Setting Up Feedburner for SEO

You learned the basics of Feedburner and its relationship to SEO in the first part of this two-part series. Now in the second part, you will learn the detailed technical procedures for integrating Feedburner with your website to maximize subscribers and also increase the chance of getting organic links.

Before you read further, make sure you have a fully working Feedburner account; you’ll need a Google account to get one.

I assume that at this stage you have already added your site’s default RSS feeds to Feedburner by following the steps discussed in the previous tutorial (part 1). Now you need to configure that to get the most out of Feedburner.

The scope of this tutorial covers mostly the WordPress publishing platform since it is used commonly with popular blogs. Also, this tutorial emphasizes the use of Feedburner for self-hosted WordPress blogs (which means you can fully customize it, use FTP, full admin control or add WordPress plug-ins).

Redirecting all your WordPress feed URLs to Feedburner

WordPress has a number of feed URLs, which would comprise a long list and can be tough to manage. However, the easiest way to spot is to look for an RSS button, as shown below:

 



For example, all of the URLs below can be your WordPress feed URL:

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/wp-rss.php

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/wp-rss2.php

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/wp-rdf.php

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/wp-atom.php

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/?feed=rss

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/?feed=rss2

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/?feed=rdf

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/?feed=atom

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/feed/

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/feed/rss/

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/feed/rss2/

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/feed/rdf/

http://yourexamplewebsite.com/feed/atom/

It is important to redirect all feed URLs to your new Feedburner URL so that it can be closely monitored by Feedburner (which is useful for reporting accurate statistics about your feeds) and to ensure that all subscribers can benefit from free and useful Feedburner services. On the other hand, since it is also possible to add Google AdSense to your Feedburner feeds, redirecting all feed traffic ensures all impressions can help in increasing your AdSense income.

To redirect all feed URLs to Feedburner, you need to use a plug-in. Follow the detailed procedures below:

Step 1: Download the Feedsmith plug-in

Step 2: Extract the zip file and find FeedBurner_FeedSmith_Plugin.php.

Step 3: Upload this file to your WordPress plug-ins directory (/wp-content/plugins/)

Step 4: Log in as admin to the WordPress dashboard panel and activate this plug-in.

Step 5: Once activated, under Dashboard -> Settings, find the “Feedburner” control panel (see screenshot below, inside red box) and click it.

Step 6: Look for “Set Up Your FeedBurner Feed” and under this field: “Once you have created your FeedBurner feed, enter its address into the field below (http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourfeed):”, enter your Feedburner URL. Example:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/php-developer

Leave the third field blank.

Step 7: To see if it is working, use this tool and enter your default/old feed URL e.g.: http://www.php-developer.org/feed/

The desired results are that the old/default feed URLs should be 302 redirected to your new Feedburner URL. See example:

Results of the GSiteCrawler Server-Test

Tested at 12/21/2009 12:29:57 PM / from 125.60.235.221:

URL=http://www.php-developer.org/feed/

Result code: 302 (Found / Moved Temporarily)

New location: http://feeds.feedburner.com/php-developer

URL=http://feeds.feedburner.com/php-developer

Result code: 200 (OK / OK)

One of the most important requirements for your feed is compatibility with any RSS readers (Google’s reader being the most popular). Before using Feedburner, the default feed may not have been compatible and user-friendly, and this affects the growth of your subscribers. Refer to the steps below to optimize this:

Step 1: Log in to your Feedburner account.

Step 2: Click “Optimize” main header/menu.

Step 3: On the left sub menu under “Services,” find “Smart feed.”

Step 4: Click activate.

If you can see the message: “You have successfully updated the feed”…, it’s done.

Let users subscribe to your feeds via email

Receiving updated feeds via email (instead of using an RSS reader) seems to be one of the most popular methods used by Feedburner subscribers. If you do not offer an email subscription form for your feeds, you can be losing a substantial amount of subscribers that could possibly be linking to your blog.

To do this, follow these steps:

Step 1: Log in to your Feedburner account.

Step 2: Click “Publicize” main header/menu.

Step 3: Under “Services,” click email subscriptions.

Step 4: Click “Activate.”

Step 5: Select the appropriate language.

Step 6: The first code in the box is the one you need to paste into your WordPress template. See screenshot below:

Step 7: Paste your code into any prominent location in your WordPress blog. Feedburner code automatically blends everything with your HTML layouts and style, so you do not have to worry about customizing it further. See an example located on the lower section of the linked site. 

The issue of duplicate content has been widely discussed  over the past years. WordPress users are afraid to use feeds (some even consider disabling it) because they fear the risk of duplicate content penalties; well that may have been an issue before, but it is no longer. Google Feedburner provides straightforward, easy solutions to any content provider that wants to avoid any of the risks. Refer to the steps below:

Tip 1: Prevent your feeds from being indexed by search engines

Step 1: Log in to Feedburner.

Step 2: Click “Publicize” on the main header/menu.

Step 3: Under “Services,” look for “Noindex” and click it.

Step 4: Check both these options (there are two options currently available) and activate it.

Tip 2: Use the link rel canonical plug-in

In the early days of Feedburner, one of the things users worried about was duplicate content after the Feedburner URL to the blog’s permalink redirect. For example, suppose someone linked to your site like this:

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/php-developer/~3/EPK4Dy5eKt4/ (this is an example of a Feedburner URL representing a piece of your content).

Clicking on it will 301 redirect to http://www.php-developer.org/monitoring-website-traffic-using-excel-spc-control-chart/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+php-developer+%28PHP+Developer%29 , which is not a canonical URL. The canonical URL should just be: http://www.php-developer.org/monitoring-website-traffic-using-excel-spc-control-chart/

Now that Google and search engines accept the link rel canonical standard for sorting out duplicate content issues like the one above, it is recommended that you use this technique in your WordPress website to save as much link juice as possible from feeds.

Step 1: Download the WordPress link rel canonical plug-in

Step 2: Unzip the files and look for canonical.php.

Step 3: Upload it to your WordPress plug-in directory and activate it.

So when the plug-in is activated, if Googlebot happens to index http://www.php-developer.org/monitoring-website-traffic-using-excel-spc-control-chart/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+php-developer+%28PHP+Developer%29 which is the redirected target of the Feedburner URL, then they will see this somewhere in the <head> tag:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.php-developer.org/monitoring-website-traffic-using-excel-spc-control-chart/"/> And that awards any links to the canonical URL.

Here I’ll mention just two. First, there is pingshot. This will provide an instant ping to RSS readers to notify them that you have successfully published new content, instead of waiting for them to fetch periodic information on their own. This is typically helpful if you are competing for “freshness,” as is done by news blogging websites.

To use pingshot:

Step 1: Log in to Feedburner.

Step 2: Go to “Publicize” -> “Pingshot” and then click Activate.

Second, there is Chicklet Chooser. Once you are logged in to Feedburner, look under “Publicize,” and you can use the default options of Chicklet Chooser to grab the HTML code, which you can then use to paste into your website.

Just leave everything else at default (not checked) except for “Subscribe to a reader” under the “Choose the new standard feed icon.”

Scroll down below and you can see the code.

There are still a lot of Feedburner services and features I have not discussed in this tutorial, but I find them second in priority to getting subscribers. The most important thing is to show them your feed icon (by using Chicklet Chooser) or offer them a way to subscribe to your feeds by email (Feedburner free email subscription service). In this way, you are preventing your WordPress blog from getting cluttered with lots and lots of unimportant icons which contribute to a poor user experience.

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