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Tracking Feed Stats Without Losing Control

So a lot of bloggers, including me, use Feedburner to track feed stats right? For a long time I wouldn’t go anywhere near them, as i just couldn’t have a url like http://feeds.feedburner.com/MyBlogName associated with my blogs.

What if FeedBurner went bust? What if they suddently required me to show ads in my feeds, or what if they hiked their prices up sky high? Gaining feed subcriptions is gold, every single subscription is valuable, and to put those subscriptions out of your control by hosting them on somebody elses website just seems like asking for trouble.

It doesn’t have to be that way though.

MyBrand PRO

A few months back, they quietly introduced MyBrand PRO where instead of the somewhat scary urls you get with the standard FeedBurner account, you can appear to host the feed yourself. Your urls look like this: http://feeds.performancing.com/performancing

Much better eh?

With a new blog, and new feed, setup is pretty simple. Create an account if you dont already have one, “burn” your feed as instructed, and then check out the instructions on this page to setup the MyBrand PRO address. You do need to setup a CNAME entry, and it will cost you a couple of $$’s a month, but it’s well worth the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have control over your feeds url.

If you’re hosting on an Apache server, as most of you will be, and you dont want to manually change the feed address in your templates, you can just add this to your .htaccess file in your blogs root directory:


RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^myfeedurl.rss http://feeds.myblogurl.com/myfeedname [R=301,L]

Where myfeedname is the same name you gave your feed when you originally burnt it.

Warning: Don’t mess with this CNAME stuff, if you’re 110% sure how to do it, have your host do it for you.

Existing Feeds are a bit Trickier

And when i say tricky, i mean they can be a right royal bastard to get working. You have to avoid creating an infinite loop of redirects.

If you do as i explained above, you could end up doing this:

  • Pointing MyFeedURL.rss at feeds.myblogurl.com/MyBlogName
  • Which in turn, is trying to read the feed from MyFeedURL.rss
  • which is redirecting to feeds.myblogurl.com/MyBlogName
  • And round and round she goes…

Confused? Sure you are, who wouldn’t be?

The Trick

The trick is, to find a different way of accessing your feed. An alternate url for the same feed, perhaps an atom feed, or an old RSS version could be enabled, or as on a Drupal blog, via querystring, like this: /?q=node/feed and feed that url to FeedBurner.

Then it will all flow nicely:

  • MyAltFeedURL.rss is sourced by FeedBurner, to create your feed
  • MyNormalFeedURL.rss points to feeds.MyBlogURL.com/MyBlogName via .htaccess
  • (the feed created by FeedBurner)

  • feeds.MyBlogURL.com reads MyAltFeedURL.rss
  • No nasty cirlce, see?

Yes, it is a headache doing it with an existing feed, but in my opinion, not nearly as much of a headache as having probably the most important url on your blog, your feed hosted by a third party! Due to the CNAME changes, they still in fact host it, but the point is, you control the url.

If anyone has any questions, go right ahead, but i can’t promise to have all the answers, this stuff makes my head hurt heh…

Im going to post about some of the actual metrics you can track with FeedBurner next, for now though, im all tech’d out!

Author: nickw