How to Set Up a News Aggregator with WordPress (2023)
January 11, 2016
News aggregator websites, whatever niche they may be for, offer the best way to sift through the ridiculously large amount of news that is published every hour. Curating the news for a specific niche or market gives readers a single location where they can find all the information they need.
There are plenty of great news aggregators out there, from the likes of Alltop to the Drudge Report. Sites like these are tremendously successful because they focus on 4 key areas:
They use a simple design that is easy to navigate and read. Whether you’re on a desktop computer or your mobile phone, they’re easily accessible everywhere.
The aggregatedcontent can be sorted and filtered in various ways, from topics to sources.
They aggregate news from a variety of trusted sources, ensuring that they reach as wide an audience as possible without sacrificing quality.
All the news is attributed to the original source, ensuring that they are not stealing content from anyone and the original writer gets the credit they deserve for their own content.
We Live in a World where Content is King
We’ve all heard the saying by now: “content is king”; whether you’re tired of hearing it or not, it still holds true. However, you don’t want just any content; it has to be good, quality content that provides value.
In the fast-paced world of social media, we’re bombarded by new content every second – some of it good, some of it bad. It’s almost impossible to keep up with everything that’s going on in the world, and the same can be said for the WordPress community.
There are so many great WordPress resources out there nowadays that are constantly bringing us the latest news or publishing great tutorials that it has become a job in itself to keep up with all of them. You need some way to keep track of all these incredible sources without it becoming a hassle. That’s where content aggregation comes in.
Hence the Birth of WP News Desk – A News Aggregator for WordPress
WP News Desk is a WordPress site that provides you with all the latest WordPress news from around the world. It curates the latest posts from over 100 of the top WordPress websites: WordPress blogs, news sites, ecommerce blogs, personal blogs, and tech blogs with a category dedicated to WordPress. It also includes a separate section dedicated to WordPress podcasts that is regularly updated with all the latest episodes.
WP News Desk began as a means of showcasing the power of the WP RSS Aggregator plugin and its add-ons, while also providing you, the WordPress blogger, enthusiast, developer, or whatever you might call yourself, with a central space where you can keep up to date with all the latest happenings in the WordPress blogging sphere.
Although similar aggregation sites already exist, we wanted to create a news aggregator that streamlined the sources to only the best ones out there, ensuring that you only get the very best quality content that’s published across the web (in relation to WordPress, of course).
The process of creating the WP News Desk site wasn’t a hard or long one. In fact, WP RSS Aggregator simplifies it tremendously since the majority of the time will actually be taken up by the content curation itself. Here are the steps we took to put it all together.
When building a news aggregator website, you’re going to be curating a lot of content, possibly with a lot of images and a lot of traffic, so a reliable host will be very important.
At WP Mayor, we recommend WP Engine’s Startup hosting plan for news aggregators. We’ve worked successfully with them for many years and have hosted multiple aggregator sites with no trouble whatsoever. That’s why we collaborated with them to give you 4 months off their annual plans!
WP Engine has been a constant recommendation here on WP Mayor. Every website we have hosted with them has been smooth sailing all the way. Get 4 months free all annual (or 20% off monthly) shared…Show More
WP Engine has been a constant recommendation here on WP Mayor. Every website we have hosted with them has been smooth sailing all the way. Get 4 months free all annual (or 20% off monthly) shared hosting today. Starting at just $20/mo. Show Less
If you don’t have the budget to spend around $300 a year on hosting and would rather start with something cheaper, we recommend Bluehost. They provide top WordPress hosting at more affordable prices.
Once you’ve chosen a hosting provider and set up your website, it’s time to get started.
Install WP RSS Aggregator and its Add-ons
As I’ve already mentioned, the WP News Desk news aggregator runs on the WP RSS Aggregator WordPress plugin and its add-ons. It makes use of the Pro Plan for its main aggregating functionality.
The Feed to Post add-on is what allows us to import the feed items from RSS feeds as WordPress posts and have them displayed within our blog, while the Full-Text RSS add-on is used to bring in the featured images for those sources that don’t provide them within their RSS feeds.
Activate the License Keys
Once the plugins are installed, it’s important to add the license keys for the premium add-ons. This is important to keep receiving updates and support, but it’s also a requirement for the Full Text RSS Feeds add-on to work.
