How to Use Google Sheets as a Free RSS Reader

Google Sheets RSS ReaderGoogle Sheets can be used as a free RSS (and Atom) reader.

The Sheets IMPORTFEED function allows you to create a self-updating repository of blog & news article content that you can easily share with your social media followers.

In this post, we’ll explain how this works. We will also provide you with a link to a sample Google Sheet that you can copy and adapt to the RSS feeds that most interest you, your customers and your social media followers.

We’ll show you how to create Google Sheets formulas for one-click social sharing of blog posts and articles on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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 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 and 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:

https://www.lexnetcg.com/feed

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)


All of the above formulas are included in this sample Google Sheet, which is a template of sorts.

From your Gmail or Google Workspace account, you can use File > Make a copy from the menus to create your own copy.

 

Example Feeds

Different platforms have different RSS feed URLs. For blogs that aren’t using a standard website platform, 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.

Discover CMS with Wappalyzer

WordPress

The default feed for all WordPress.org sites is simply:

https://lexnetcg.com/feed

Wix

Wix is a popular local business website builder. The Wix blog uses an Atom feed. Here is an example URL:

https://www.goldkeymarine.com/blog-feed.xml

Blogger/Feedburner

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.

https://feeds.feedburner.com/GoogleAppsUpdates

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.

=”https://gsuiteupdates.googleblog.com/”&MID(G4,1,4)&”/”&MID(G4,6,2)&”/”&RIGHT(F4,(LEN(F4)-64))

Google Alerts

If you use Google Alerts, you know that this 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. Append this URL with ?output=atom and then use that in cell A1 of your Google Sheet.

https://www.google.com/alerts/feeds/12345678901234567890/1302740638077208405?output=atom

Alternatively, when 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.

Deliver Google Alert to RSS Feed

Since the returned URLs for Google Alerts feeds include tracking code, we use this formula in the Google Sheet to return the source URL:

=MID(B4,43,(SEARCH(“&ct=ga”,B4)-43))

Custom Platforms

Here are two examples of blogs that are not served up from a common platform such as WordPress, Blogger or Wix:

Zapier

https://zapier.com/blog/feeds/latest/

CSOOnline

https://www.csoonline.com/index.rss

Formulas For Social Sharing Links

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:

=hyperlink(“https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=”&A3&”+”&B3&””, “Tweet”)
=hyperlink(“https://www.linkedin.com/cws/share?url=”&B3&””, “LinkedIn”)
=hyperlink(“https://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=”&B3&””, “Facebook”)
=hyperlink(“https://bufferapp.com/add?url=”&C3&”&text=”&A3&””, “Buffer”)

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