Every WordPress blog produces an RSS feed that viewers can subscribe to. But, you can’t track analytics and it is not optimized to be read easily on different devices. Feedburner is the top RSS feed delivery service. It’s owned by Google, it’s free, and it offers feed reader and email subscription options, tracks analytics, and optimizes the feed for the viewing device. Discover how easy it is to burn your feed with Feedburner and how you should link to it on your site.
Get a Feedburner Account
To use the Feedburner service you’ll need to set up an account. Since Google owns Feedburner, you can simply use your Google Account login. (If you don’t already have a Google Account, create one.)
Go to http://feedburner.com to get started.
Once your account is setup, you can burn your first feed. The image below shows three feeds I’ve already burned from BlogAid and how many subscribers they have. (Burning a feed simply means that the raw feed has passed through a feed service.)
On WordPress sites, the URL of the feed for the blog is usually:
http://www.mysite.com/feed or http://www.mysite.com/blog/feed
Test the URL in a browser before entering it in Feedburner. If the two URL examples above send you to a 404 error page, read Locate the RSS or Atom Feed for Your Blog for more options.
Be sure to keep a copy of your site’s raw feed URL. You will need it for other applications mentioned near the end of this tutorial.
Burn Your Feed
To burn your feed, copy the URL of your site’s raw feed and paste it into the input field at the bottom (shown in the image above) and click the Next button.
In the next screen you will be able to edit your feed’s title and copy the new feed URL.
IMPORTANT: Be sure that you copy the entire feed address. Part of the feed address is above the input box and the other part of the address is in the input box (and that is the part you can edit). In the example above, the full feed URL is: http://feeds.feedburner.com/BlogaidWordPress
Click the Next button to continue.
In the next screen you will be shown the extra features that were added for you and two more that you can add. Click the Next button to do so.
You will be presented with a page that has several tabs across the top. Since your feed is new, you will not have any data in the Analyze tab. But check back in a few days, or a few weeks, and you’ll see activity, depending on how many subscribers you gain.
To access a feed that is already burned, simply click its blue title after you log in.
Optimize Your Feed
Click on the Optimize tab. Then click on the SmartFeed link in the left column, as shown below.
Publicize Your Feed
Click the Publicize tab at the top.
Click BuzzBoost in the left column and Activate it. This will republish your feed in an HTML version for any devices that can accept it that way. In other words, it will look more like your actual blog post.
Next, click Ping Shot in the left column and Activate it. This will notify all participating services, including search engines like Google, that you have a new post available.
Click Email Subscriptions in the left column. This is where you get the code to make your feed available via email.
Once you Activate it, you will be presented with two sections of code. Scroll down near the end of the page and look for the one shown below.
The actual URL that you need is between the quotation marks after the a href= part. In the example above, the url would be:
How to Use Your Feed Links
Now you have three feed URLs.
- The first is the raw feed from your site.
- The second is the feed URL you received when you burned your feed.
- The third is the URL for the email subscription.
Each feed URL has a purpose. If you are offering subscriptions directly on your site, use the two from Feedburner. If you want to send your feed to other apps and platforms, such as Facebook, use the site’s raw feed URL.
Some WordPress themes come with the familiar RSS icon displayed in the header or navigation bar. Many have two. One is for the blog post feed and the other is for the comments. Unless your blog has tons of comment engagement, it’s not likely that many viewers will subscribe to them.
You’ll want to substitute the main Feedburner feed URL for the blog post subscription link. Then change the comments link to the one for email subscription. Check with your theme developer to discover how to make these changes on your theme if you can’t easily find the code.
If your theme has no built-in icons displayed, you’ll need to add them. Several social media icon plugins include them, such as the Social Media Widget plugin.
Feedburner supplies you with images and you’ll find them by clicking the Chicklet Chooser link in the left column when in the Publicize tab. You will find code for a variety of images with links, but they are only for the blog feed.
You could also make your own links, as shown in the example on the left. It’s just a small graphic image (16x16px) followed by a text link to subscribe via a reader (which uses the main Feedburner feed URL) or via email. Simply search for an RSS icon image and resize it.
There are plenty of news sources hungry for the info you have on your site and they will subscribe to your RSS feed. I couldn’t stay on top of everything happening in my industry without the aid of my Google RSS Feed Reader. I can easily cover 80-120 blogs a month and glean the best tips they have to offer with it. That’s where all that great info in Tips Tuesday comes from! You may have noticed in the first screenshot that I have a feed for Tips Tuesday where folks can subscribe. (You can too, via a reader or via email.)
Be sure to see the Related Posts below for more information on RSS feeds. There are also RSS feed related plugins that you’ll want to use too.