Set Up the General Settings
Next, it’s time to select the General Settings. In this case, we went ahead and set an age limit of 2 months that will be applied to all sources unless told otherwise in the feed source’s settings, and we also set a Feed Processing Interval of 2 hours, meaning new posts are fetched every couple of hours.
Apart from that, the Feed to Post settings were also set to the options that we wanted to be applied to all feed sources as they were created. The most important ones included setting the Post Type to blog posts, using canonical links, setting the author to use to be the one provided in the feeds, and setting the featured image thumbnail to be the first image in the content, with a fallback to the feed image as a last resort.
Set Up the Categories
To ensure that you’re kept up to date with every bit of WordPress news out there, we decided to introduce podcasts into the mix too, so we created a separate news feed within WP News Desk that caters only for WordPress-related podcasts.
This was done using the normal WordPress post categories. In fact, all that was needed here was to create the categories required for the sources we intended to include, and we could then apply them to the various sources individually.
You can also make use of the Keyword Filtering add-on to control, import, and store only feed items that contain specific keywords in the title or content, or with specific categories or tags to further streamline the categorization process.
Apply Some Customizations
In order to get the desired behavior in all areas of the site, we used our WP RSS Aggregator filters. These allowed us to make all the imported posts’ titles link directly back to the original source. This was always our intention since we wanted the original authors to get all the credit (and traffic) that they deserve.
All it took was adding a filter to the theme’s functions.php file, along with another filter that allowed us to remove the Podcasts category from the regular blog and display it in a separate section of the site.
WP RSS Aggregator is designed to work with any WordPress theme. Using templates, WP RSS Aggregator allows you to create many styles of displays that can be used anywhere on the site. Just select the template to use, choose the sources to show, and you’re all done. This can be done in the page builder via both our Gutenberg block and shortcode. You can even include feeds in your sidebar or other widget areas!
Add the Feed Sources
The final step for WP RSS Aggregator was to add the feed sources, apply the individual settings for each source, occasionally add a fallback featured image for those sources that don’t always include an image within their post’s content, and then publish the feed sources to start importing the posts.
That was it for setting up WP RSS Aggregator. The feed sources would now have their latest posts fetched every so often, and the WP News Desk blog would continue getting updated for as long as the plugin is running.
Step 2: Add Complimentary Plugins
Besides WP RSS Aggregator, we also opted to install a few other plugins that would allow for the smooth running of WP News Desk. First of all, in order to ensure that WordPress, the plugins, and our themes are kept up to date, we installed the Advanced Automatic Updates plugin.
Quick Featured Images is a plugin we often use alongside WP RSS Aggregator as a means of adding a featured image column to the Posts list. This allows us to quickly identify which posts and sources have no featured images set in order to be able to rectify it as quickly as possible.
Since we wanted feedback from our visitors while also giving them a chance to suggest new sources, we opted to install the free Ninja Forms plugin, and it works great. Yoast SEO was then our go-to option to take care of the website’s SEO options, and BackupBuddy takes care of performing backups. Last but not least, Jetpack allows us to keep track of our site stats and does a few other minor tasks too.
Step 3: Launch the Site
All that was left now was to launch the site and to start letting the world know about it.
At this point, you could be thinking that this might just be a one-time job – a set it and forget it kind of site. Well, no, I don’t believe any website could be that way.
While we have already curated the sources whose posts are displayed on WP News Desk, it still requires some curation and attention in order to keep it running smoothly and consistently.
The response to WP News Desk has been great, with multiple visitors getting in touch to either suggest a source or let us know what they think about the site. At this point, I feel that it’s important to point out that, as explained on WP News Desk itself, we’re not importing content from other sources to make it seem like our own (i.e., stealing it), but the exact opposite.
The WP RSS Aggregator plugin allows us to import all new posts to WP News Desk, display them within the blog with the source name, author name and publish date all clearly shown, and all the while always linking back directly to the original post.
As soon as a visitor clicks on a post title, featured image, or metadata, that person is taken directly from the aggregator site to the post on the original source’s website. This ensures that the authors get the credit they deserve while also providing the original source with the traffic it earned.