Friday, January 12, 2007

Don't Split RSS Subscribers Like Me!

Want to learn from my mistakes? Ok then, here you go:

When I set up the VLLB in 2004, Blogger was only offering Atom feeds for syndication. I've never really cared what format my feed was in, Atom or RSS, I just want to make the content accessible. So, back in the day, I decided the best way to go would be to offer both feeds, you know, just in case... wrong!

I've blogged before how I like Feedburner for tracking RSS subscribers, but I want to warn new bloggers before they make this same mistake. By splitting my RSS offerings, I have created three different channels to track my syndication efforts:
  • VLLB Feedburner - 126 subs
  • VLLB Atom - 62 subs (bloglines count)
  • VLLB RSS - 15 subs (bloglines count)

Not only does this make tracking difficult, but it also leaves the question: How many people are bypassing my feedburner feed for the raw feed? I'm using bloglines for the subscriber counts above (which for this blog, has traditionally been about 50% of the total subscribers), but that's only a rough estimate.

And I know about 301 redirects, and about the wordpress plugin, but this is Blogger (that's another post...), and there's little recourse. The obvious -- and hindsight being perfect -- solution, would have been to fix this early on.

Now, if I had to do it over again... I would:

1) offer a single format, RSS;
2) mix all my content sources into a single feed (including my Slaw efforts);
3) not publicize that feed at all; and finally,
4) make that single source, run through Feedburner for metrics, my only RSS offering.

It's probably too late for the VLLB, but if new bloggers can take something away here, please do. Finally, I have to ask: If you don't read my official feed, would you mind changing it? ... I'm not shutting anything down here, so if you read another feed (thanks!), the content's still coming. I'd just appreciate it.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steve ---

Got some advice for you.

Your blog has metadata that advertises the two raw feeds: [blogurl]/rss.xml and [blogurl]/atom.xml. So, even though your "official" feed link that you added goes to your feedburner feed, the page advertises to autodiscovery subscribers (Firefox Live Bookmarks, etc.) the two raw feeds.

To fix that, you must replace the <$BlogMetaData$> token in your template, which is what is emitting the advertisements in question. If you look at your blog page source and compare it to your template, you will see what that tag emits. Specifically, you need to replace the link tags which advertise the raw feeds with link tags that advertise your feedburner feed.

Here's a link to an article in the feedburner forums that describes how-to in detail: http://forums.feedburner.com/viewtopic.php?t=3377

That should at least force all future subscribers to get your feedburner feed.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Steve Matthews said...

Fantastic advice Peter! thank-you.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Dominic Jaar said...

Why "not publicize that feed at all"?

3:58 AM  
Blogger Dominic Jaar said...

Btw, you will note on my blog that I only have one feed on the right side, that is almost hidden. However, it seems that I have an atom and an RSS as well. I realized that by going on feedburner. I guess, as Peter pointed out, it is part of my template...

4:05 AM  
Blogger Steve Matthews said...

Dominic - I wouldn't publicize it because that feed would be the input for feedburner. The resulting feed from feedburner would be the one I would publicize.

BTW, I put Peter's suggestion into place, and it's working great. Thanks again Peter.

7:31 AM  

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