Control your RSS URLs; the right way to move to and away from Feedburner

June 28th, 2005

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I’m guest blogging over at Problogger.net, and my recent post Are you letting Feedburner hold you hostage? generated some interesting discussion, including several comments from Feedburner itself. In fact, Eric Lunt from Feedburner formulated a thoughtful response within his own blog.

To summarize my points: Don’t publish to the world an RSS feed URL that you don’t own. I see it as no different from handing out thousands of business cards with an @earthlink.net address proudly printed on it — rather than one @ your own domain name. Cuz then, you’re married to Earthlink (or in the case of your RSS feed… Feedburner). If you switched services, your existing subscribers would all need to update their feed URLs in their news readers. And what’s the likelihood of that happening! I suggest, instead, one of the following two options:

  • Use a URL from your own domain then having your webserver redirect everyone to whatever your feeds.feedburner.com/[your-feed-here] URL. I found that some newsreaders (like NetNewsWire) choke on a “301″ permanent redirect, so for the time being you should stick with the standard “302″ (temporary) redirect, even though a 301 would be ideal from a SEO standpoint.
  • Alternatively, you could set up a DNS entry of feeds.yourdomainname.com (or whatever it is) to be an alias (a “CNAME”) to feeds.feedburner.com. Then, if you switch from Feedburner, you’d update the CNAME to point to the hostname of the new service. Note that the rest of the URL has to match exactly. I’ve set up my feed to work at http://feeds.stephanspencer.com/scatterings. (Note that this only works if you’re paying Feedburner Pro subscriber.)

This then got me thinking about moving to, rather than away from, Feedburner. Feedburner is a great service — particularly their Pro version. It has a lot to offer in the way of tracking subscribers, clickthroughs, and so forth. If you already have people subscribing to your RSS feed and you want to start using Feedburner, then you’ll need a way to drive those pre-existing subscribers to your Feedburner version of your feed. The way I’d suggest you do this is through a 302 redirect from your old feed URL to your new Feedburner feed URL, ideally with your domain name in the URL (using the above-mentioned CNAME approach).



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