WebSub: The Real-Time Web Syndication Protocol


If you are a content creator or publisher, you may look for ways to keep your audience up-to-date with your latest content. Traditionally, RSS feeds have been the go-to solution for syndicating content, but they have their limitations. That’s where WebSub comes in. WebSub is a protocol that allows publishers to notify subscribers when new content is available in real time.

Let’s discuss what WebSub is, how it works, and why you should consider using it for your content syndication needs.

What is WebSub?

WebSub, formerly known as PubSubHubbub, is a protocol for real-time notifications of updates to web resources. It provides a publish-subscribe model for web syndication, enabling publishers to push content updates to subscribers in real time. In other words, when a publisher updates their content, WebSub will automatically notify subscribers of the change.

How Does WebSub Work?

WebSub is based on the publish-subscribe model, where publishers publish updates to a hub, and subscribers subscribe to the hub to receive those updates. Here is how the process works:

  1. The publisher publishes new content to their website.
  2. The publisher sends a notification to the hub, indicating that new content is available.
  3. The hub verifies the notification and then distributes it to all subscribers who have subscribed to the publisher’s feed.
  4. The subscriber receives the notification and retrieves the updated content from the publisher’s website.

WebSub uses webhooks, which are HTTP callbacks, to deliver notifications to subscribers. When a subscriber subscribes to a hub, it provides a callback URL, which is where the hub will send notifications when new content is available. WebSub also supports the use of hubs as intermediaries, allowing multiple publishers to publish updates to a single hub, which in turn distributes the updates to subscribers.

Why Use WebSub?

WebSub offers several benefits over traditional syndication methods like RSS. Here are a few reasons why you should consider using WebSub:

Real-Time Updates

Unlike RSS feeds, which rely on periodic polling to check for updates, WebSub delivers updates in real time. This means that subscribers receive updates as soon as they are available without having to wait for the next polling cycle.


WebSub can handle a large number of subscribers, making it a scalable solution for content syndication. This is because WebSub uses webhooks, which are HTTP callbacks, to deliver notifications to subscribers. This means that publishers don’t need to maintain a list of subscribers or handle the delivery of notifications themselves.

Lower Bandwidth Usage

With WebSub, subscribers only receive updates when there is new content available. This means that subscribers don’t need to download the entire feed every time they check for updates, reducing bandwidth usage.

Easy to Implement

Implementing WebSub is relatively straightforward, especially if you are already familiar with webhooks. There are also several libraries and tools available that make it easy to integrate WebSub into your existing content management system.

Getting Started with WebSub

To get started with WebSub, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Implement WebSub support on your website. This involves setting up a WebSub hub, which can be done using an existing service or hosting your own hub.
  2. Publish content updates on your website and send notifications to your WebSub hub.
  3. Subscribers can then subscribe to your WebSub feed by providing their callback URL to your hub.

Several services offer WebSub support, including Google’s FeedBurner and WordPress.com. If you prefer to host your own hub, there are also several open-source implementations available, including Superfeedr and PubSubHubbub## Best Practices for WebSub

While WebSub is a powerful tool for content syndication, there are a few best practices to keep in mind when using it:


WebSub requires the use of HTTPS for all communication between the hub, publisher, and subscriber. This ensures that all communication is secure and prevents any unauthorized access to your content.

Validate Notifications

Before distributing notifications to subscribers, the hub should validate them to ensure that they are legitimate. This helps to prevent any malicious actors from sending false notifications.

Provide Clear Subscription Instructions

Make it clear how users can subscribe to your WebSub feed. This includes providing clear instructions on where to find the callback URL and how to subscribe to it.

Monitor Your Feed

Make sure to monitor your WebSub feed regularly to ensure that notifications are being delivered successfully. If there are any issues with delivery, you can take corrective action before subscribers are affected.

For WordPress users, you can use the WebSub plugin.

WebSub and SEO

WebSub can also have a positive impact on your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. By using WebSub, you can ensure that search engines are notified of any updates to your content in real-time, which can help to improve your search engine rankings. Additionally, by providing your subscribers with timely updates, you can increase engagement with your content, which can also help to improve your SEO.

Wrapping Up

WebSub is a powerful protocol for real-time content syndication. By using WebSub, publishers can ensure that their subscribers receive updates as soon as they are available without having to wait for the next polling cycle. WebSub is also scalable, easy to implement, and can help to improve search engine rankings.

If you are a content creator or publisher looking for a better way to syndicate your content, WebSub is definitely worth considering.

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