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Category Feeds with WordPress and Feedburner

April 21, 2009

(Note: This is now an old post, as you will see from the WordPress version mentioned. I am not sure how well these steps will work with more recent WP upgrades. We also changed to FD Feedburner plugin rather than Feedsmith and no longer use individual category feeds.)

I’ve been working today on re-organising and configuring my partner Chris’s blog, Chris Chats. He needed RSS feeds set up for individual categories – and I learned that this is NOT an easy thing to do if you are using Feedburner, as we are!

I’d set up Feedburner and Feedsmith for both our blogs – which are self-hosted installations of WordPress 2.7. This was a relatively painless process that worked very well for the main blog feed and comment feed.

GRRRR Moments with the ComputerHowever, as we then found, Feedburner & Feedsmith don’t ‘play nice’ in the sandbox with WordPress if you want separate feeds for different blog categories or tags. Every feed must be individually set up in Feedburner – and at first I just couldn’t get this to work at all!

Extensive web searching, lots of WordPress tweaking, much growling and many ‘DUH!’ moments later, I finally worked it all out, and the new system is now operational.

In case the tips and steps I learned along the way are handy for any other newbie bloggers like Chris and myself, who are also using Feedburner, I thought I’d share them here.

  1. Click on “Permalinks” in the WordPress admin area and change this to one of the available settings.  The default WordPress setting doesn’t use permalinks and URLs look like something like this: http://chrischats.com/?p=34  These links won’t work to create feeds in Feedburner – each category requiring its own feeds needs its own permanent URL – ‘permalink’ in WordPress.
  2. Check out Using Permalinks on the WordPress.org website. This was the most useful resource I found to explain how the permalink structure works and how to make relevant changes. I chose the setting /%category%/%postname%/ which was recommended on several sites.
  3. If you already have one permalink setting in WordPress (as I did in my own blog), and wish to change to another without breaking all the links you have so enthusiastically shared elsewhere on the web, the Redirection plugin is a must-have. :)
  4. After establishing a suitable permalink structure for your blog, visit the category page(s) on your blog for which you need to create a feed. Copy the URL and enter it into Feedburner with /feed added to the end. For example, using the above permalink setting, Chris’s category for his Tai Chi Posts became http://chrischats.com/category/taichitips/  which I then entered into Feedburner as http://chrischats.com/category/taichitips/feed
  5. Install this Feedburner Feedsmith plugin, which includes a fix that allows configuration of individual category feeds within WordPress itself. A process that’s easy for non-techies, such as myself – particularly when compared with the various .htaccess or .php modifications I read about elsewhere. :-)
  6. Hung Out To DryGrab the category feed link that you created in Feedburner, return to the  plugin in WordPress, and enter that URL against the relevant blog category.
  7. Finally, you may like to consider either the Category Specific RSS Feed Subscription plugin or the Extended Categories widget. There may be others out there, but I found either of these worked very well to provide the list of category specific rss feeds in the widget sidebar.

Voila! All done, dusted and hung out to dry. And that’s easy for me to say … now! :-)

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith Bell April 30, 2009 at 2:10 am

Absolutely brilliant. Thank you very much.

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Sue April 30, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Hi Keith,

I’m delighted you found it helpful. :-) It was certainly a learning process for me!

I can see why you wanted the category feeds for the Policy Monitor Canada site too – a long list! :-)

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Sebastian August 24, 2009 at 7:21 am

Awesome. Thanks a million.

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Sue August 24, 2009 at 10:59 am

Hi Sebastian. Delighted it was helpful for you. :)

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Devin November 22, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Thanks for the post. The link to Feedburner Feedsmith plug-in hack was invaluable. I just wrote about this process as well, but with the added bonus of podcasting. Thanks for pointing the way.

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Sue December 2, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Hi Devin – I’m delighted it was helpful. The link you added to your comment didn’t work (the tags were in place but not the URL) so I visited your blog and found what I hope is the correct article to fix the link above for you. :)

I also enjoyed reading some of your other posts and was interested in what I read about Thematic Framework. We use Thesis for our sites and blogs (for which I’m webmaster) and are very happy with it. But Thematic Framework also looks as though it would be a great option!

