By setting up Google Sheets as a free RSS (and Atom) reader with social posting formulas, you more quickly and easily share your own content — and the content of others — on social channels.
The Sheets IMPORTFEED function lets you create a self-updating repository of selected blog & news article content that you can share with your social media followers.
In this post, we’ll explain how this works. We’ll show you how to create Google Sheets formulas for one-click social sharing of blog posts and articles on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Buffer (a social sharing platform).
What is an RSS reader?
Most (but not all) blogs and news sites have an RSS or Atom feed.
The feed is a semi-structured (XML) file that contains titles, descriptions, URLs, and more for recent posts. The job of an RSS reader is to transform the XML file’s markup language into a more human-friendly format.
If you have go-to websites that you use as sources for social media sharing — or just for keeping yourself informed — you can add each blog to its own sheet.
If you use Google Alerts, you can discover the RSS feed for any Google Alert you create and then add the feed to its own sheet within Google Sheets.
Pull your first RSS feed into a Google Sheet
Here’s how it works.
1. In cell A1 of a sheet, add a blog’s RSS feed URL. For the blog you are now reading, the feed URL is:
2. In cell A3, add this formula for the blog post title:
=IMPORTFEED(A1,”items title”, TRUE, 100)
3. In cell B3, add this formula for the blog post URL:
=IMPORTFEED(A1,”items URL”, TRUE, 100)
4. In cell C3, add this formula for the date that the blog post was published:
=IMPORTFEED(A1,”items created”, TRUE, 100)
The “100” represents the number of posts to display. This can be any number, but all three formulae should have the same number.
Different platforms have different RSS feed URLs. For blogs that aren’t using one of the more common content management systems (CMS’s), it may take some trial and error to discover the RSS or Atom feed.
To discover what platform a website is using, you can use the Wappalyzer browser extension.
Here are the RSS feed formats for some common CMS’s:
The default feed for all WordPress.org sites is simply:
Squarespace is used by many small businesses. The URL format for the RSS feed includes the blog folder name:
Wix is a popular website builder. The Wix blog uses an Atom feed. Here is an example URL:
For blogs that use Google’s Blogger, the RSS feed is via FeedBurner, which is also owned by Google. The Google Workspace Updates blog is an example of this.
The disadvantage to the RSS reader for Blogger is that the returned URLs are proxies that forward to the original article. However, that can be solved by using a formula that transforms the URLs into direct links to blog posts.
If you use Google Alerts, you know that this service lets you monitor the web, based on search terms that you specify.
At the bottom of every Google Alert email, there is an RSS link. You can append this URL with ?output=atom and then use that in cell A1 of your Google Sheet.
Alternatively, while setting up a Google Alert, there’s an option to “Deliver to” an RSS feed. You can then click on the RSS icon in My Feeds.
Since the returned URLs for Google Alerts feeds include tracking code, we use this formula in the Google Sheet to return the source URL:
Less Common Websites & Custom Platforms
Here are two examples of blogs that are not served up from a common platform such as WordPress, Blogger, or Wix:
RSS Feed Generators
You can use a third-party RSS feed generator such as RSS.app to create a feed from just about any source. For example, if you set up your own topics and sources in Google News, you can use RSS.app to create feeds from these.
Formulas For Social Sharing Links
Last, but not least, you can add columns in your sheet for sharing content on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook. If you are a Buffer subscriber, you can create a column for that too.
Note that these providers occasionally change the syntax for sharing content on their platform.
Fill down the respective columns with these formulas:
Now, you’ll be able to click on any of these links in your Sheet to easily share content on a social channel.