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Rss Feeds So They Work In Google Web Master Tools

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#1 DJKay


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Posted 30 September 2009 - 03:18 PM


We have a problem and I have been going back and forth with my developer now for over a year. If we use the http://beta.feedvalidator.org/ all of our xml feeds are valid. The problem is that when I go into web master tools, three of them have not been spidered and considered invalid (have little Xs) next to them.

My developer thinks that because they are valid and work in most rss readers they are fine. He is a MAC guy, so he tells me this is some plot because google does not like RSS feeds that are done to the original Apple Format.

I told him I need him to work with the code so it works in google, so, anyone run up against this problem before. Anyone have any resources for this that we can look at?

Thanks in advance.


#2 Randy


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Posted 30 September 2009 - 03:58 PM

I don't believe that tool checks for valid xml code. I haven't used it myself other than a little test I just ran on it with an xml feed I know for a fact is not valid xml. But seeing as how it gave my known invalid xml a stamp of approval I'd say it's a fairly safe guess that it doesn't actually check the xml validity. If I had to guess I'd say it's checking more on the RSS side of things instead of looking for valid xml.

There are lots of different validators out there that are free to use. W3C even has one, but you kind of have to watch what you feed it because if there is no doctype declaration it'll still try to guess and produce warnings instead of errors. It should throw a big old honking error for a missing doctype imho.

Do a search on the phrase "xml validator" in your favorite search engine and you should turn up at least a couple dozen other validators you may want to run your feeds through.

Also, what type of error is WMT reporting? Does it give any details that might help narrow things down?

And lastly, how do you have those feeds entered into WMT? I'm going from memory here when I really should log in and look since I don't use that particular feature myself, but I recall others having an issues with xml feeds because of odd things in the way WMT processes those feeds. You have to validate your site first of course, and if you validate it as the www address you'll want to use the www address throughout and make sure your feed is also at that address. The same goes if you validate with a non-www address. The key being to keep it consistent.

I even remember reading more than one person having a problem getting their xml feed to validate properly in WMT because they gave the full url, instead of just the path info. This happens because Google apparently appends the validated url in there for your feeds, based upon how you validated the site. So if you entered the entire url it ends up being in there twice, which is usually going to produce a 404 Not Found error.

And there are other cases I recall reading about where a WordPress plugin (for feedburner if memory serves) set up what amounted to a redirect to the feed service even if someone tried to access the feed directly from your site. This plugin didn't provide an out for Googlebot or any other user agent, so the feed validation would fail because Googles feed crawler was being redirected off of your site.

So.... It could be any of those things or something else entirely. The first place to start is what error Google is reporting, then work your way backwards from there. Remembering all the while that most error codes are way to broad, so may not be showing you the actual error.

If you just can't track it down posting your question in the "Sitemaps" group over at the Webmaster Central help area will usually get you some assistance. If you give 'em the real url they can usually track it down pretty quickly. And I know John Mueller, who is an extremely helpful Google employee, hangs out there a lot. So if you get JohnMu to chime in on your question you'll be way ahead of the game.

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