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Devin December 2, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Thanks Sue. Definitely give Thematic a go. It doesn’t have all the theme options of Thesis, but it’s a great framework for developing sites.

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Sue December 4, 2009 at 9:59 am

Thank you – I will take a closer look at Thematic. Particularly when we’re ready for – and I have time to implement – the ‘next stage’ of site development. For example, we do need to integrate our main site more effectively (sharing both appearance and ‘feel) with our shop, for which we’re using Zen Cart. As a strictly amateur web person, I don’t yet know how to amalgamate and ‘match’ these two sites more effectively. :) Thematic may be able to help me with this process – I’ll certainly take a look at what is possible.

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Mike February 16, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Great post! I have a quick question though. I have the Extended Categories widget that you mention in step 7 but have not signed up with Feedburner. Should I do this or just leave my feeds as they are?

Thanks again for the great info.

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Sue February 17, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the feedback. :)

And no, you don’t have to use Feedburner to use the Extended Categories widget. We simply decided to use Feedburner for all our sites/domains, so we can monitor, track and measure more easily.

Cheers
Sue

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Harshit Singhal June 29, 2010 at 10:15 am

I had placed feedburner stats html code in my sidebar and now i have followed your procedure for category specific RSS feeds but the problem is that when I am clicking on the feedburner widget on my website for a particular category,my feeds for that category aren’t being redirected as they were supposed to be after installing the Feedsmith Feedburner plugin ..Any idea ?

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Sue July 28, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Since writing that original post, and several subsequent WordPress updates later, we found the Feedsmith Feedburner plugin was also no longer working as it should for us. We’ve since deactivated and uninstalled it and we are now using the FD Feedburner plugin instead. (This appears to be doing the job for us better now. I’m not sure how to fix that issue you mentioned. You may have more luck approaching Google or checking their help systems, as they have taken over the Feedsmith Feedburner plugin I gather. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

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Bhavika July 22, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Thanks, that was really helpful in setting up the categories feed,:) would you know how to add those feed on each category page, like on the top?

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Sue July 28, 2010 at 11:38 pm

I’m glad my post was helpful. :) Unfortunately I’m not sure how to add those feeds specifically to each category page, as that’s not something I’ve done myself. However I did find this page on the web that might possibly be of assistance to you: How to Add WordPress Category Feed Links to Posts. I hope it helps! :)

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Billy July 29, 2010 at 1:19 am

Sue, thank you for this post. I was searching and searching on how to get category feeds working with feedburner and you solved all my issues.

Thanks again!
Billy

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Sue July 29, 2010 at 1:35 am

Hi Billy .. glad it helped. I visited your site, and it’s looking good… though I couldn’t see where you’d put the category feeds. :) As I mentioned in previous comment, we’re no longer using Feedsmith Feedburner, as it stopped working for us as it should. I’m not necessarily blaming the plugin … :) Could simply be a combination of other changes we’ve made on our blogs. Still, I’m glad it’s working for you anyway.

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MadtownLems August 11, 2010 at 3:06 am

Is it possible to use Feedburner for your Category Feeds without manually adding each category feed via Feedburner dashboard?

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Sue August 12, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Hi Jason .. From memory, no it isn’t possible to do that. Each category needs to have its own Feedburner feed created. Though it was some time ago I used Feedburner, so I may not be remembering exactly. Sorry I can’t be of more help. :)

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alonsomayo August 24, 2010 at 8:44 am

very helpful, thanks!

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James January 29, 2011 at 3:45 am

Hi Sue, you post is very helpful. I made some modification on Feedburner Feedsmith plugin and it works fine with wordpress 3.0 now.

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Sue January 29, 2011 at 9:10 am

Thank you James, and I’m glad the information was helpful. :) Cheers, Sue

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Kim Lloyd March 14, 2012 at 12:56 am

Thanks Sue, very helpful.

Just trying to understand the pros and cons of actually setting up and linking individual category-level feedburner RSS feeds vs using a redirector tool like FD Feedburner. We’re a new site, so we don’t have many subscribers. Asking them to change their RSS links isn’t a huge deal right now, so I’d rather build it right sooner rather than later.

If you didn’t have legacy RSS feed subscribers to worry about, what would you have done?

Thanks!

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