Feedburner: What is It and why your RSS Feed needs it?
I know that most of you are probably already familiar with Feedburner as it has been around for a very long period of time, but I am not forgetting that some of my readers are just discovering the online world and it’s possibilities, so I want to do a quick recap about Feedburner for them.
FeedBurner provides media distribution and audience engagement services for blogs and RSS feeds. Its Web-based tools, including an extensive feed and blog advertising network, help publishers promote, deliver, and monetize their content on the Web and make feed-based content more accessible and manageable for its end users.
An introduction to RSS Feeds
You may already have heard of RSS Feeds and RSS readers. RSS Feeds is a way for your readers to subscribe to your blog and receive your content on a page where they aggregate the content from various blog they are reading on a regular basis. Let’s say it’s like building yourself a newspaper with online stuff you are interested in. For example, you can subscribe to my RSS Feed.
In order to aggregate these feeds, one need to use a RSS Reader. A RSS reader is an online interface where you record the addresses of the RSS Feeds you want to subscribe to, and it will be automatically updated every time one of these blogs is updated. The huge benefit for people who are using RSS Readers is that they don’t need to visit hundreds of websites every day to check if they have new content. They just need to open their RSS reader such as Google Reader or Netvibes and they can see in the blink of an eye which ones of their prefered sites posted some new content.
Feedburner, is it a traffic killer?
From a webmaster point of view, allowing readers to subscribe to your content through RSS may seem like a bad move because people will visit less your website. But it’s generally the opposite, because people who are subscribed to your RSS Feed are checking your content on a daily basis. You are creating a relationship with them. And if they find your content interesting enough, they may visit your website to post a comment, or link back to some of your articles.
What is Feedburner?
Feedburner is some kind of RSS middle-man. This service allows you to make sure your RSS Feed will be compatible with most RSS Readers. It also gives you daily stats about your subscribers and the interactions they had with your feed. The daily stats may be used as an indicator of your blog popularity. For example, I decided to display my number or RSS subscribers at the top of my sidebar even though this is still a really low number. I don’t do it to play “who has the biggest (RSS Feed)”, but I display this number to show you that I have nothing to hide about Dukeo.
Once you created your account on Feedburner and claimed a feed, you are presented with 5 tabs: Analyze, Optimize, Publicize, Monetize and Troubleshootize.
This part is quite obvious: this is where you’ll see your RSS Feed stats. Feedburner tracks Subscribers, Feed reader applications used to access your feed, Uncommon uses, including resyndication and finally the Reach (unique number of people who view or click your feed content).
This tab is where you can optimize your feed for maximum compatibility.
I encourage you to activate the Browser Friendly service which makes it easy for potential subscribers to preview and subscribe to your text or podcast feed. It also applies clean visual formatting to the eyesore of raw feed XML for much improved readability in all modern web browsers.
You should also activate the SmartFeed service. It lets you reach the widest possible audience while publishing a single feed on your blog or site. It also translates your feed on-the-fly into a format (RSS or Atom) compatible with your visitors’ feed reader application.
And last but not least, you can activate the FeedFlare service in order to give your subscribers easy ways to email, tag, share, and act on the content you publish by including as many or few of the services listed below. FeedFlare places a simple footer at the bottom of each content item, helping you to distribute, inform and create a community around your content.
On the publicize tab, you’ll find a service which is totally a must: Pingshot! Most web-based feed reading services will check for updates on their own time. Give ’em a push with PingShot. It notifies interested services when your feed changes.
An interesting service to activate is the NoIndex. It indicates that your feed should not be indexed by search engines. From what I understand, it prevents duplicate content. This way, your valuable content is indexed only on your blog pages.
The monetize tab lets you activate Google AdSense for feeds and choose options that control how these ads display in your feed. Who is going to turn their back on the extra bucks? Unless you are using an extra method of monetization in your feed, you can always activate this to make a few extra dollars.
The last tab Troubleshootize contains general tips and a couple of quick-fixes to try with any malfunctioning feed.
RSS Feed conclusion
With Dukeo, you see what you get and you get what you see. I’m not here to over-sell some software or service. I’m here to share my experience, and this goes by being as transparent as possible about my practices. So yeah, my RSS Subscriber count is still low and displaying it publicly may not be a good way to encourage you to subscribe, but don’t forget that this blog is still really young, and you can support it by following me on Twitter or subscribing to my RSS Feed.
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