The RSS feed is the container that holds all of your podcast’s information, details, and episodes. Without it, your podcast would be a bundle of unorganized data points.
Your podcast’s RSS feed organizes these data points and presents them to podcast listening platforms in a way that they can read and understand.
Because of this, there are strict guidelines set by platforms like Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts to standardize what podcast RSS feeds can (and cannot) 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.
Troubleshooting RSS feed issues
RSS feed validators
The following tools are free and extremely useful. Think of feed validators like a Health Check for your feed. Each validator will return slightly different results including false/positive errors and alerts. We suggest running your RSS feed through more than one:
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
No episodes in feed
For an RSS feed to be valid it MUST contain at least one published, live episode. A podcast isn't a podcast without an episode your audience can listen to – and an RSS feed isn't valid until it contains an episode file. So, in addition to entering the details about your podcast, like Title, Description, Artwork, Categories, etc. you also need to have an episode published on your WordPress site (with a media file associated with it.
No episode = No feed
Podcast artwork has incorrect dimensions
The podcast cover image for your feed must be between 1400 x 1400px and 3000 x 3000px in size, a JPG or PNG file, a perfect square, and a file size less than 1MB. This isn't something you want to eyeball. Use a tool like Canva, Snappa, or Photoshop to design your podcast artwork is a great way to make sure the dimensions are exactly correct.
Are you using a WordPress plugins that automatically compress and resize images that are uploaded? If you're seeing this error message and know for a fact the image you created is the correct size, shape and filetype, a compression/resizing plugin might be running on your site. Contact plugin support for steps to deactivate or to bypass the podcast artwork image. Images that are too small will invalidate the RSS feed.
Missing or incorrect fields
Sign into your WordPress Admin dashboard and go to Podcast > Settings > Feed Details
Double-check that your podcast's details have been entered in full. Leaving out important information will result in an error when attempting to validate your RSS feed.
Not all feed details will apply to every podcast. But the following Feed Details are required:
- Cover image
- Primary category*
- Owner name
- Owner email address
* Including a Primary Subcategory, Secondary category, and Tertiary category aren't required but are considered a best practice.
Wrong file type
Double-check that episodes were uploaded as MP3 audio-based files. It's not unusual to accidentally upload an image file (jpg or png) instead of the audio file.
When using a tool like Audacity to edit your podcast episodes, you may need to reformat the files before they're uploaded. In this case, the error might be seen when a podcaster has uploaded their episode as a .aup file instead of a file format that's compatible.
Empty lines or invalid characters
The CastFeedValidator tool will alert you to any 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 invalidate your podcast's RSS feed by automatically insert code or character. 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.