sue for violating their copyright terms. If you consume too much content from another site, or if it fails any of the other tests for fair use, your re-use can get you in deep trouble.

    I’ve assisted several clients with shutting down violators that use these methods to clone content without authorization, usually by getting the assistance of their host or upstream provider with a DMCA request.

    Bottom line: while this is an effective way to pursue content, do so without putting your site, business or self at risk. Make sure you’re in compliance with the posted copyright notices of sites you consume and ensure that you don’t consume ‘too much’ of any particular article.

    • Hi Shawn,

      You raise a good point. Copyright violation is always something you need to be aware of when publishing RSS feeds on your blog.

      It’s very true that reproducing an entire article on your blog, word for word, could constitute a violation of the author’s copyright. The safer and more ethical alternative is to only publish the standard RSS excerpt, with the title and the first few sentences of the article, which then links back to the original article if people want to read more.

      Cheers
      Tim

      • i dont think sharing text is in violation with the copyright law!! please !!

        thats why its called sharing ;-) not imitating !! it has nothing to with copyright

        when apple bringsout an ipod (the original product) and in china another company bringsout a cheap imitation of it and calls it epod, thats in violation with copyright

        sharing is not !!!!!!

        stop acta !!!

        • There is no definition in copyright law for “sharing”, but there is for “copying”, and that is where this argument falls down. It’s like penalty vs tax – while you may intend for “sharing” to mean something other than “copying”, it *is* copying and is subject to copyright law.

  • Sounds like you’re not too fond of the law, Jack.

    I understand, but all the same, if you were to copy my content in violation of my copyright I would file a DMCA notice with you and your host, too. And cloudflare, as a US company, would be legally obligated to comply. And since you’re using a domain privacy service (which are total crap for forward contact messages), you likely wouldn’t even know it were filed until your site was inaccessible.

    In any case, if that comment is your idea of “adding value” then I can’t imagine why Google would see you as a threat.

  • Well, Shaun, I would imagine that you would first ask me to remove the content, no?
    And if I respected your wishes, what’s the problem?
    I am only publishing RSS feeds. And there is no secret about the source of the content. And I link back.
    AND many of the publishers seem very happy about it and have been linking to my site.

    Your problem, Shaun, is you are a moralist without an issue, making assumptions about people and there motivations.

    And you never responded to my main point – who gave Google the part of god here as they are the number #1 republishers of other’s content. Or are you just too chicken to criticize google?

  • You’re missing the point, Jack.

    My initial comment was providing advice in a “CYA” fashion. Complying with the law is one of those things that most people consider a big deal.

    Based on your statements here, I can only assume that you’re the kind of guy that downloads thousands of mp3’s through p2p networks, and expects the RIAA to simply forgive and forget when he inevitably gets caught. In the real world, they aren’t going to waste their time making multiple unnecessary (and legally debilitating) attempts for your legal compliance. They’re going to get the only information they can obtain and begin legal proceedings immediately.

    The reason I never responded to your “main point” is because I wasn’t actually talking to you – and didn’t until my last post, and that was only after you had the audacity to insult me for trying to “add value” to this post. Good job.

    How about I reply, now? Google is an actual search engine, not a directory, and they don’t wholesale republish information, but provide contextual snippets…and they comply with the law. Your site is a directory, like DMOZ, and there are a number of reasons that it’s not going to place well, but the most important one is that even if it did, there isn’t ANYTHING above the fold that changes from page to page. “Real” visitors aren’t going to link to a site like that. Search engines today 1) don’t particularly care for directory sites, and 2) don’t index sites that nobody links to, and 3) almost no content exists on your deep pages. Sure, they link to each other, but there is so little content different (less than 175 words/20% of your content) from page to page (that is, when the links actually work) that it doesn’t provide enough content for engines to find interest in. You may as well be posting lorum ipsum.

  • Excuse me. Please send the RIAA my way, only for the satisfaction that they would be wasting their time.
    I am an old guy and still own records.

    Like I said before you are making wild assumptions about me and my motivations.

    Otherwise you’ve made some good points.

    You are missing the BIG point regarding me though. I am running an aggregation/search engine about Middle East Politics. I am pulling in information/opinions from many countries authored by people with diverse backgrounds.

    ScrollPost gives the reader easy access to this content and in no way hinders the reader from visiting the source. The point is for the reader to be exposed in real time to these sources and the benefit to the content creator is to have his/her material exposed to a wider audience. I am looking for every way to add value. Otherwise I have been wasting my time.

    Anyway the NYT is doing the exact same thing – http://www.blogrunner.com/
    And BTW, it looks like they copied my idea…

  • Hi there

    Is there any plugin or hack that I can use to display multiple RSS feeds on my WordPress site?

    For example, how do I display news excerpts from CNN, Reuters, NYT, etc?

    Possible to display specific feeds based on keywords? For example, Pinterest?

    Would be most grateful to get an answer as I have been searching high and low for the past week.

    Thanks in advance.

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