Dr Nic

Fixing your Feedburner feeds

Feedburner is great – you get snazzy graphs [1]. And other stuff. People use your feedburner link, instead of your raw RSS feed, in their feed reader and Feedburner will track your number of subscribers.

But it cannot track this information if your readers don’t use your Feedburner link. Why wouldn’t they use your Feedburner link? For two reasons:

  • You haven’t included the link on your blog sidebar (most people do this correctly)
  • You haven’t replaced the RSS links in your blog header (most people stuff this up)

Understand, there are two common ways for blog subscribers to add your site to their reader:

Unfortunately for many bloggers, if your readers use the latter method and you haven’t fixed your header (shown below), then they will be signing up for the raw RSS feed, and you’ll be none the wiser about them. They’ll be an invisible subscriber and won’t make your graphs as tall as they should be.

Let’s take an example of a broken blog and fix it for him. But, you can’t actually tell him to fix it otherwise I’ll have to update my example. Ad infinitum. So, its mum’s the word, ok? Only 180 subscribers on this blog – statistically he’s not one of them. Shhhh.

Visit the pinupgeek.com run by Rodney, where you’ll get weekly updates on the forum discussions of core improvements. On the right hand side, you’ll see the heading Subscribe and the RSS logo. The link under this logo is http://feeds.feedburner.com/pinupgeek – a Feedburner link. So we know he wants people to use his Feedburner link so he can watch his pretty graphs.

Now, right click on the page, and select “View Page source”. Note that in the header you’ll see the following:

  <link href="http://www.pinupgeek.com/xml/rss" rel="alternate" title="RSS" type="application/rss+xml" />

This link, of type application/rss+xml, will be used by RSS readers around the world automagically when passed a blog url, instead of an RSS feed link.

Here’s what happens in Netvibes for Rodney’s site:

Blog headers providing incorrect RSS feed link

No Feedburner link, just the raw RSS link (and a RSD feed link – what’s this for??).

So, let’s fix Rodney’s site.

Replace the above link with the following (using your blog’s theme editor):

  <link href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/pinupgeek" rel="alternate" title="RSS" type="application/rss+xml" />

If Rodney did this, then when I added his site into my Netvibes reader – or any other reader – I would automatically pick up his Feedburner link, and not his raw, unmonitored links.

In other words, his graph will get bigger.

[1] My blog is one month old and here is my Feedburner graph:

Feedburner - August 2006

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8 Responses to “Fixing your Feedburner feeds”

  1. Rick Klau says:

    Thanks for sharing this – it’s something a lot of publishers overlook. A related issue that can help ensure you’re tracking all of your audience is to redirect existing subscribers. If your blog’s been around a while, and people have already subscribed to the existing feed(s), then simply fixing the autodiscovery won’t send them our way. You need to actually redirect requests for those feeds to us. There’s some documentation over on our support forums that walks you through this.

    Hope it helps, and thanks again for sharing this info!


    VP, Publisher Services

  2. Dr Nic says:

    The people at Feedburner are spying on me. They know everything!

    Oh wait, I do send all my traffic through their server. :)

  3. Rick Klau says:

    LOL. Nah, just a good morning of catching up on Technorati. Much easier that way. ;)

  4. ZeroZen says:

    Thanks for the tip!

  5. Mark says:

    Great advice, thanks. I just started using Steve Smith’s Feedburner plug-in for WordPress and I like it a lot. Of course I’m new to this, so I need all of the help I can get.


  6. Rodney says:

    Hey Nic, i fixed it, tnx, I never looked into that. The link comes from the auto_discovery_link_tag in Rails. Thanks again :-)

  7. Dr Nic says:

    @rodney – no no no – you weren’t supposed to fix your site! Damn. Need a new example now.

  8. THANK YOU SO MUCH for this post. It seriously saved my sanity.

    I had a strange issue with WordPress (hosted) where I had to delete the original feed that I set up with Feedburner, because I realized I could simply change the address of my old blog feed…. but after I deleted it, I could NOT get the RSS Icon in the browser to pick up the correct link, no matter what I tried. This post pointed me in the right direction and I fixed it in seconds.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!