RSS with Feedburner

Have you ever wondered why people use FeedBurner for their RSS feeds? Well, if you’ve ever used Google Analytics to track traffic on your site, you know how cool it is to check traffic sources, page views, and bounce rate. Feedburner, another free service provided by Google, tracks information about your RSS subscribers.
When you create a FeedBurner RSS feed, all you’re really doing is redirecting the channel through which people receive your feed. It acts as a middle man, so to speak, between your feed and your subscribers, and tracks the information being passed back and forth. It won’t change the way your viewers see your feeds. FeedBurner will tell you the readers your subscribers are using (like Google Reader, for example), how many subscribers actually click on your post to go to your blog, and which country your subscribers are subscribing from.

So how do you create a feed?

If you’re using a blogging platform like Blogger, creating a feed with FeedBurner is fairly simple. You may not realize, but your blog already has an RSS feed. All you need to do is redirect your feed to go through FeedBurner. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll assume most people are using Blogger.

Here are the steps:

    1. Go to Feedburner.com to get started. If you’re not already logged into Google, it’ll ask you to authenticate.
    2. Enter your blog’s URL (I’m using an old, outdated blog. Maybe one day I’m revamp it.)

    1. You’ll probably see two feeds – Atom and RSS. Atom is just another syndication technology, like RSS. Both do essentially the same thing, so you can choose either one. I’ll be sticking with RSS. If you’d like to read up more about the differences between Atom and RSS, check out this article.

    1. Give your feed a name and a FeedBurner URL. The feed name is what people will see when they subscribe to your feed. Make a note of your feed’s URL–you’ll need it later.

    1. At this point, you’ll probably want to add a few of the extra features FeedBurner has to offer. Click Next.

    1. Check ‘Clickthroughs’ and ‘I want more!’ If you’re a podcaster or have lots of downloadable content, check ‘Item enclosure downloads’.

* At this point, you’ve successfully created your FeedBurner RSS feed. Now, you need to change some settings on your blog to make sure your blog feed uses FeedBurner.

    1. On your blog dashboard, choose ‘Settings’ for your blog.

    1. On the ‘Settings’ tab, choose ‘Site Feed’.

    1. In the field Post Feed Redirect URL, type the full URL of your FeedBurner feed.

  1. Click ‘Save Settings’, and you’re done!

From here, just log in to FeedBurner and you’ll see a list of your current feeds. Clicking on them will bring up the individual feed statistics. The new FeedBurner feed will automatically include anyone who was already subscribing to the old RSS feed. In other words, your current following will show up in your FeedBurner stats.

You might wonder how many people are actually using RSS to view blogs. The answer? More than you’d think. On my wife’s blog, she has 39 followers. Her feed, however, has 60 subscribers. Personally, I use nothing but RSS feeds to follow friends, get my news, and keep up to date on my interests and hobbies. I’ve become a huge fan of Google Reader, a really simple tool that does a great job of organizing my feeds (more to come on Google Reader).

If you’re like my wife, you’ll want to publicize your new posts. Isn’t that the whole reason you have a blog? In future posts, I’ll show you how to automate the process of instantly publicizing your new posts on both Twitter and Facebook. That way, all your Twitter followers and Facebook friends will have quick and easy access to your most recent posts.