How to Turn Any Website into an RSS Feed

How to Turn Any Website into an RSS Feed

A Reader Asks:

I’m trying to follow a website in Feedly, but there’s no RSS feed! Google Reader used to offer the ability to follow any kind of website, regardless of whether or not the site offered RSS. One of the websites that I’m trying to follow is Art Travel, but unfortunately, it doesn’t offer any kind of feed.

I’ve tried several options, like creating a feed using an online service, such as Page2RSS (among several others). Most of these services don’t work or limit the number of times the service checks for new feed items. Also, the Feedly channel on If This Then That (IFTTT) only works for Feedly Pro users, which requires payment.

Is there an alternative?

arttravel image

Kannon’s Reply:

Lots of sites nowadays don’t offer RSS (what’s RSS?) or other news feeds. Getting an RSS feed for an RSS-less site sucks. That’s because the majority of feed creating services rely on web crawlers or web scrapers. Web crawlers/scrapers vary in quality. Some function on specific kinds of sites but not others. Of the many kinds of products out there, Kimono offers the most amount of versatility but with a fair amount of complexity, relative to services like Page2RSS.

My recommendation: Use Kimono. It can do a lot more than simply generate an RSS feed. For our purposes, we’ll focus on its most salient feature: Artificially generating RSS feeds. It can update feeds as quick as once per hour. And it offers near limitless flexibility, such as providing web scraping capabilities.

Getting Started with Kimono

Kimono offers a Chrome extension. If you never installed the Chrome browser (our Chrome guide), download and install it. The icon then appears in the upper-right side of the browser, along with any other extensions.

kimono chrome interface1

Navigate to the website you want the feed for. For example: Art Travel. Activate the extension by clicking on the icon. Next, you’ll see Kimono’s interface, which overlays over the website you’re creating a feed for. It looks like this:

kimono interface 2

When you first run the Kimono extension, a brief tutorial initiates. I recommend paying careful attention to the instructions, in case you need to use the extension for another project in the future.

The Kimono extension can identify website content that renews on a regular basis. However, you first need to identify which content on the page updates on a regular basis. Then left-click on each element within the website you want to receive updates on. For example, click on the titles of each section. I took the liberty of using Kimono to mark each component within the website that you might want updates for. In this case, select the titles of each article on the front page.

kimono interface operating on art travel

After you’re finished, select Done, from the upper-right side of the browser window. Next, you’ll get redirected to Kimono’s Application Programming Interface (API) customization page. Don’t let the API’s complexity deter you. You only need to locate the API’s RSS feed from this section. It’s located in the upper-left side of the interface.

kimono interface

Here’s a closer look.

rss location kimono

To get the feed, left-click on rss and then copy the URL into Feedly. For the uninitiated, the URL is the same as the web address. Just click on the web address bar and then right-click, selecting copy from the context menu.

When you copy the URL into Feedly, it looks like this:

feedly insert rss link

And then you’re finished! I recommend sticking your link into its own Feedly folder (our Feedly guide).

Spread the Word About RSS

Kimono offers elegance, power, and efficiency. Even then, my recommendation is: Contact the website owner and request an RSS feed.

RSS in recent years has been under assault from large information companies, such as Google and Facebook, because it offers users a tool for weeding out unwanted content. First, Google killed Reader. Then Facebook made RSS updates difficult to find. And finally Yahoo killed Pipes (here are 13 alternatives to Yahoo Pipes). Many of us fear that they may eventually kill off FeedBurner.

The idea that you deserve control over information remains antithetical to big data companies. By demanding that websites include RSS, we encourage an information delivery system that caters to consumers, rather than to conglomerates.

Alternatives to Kimono

If Kimono proves too complex, many alternatives exist. You’ve already mentioned Page2RSS, so I won’t bring it up. To be honest, it has never worked well for me, either.

  • Feedity: It’s a paid service. It does almost the exact same thing as Kimono, although with a greater emphasis on RSS feeds.
  • It’s a super simple alternative to Kimono. FeedYes offers a completely free and easy method of generating RSS links. If you find this tutorial too overwhelming, I advise starting with FeedYes.
  • Yahoo Pipes: It’s already dead, but it also had the ability to generate an RSS feed. Some of the Pipes alternatives might have similar capabilities.

We Can Help You Too!

We helped this reader. We can help you, too. Got a burning question, or a tech problem you need solved? Just click the button above! And, of course, please leave any feedback or comments in the comments below!

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August 19, 2015 at 10:58AM


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