First off, if you’re not burning your RSS feed using Google FeedBurner, then you might want to look into that now. That is, if you’re not already keeping track of you’re blog’s subscriber stats using some other means. But even then, Google FeedBurner is probably a better solution than what you’re using now.
For the longest time I wondered how a few of the most respected industry gurus were using their own domain names and still burning their RSS feed through Google FeedBurner. A few weeks ago I stopped admiring and decided to figure it out. Now I’m sharing it with you because I just think it’s the coolest thing ever!
You’ll commonly see feed URLs that look similar to http://www.seorankings.com/feed, http://feed.feedburner.com/seorankings, and a few others. With the former usually being left basic, and latter using the more sophisticated web feed management tool Google FeedBurner. If you don’t already know, Google FeedBurner allows you to track subscribers and subscribe via email, among various other important things. That’s why you’ll see most experienced bloggers using it. Which is great but, it can also look a little amateurish when you’re sending people to a third party website to subscribe to your RSS feed. So I’m going to show you how to take advantage of all the cool tools FeedBurner has to offer while keeping your brand at the forefront.
Instead of having a feed that looks like this:
You could be using a nice branded one with your own domain name similar to this:
While still taking advantage of all the same great features. Which one looks more established and professional to you?
Obviously you’re going to need a FeedBurner account. Once you’ve burned your feed in your FeedBurner account you’re going to need to → login → click on the appropriate feed → then click on My Account in the top right corner → and last on MyBrand. Or you can just click on this link: http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mybrand too. Now, this is where it can get a bit confusing if you don’t have a grasp on setting up DNS and redirects. Update: I just found this helpful RSS Feed to Feedburner redirect plugin to handle the redirects for me.
Google has already done a great job outlining the steps you need to take on that page, so I won’t go into detail here, but I will give you a summary and let you know of a few snags I had. Just be sure to read carefully, and follow the referenced links for help.
If you host your website with a third-party, then you’re probably not going to have enough privileges to create the required CNAME entry yourself, so be prepared to ask your hosting provider. Google offers this advice for creating a CNAME entry, with a step-by-step guide for some of the most popular web hosts. Of course none of mine were on their list.
Once you have your feed set up correctly you’ll need to change the active links on your website to point to the to point to the new URL and redirect to old URL to the new one so you can get an accurate count of the previous subscribers who still subscribe to the old URL. Just be sure to also read Google’s feed redirect advice to be sure you get everything working correctly.
Then, after you think everything is working properly, and your old posts are showing up at the new URL, be sure to test by creating a new blog post and making sure it shows up at the new feed URL too. My “new” posts weren’t getting published at the new URL because I didn’t have the redirects set up properly. However “old” posts (posts previous to this change) were showing up at the new URL, so it can be a bit deceiving.
When I was looking to set this up for my sites I obviously hit a few snags. There were only a few sites offering advice on how to set this up, but none of them really did a good job explaining things. And Google doesn’t offer any support for this service either. So, if you dare, give it a try and feel free to leave me your comments or questions below, if you have any trouble. I’ll do my best to help you sort it out.
Good luck, and if you haven’t already, you should subscribe to our feed to get more great tips like this one!