How to make an aggregator feed on your blog: revisited

My posts on building a blog aggregator with WordPress are several years old. If you’re curious about which posts I’m talking about, check these out:

I’m personally curious whether the setup and plugins I recommended to make an aggregator feed on a WordPress blog are still relevant. So before I delve further, I’ll assume you understand what a blog aggregator means; otherwise, feel free to read it up in Part 1 of my blog aggregator tutorial.

Plugins for a WordPress blog aggregator

There were literally two essential plugins that I use to make my blog aggregator work: a contact form called MM Forms, and an RSS aggregator called WP-o-Matic. As with many WordPress plugins which are open-sourced and developed with love and as much free time by the developers as possible, both plugins are no more in the official WordPress.org plugins repository.

I’ll list out other plugins for you to check out, but I neither endorse nor recommend them unless stated otherwise, because it’s highly unlikely that I’ve ever used those alternative plugins before.

Replacing MM Forms contact form plugin

It’s easy to find an alternative contact form plugin to replace MM Forms. My checklist for an alternative contact form for a blog aggregator are as recommended below:

  • Simple to set up. I prefer a one-click set up that runs as soon as I enable it in my Plugins editor.
  • Flexible to create custom input fields. I only need to capture three critical details to add a website content into my list of sites to curate: website name, RSS feed URL, and contact email. A Captcha ability is a plus.
  • Results saved and accessible in WordPress dashboard. I like that I get an email notification of new submissions, while having the same copy in my WordPress dashboard. Once I’m done updating my aggregator, I can then delete the form submission, which is a sign that my job is complete.

Contact Form 7 has been around for a long time, and you can check out the multitude of other contact forms in the WP repo that suits your needs.

Replacing WP-o-Matic RSS aggregator plugin

You can still find WP-o-Matic in GitHub, but there hasn’t been any updates since three years ago. It’s pretty challenging to find a good alternative to WP-o-Matic because it’s built so well and it’s so user-friendly. It’s so good, that at one point I have considered adopting the project in WP.org and start providing tech support for the plugin. However, having two plugins already listed in the repo, I know how taxing it is to give my time out to helping others while juggling real-life responsibilities, therefore I finally decided not to stretch my luck.

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I wasn’t very picky with my blog aggregator plugin, other than that it is user-friendly and works with either my web server cron or built-in WordPress cron. The plugin is pretty advanced, even with a built-in REGEX that allows you to rename strings within the content you’re scraping (let’s call an aggregator for what it truly is, okay; I’m short of calling it content stealing if I was copying content without the website owner’s permission). I never had the need to use the advanced settings, though.

WP Robot and FeedWordPress have been around for quite some time, I believe as long as WP-o-Matic. However, WP Robot is a paid service, while FeedWordPress hasn’t been tested with the latest WordPress release. PressForward seems to be a viable alternative, too. The plugin doesn’t typically work like most RSS aggregators, but if you have a similar use case to what’s described in the plugin’s description and screenshots, then this may be what you need. I was going to mention CyberSyn, but I’m reading a lot of negative reviews about them.

Just like any plugin out there, use them on your own risk.

Themes for a blog aggregator

WP RSS Aggregator (how much SEO-blatant can you get haha) has listed a good list of themes you can try out for your own blog aggregator.

Blog aggregator theme Curated

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I personally like the Curated theme — thumbnail-supported posts are very much an in-thing nowadays. Yeah, disregard load speed, why not.

guiknet old site

The theme I used for my now defunct blog aggregator was very simple. I personally used it to keep up with blog posts from Sabahan bloggers, a few whom I know in real life. The rise of online social media like Facebook changed that need. Most of them don’t blog anymore, except a handful; I can literally count them by hand.

Anywho, depending on what you want to do with your blog aggregator, you can lay it out however you want. As long as the content is accessible and easy to read, use whatever WordPress theme you want for your aggregator site.

Is content aggregation dead?

Content aggregation is certainly not dead. 9GAG and BuzzFeed are proof of that. What’s dead is content scraping for quick money-making, which is often used in black-hat marketing techniques. It’s one of the reasons why blog aggregator plugins are often frowned upon. Used correctly, though, and it creates a win-win situation for both the aggregator and content owner.

I currently have no need for a blog aggregator, still it’s good to look back at what I’ve built and the endless possibilities of WordPress, hence why I love this platform so much. Take a look at my previous posts with the blog aggregator tag for other tips and references on how to make an aggregator feed on your blog.

Posted on 30 June, 2018 under Discovering WordPress and tagged with