Every WordPress blog produces RSS feeds. But, it’s better to deliver those feeds through Feedburner, which is owned by Google because it offers more features, like tracking analytics, more subscription options, and notifying Google that a new post has been made. Discover the plugins that properly redirect your site’s raw feeds to ensure that everyone who subscribes is counted and the content is optimized.
What Feedburner Does
Feedburner is a free service that is now owned by Google. It burns your site’s raw feed and provides several additional features for it, including optimizing the format of the content so that it will appropriately on the device on which it is being read whether that be a laptop or a phone. It also tracks how many subscribers your feed has, which is an important statistic for gaining ad sponsors. And, it offers more options for subscribing, via a reader or email. (More on how to set up a Feedburner account at the bottom of this post.)
What the Plugins Do
With all of the advantages that FeedBurner offers, it’s important to ensure that everyone who subscribes to your feed is sent to your FeedBurner feed address. Even if you include a link for that address on your site, readers can still just put /feed after your site URL and get the feed.
That’s what the feed redirection plugins take care of for you. No matter what URL readers use to subscribe to your feed, they will be redirected to your site’s Feedburner address.
The End of Feedsmith
For years, the most popular redirection plugin for FeedBurner was Feedsmith. But, it stopped working in early 2010 with the release of WordPress 2.9. Feedsmith was developed by Feedburner, but since Google purchased Feedburner, they have not replaced the Feedsmith plugin or developed a new one. In fact, you can no longer find the original Feedsmith plugin in the WordPress repository.
However, you will still find a lot of references that suggest you use it. As with all technology on all platforms, things change. Be sure to check the date of any post you find about plugins.
The In Between Way
There was a gap between the death of Feedsmith and any new plugin being developed. You’ll find several posts advising that you modify your .htaccess file or hard-code your raw site feed to redirect to Feedburner. There will always be two schools of thought on this and they are both right. Some purest believe the less plugins, the better, so that you are never at the mercy of them going away like the Feedsmith plugin did. But, the new plugins have been stable for years and offer more options that are easier to implement than dealing with your site’s code. So, do as it suits you.
Feedburner Feedsmith Extended
As is common in the developer community, when one person moves on from supporting a plugin, other developers take up the mantle and revise the code to make it better. Such is the case with the Feedburner Feedsmith Extended plugin. It goes beyond the original function of redirecting your blog and comment feeds. It can also redirect your category and tag feeds.
That extended capability makes this plugin my top pick. I use it on BlogAid because I have multiple category feeds for posts like Tips Tuesday and the BlogAid Podcast. (I send the latter through Feedburner to optimize it for iTunes too.)
FD Feedburner Plugin
One of the first replacements for Feedsmith was the FD Feedburner plugin. You simply input your main Feedburner address into its interface and you’re done. It can even forward your comments feed. It does not have the capacity to redirect more than those two feeds, though.
TentBlogger Redirect Plugin
One of the latest feed redirection plugins is TentBlogger’s RSS Redirection Plugin. It has a very simple interface to redirect both your blog’s feed as well as comments. It can only redirect those two feeds.
If you search the WordPress plugins repository from within your admin panel, you’ll find several more Feedburner plugins. However, be careful to read what they do, as several only provide a widget for your sidebar with links to your feed on Feedburner. They do not redirect your site’s raw feeds.
You can use both types, but it might be more advantageous to include links and/or icons to your feed in social media type plugin that offers icons for multiple ways folks can subscribe to your blog and follow you. One of my favorites is Social Media Widget. (See the video tutorial on it.)
Set it Up
It’s not enough to simply install a feed redirection plugin. You will need to configure it too. After installation, be sure to look for the settings link in all the usual places, depending on what plugin you use, including Settings, Plugins, Tools, or it may have its own top-level link in the admin sidebar.
More on RSS Feeds
If you are not advertising your site’s feeds, you’re missing a wonderful opportunity to constantly put your posts in front of your audience, including in their email box. If you’re not redirecting those subscribers to your Feedburner feed, you have no way to track your success.
For more on RSS Feeds, see the following posts.