Troubleshooting RSS Feed Issues In SSP
The RSS Feed is the lifeblood of your podcast, and without it your podcast really can't exist.
Because of this, there are strict guidelines set out by Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts to standardize what podcast RSS feeds should include (and shouldn't include). As a result, if your feed is deemed to be "invalid" in their eyes you won't be able to submit your show to these directories.
Below we will walk through the steps our team takes when troubleshooting RSS feed issues, and hopefully, this will help you if you're facing an issue with your feed and submitting it to directories like Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Podcasts, etc.
These are your friends. Think of the two feed validators below as the Health Check for your feed. We suggest running your RSS feed through BOTH of these prior to submitting to any podcasting directory:
If you run your feed URL through these services and they come up with an error message then it's time to address those issues. These validator services are pretty good at describing what the issues with your feed might be, but below we'll walk through the few most common issues that we see in troubleshooting RSS feeds for our customers.
No Episodes In Feed
This is a pretty easy one, but something that's worth mentioning. For an RSS feed to be considered valid it MUST contain at least one published, live episode. A feed isn't a feed without anything in it. So in addition to having the meta-information about your show, like Show Title, Description, Cover Image, Categories, etc. you also have to have an episode published on your WordPress site (with a media file associated with it.
No episode = No feed
Cover Image Has Incorrect Dimensions
The podcast cover image for your feed has to be between 1400x1400px and 3000x3000px in size, in JPG or PNG format, and exactly square. Not one pixel out of square. Don't eyeball this and guess. Using a tool like Canva, Snappa, or Photoshop to design your podcast cover image is a great way to ensure that the dimensions are exactly correct.
In WordPress, one thing that can trip users up are plugins that automatically compress and resize images that are uploaded. If you're receiving this error message and know for a fact the image you created on your computer is 3000x3000px in size then it might be worth looking into image compression/resizing plugins on your site and how to disable or bypass them just for this image. Images that are too small will invalidate your feed.
Missing or Incorrect Fields
Every field in the Feed Details (Podcast -> Settings -> Feed Details area of your WP dashboard are required for your podcast. Don't leave any of them blank or it will throw an error when attempting to validate your RSS feed.
Wrong File Type
If you're using a tool like Audacity to edit your podcast audio files there is the need to Export your audio file from that tool to a .mp3 file format (we cover our preferred encoding practices here). Sometimes we see customers attempting to upload a .aup file, which is the Audacity project file, and not the actual audio file for your episode.
Empty Lines or Invalid Characters In Feed
Particularly the CastFeedValidator tool will give you a warning if you have incorrect, invalid, or additional characters or lines in your RSS feed's code.
In this case, running a plugin/theme conflict test is the best way to resolve this issue. Some plugins and themes can automatically insert code/characters into your feed in ways that you don't want, and a plugin/theme conflict test is the best way to narrow in on the aspect of your WordPress site that could be contributing to this issue.