Will Google shut down Feedburner and what do I need to do now? That’s what millions of site owners have been asking since the summer of 2012. Google has been systematically shutting down every site attached to the service they paid $100 million to acquire just a few years ago. Whether they actual kill the Feedburner service any time soon is irrelevant now. Everyone who depends on RSS feeds for driving traffic and revenue has lost faith that it will be around in the future and they are jumping ship early. Most others are re-evaluating the role RSS plays, and can play, in their overall marketing efforts and looking for suitable alternatives. There is no one-size-fits all strategy for leaving Feedburner. This post will help you determine which alternative RSS feed tactic is best for your needs now and in the future.
This post is necessarily long and I suspect you’re going to scroll through it for relevance to your situation. Here’s a quick topic list to help you find the different sections by header.
- Feedburner News – a wrap up of what’s happened and why it’s time to seek alternatives.
- Your Site Needs – a short list to help you identify how you use RSS feeds so you can pick the best alternative service.
- Alternatives to Feedburner by Site Needs – gives you the Pros and Cons of different alternative solutions based on what you need to accomplish.
- How To Switch – specific info and links to help you make the switch.
- More on Each Service – details on the alternate services listed as good alternatives plus a few more notable mentions.
Rumors started flying this summer about Google potentially shutting down Feedburner and by fall the news got more alarming. This quick wrap up will help you understand what all the talk is about and why I finally decided to leave Feedburner and am advising my clients to do the same.
More of What We Know
This summer, murmurs began at NAMS that Google may be dropping Feedburner. You can read all about the reports in my August post Will Google Shut Down Feedburner? At the time, a body of evidence was growing that Google was pulling out. They had shut down their Feedburner Twitter account and announced that the Feedburner API would be inactive by October 12, 2012. But, the biggest shock was when they announced a shut down of Google AdWords for feeds. In short, they were pulling their only revenue stream out.
What Happened Next
In early September, Google allowed its Feedburner Japan domain to expire. Without warning, all RSS feeds tied to it went dead. There has never been a peep out of Google about it.
In mid September, Feedburner users were shocked to find that the count on their subscriptions had gone to zero. It was a bug, and feeds were still working. Google got it fixed, but it took them five days. That alone scared enough folks to put moving their RSS subscriptions on the front burner, including me.
Time to Go
I’ve used Feedburner for many years and have all of my clients set up with it. I launched several new client sites recently and told each one that I would be changing their feed service soon. For me, Google’s recent actions and lack of announcements has turned into a tech support person’s nightmare. I had rather move my sites and those of my clients now to something I believe will be around tomorrow rather than hope and wait and perhaps end up moving them all under a state of chaos later.
Your Site Needs
The RSS feed alternative that works best for you depends entirely on your site needs and budget. Before you glance through the alternative options, here are a few things to consider to help you decide what needs you have:
- Do you have a small or large RSS subscriber list? (small = 200, large =2000+)
- Do you have a small or large RSS to email subscriber list?
- Do you currently run or want to run a newsletter?
- Do you currently use an email service like MailChimp or Aweber?
- Do you want to offer a digest of your posts via email?
- Do you have a podcast?
- Do you offer any of your post Categories via RSS feed?
- Are you an affiliate marketer?
- Do you depend on RSS feed revenue from ads and/or traffic?
- Are you redirecting your site’s raw feed to FeedBurner via your .htaccess file?
- Are you redirecting your site’s raw feed to FeedBurner via a plugin?
Alternatives to Feedburner by Site Need
Scroll through the list and identify your site and RSS subscription type to find your best alternative.
Low Volume RSS Subscriber Alternative
If you have a low subscriber rate to your Feedburner RSS feed now, and if you don’t intend to promote subscription to grow that list, you have a couple of free options.
- Revert back to your site’s native raw feed. (It will look something like this http://www.BlogAid.net/feed)
- Use the JetPack plugin.
- Use one of several free plugins that allow public subscription. (See them in the resources at the end of the post.)
Pros: It’s free. If you use your native RSS feed, it is independent of any plugin or third party. As long as you have your site, you have your feed under your control. The JetPack plugin allows you to offer RSS feeds via email.
Cons: No stats to track. No option to optimize your feed to auto-detect and format for the device on which it is being read. Can’t directly offer your feed via email (only via plugin). Can’t transfer existing subscribers, you’ll have to notify them via your blog and hope that they re-subscribe to the new feed URL.
Moderate Volume RSS Subscriber Alternative
If you have several hundred subscribers to your RSS email, you’ll want to retain as many as possible with the least disruption. (You can only export your email subscribers.)
- You can import your email subscribers to either FeedBlitz or RapidFeeds and your subscribers will never know they have moved.
- Import your email subscribers to MailChimp and use the RSS to email feature.
- Import your email subscribers to Aweber and use the Blog Broadcast feature.
Pros: The process is seamless. You’ll have all of the functionality you had before and more. The MailChimp RSS to email functionality is part of the free service.
Cons: RapidFeeds and Aweber are paid services. FeedBlitz is free for RSS, but paid for RSS to email.
High Volume and Affiliate Marketing Alternative
If RSS feeds are a staple to your traffic and revenue stream, you need to be on a paid service.
- Your best bet is either FeedBlitz or RapidFeeds as an all-in-one solution to RSS and email marketing and more.
- Your next best bet is FeedBlitz for RSS and Aweber for email marketing.
- Your third option is MailChimp for RSS and email marketing.
Pros: An all-in-one solution like FeedBlitz and RapidFeeds allows you to manage everything about your feed marketing campaign including feeds in readers, via email, integration with social media posting, post digests, newsletters, stats, and more. You can split your services to get the RSS portion from FeedBlitz for free while retaining your current paid Aweber service for emails and newsletters. If you have under 2000 subscribers, you can use MailChimp as an all-in-one solution for free, but see the caveat below.
Cons: FeedBlitz, RapidFeeds, and Aweber are paid services. The pro version of MailChimp is paid too. All of them offer so much that the interface is complex and there is a learning curve. For affiliate marketers, you need to be careful about what you send in MailChimp feeds and emails. Their policy is a bit too gray about exactly what they do and don’t allow and they can shut down your account without warning over it. There are no such restrictions with the other alternatives mentioned.
Feedburner includes SmartCast, which properly formats a podcast feed for listing on iTunes. There are several alternatives that actually work better.
- Blubrry PowerPress is a popular WordPress plugin that adds iTunes compliant feed formatting as well as an audio/video player, and stats in your WordPress Dashboard. (If you are already using PowerPress with your Feedburner feed, see the How to Switch section for details on updating your feed URL.)
- RapidFeeds and Feedity offer iTunes compliant podcast feed formatting as part of their all-in-one services.
Pros: Blubrry is free. The above listed paid services can handle far more than your podcast feed needs.
Cons: Feedity and RapidFeeds are expensive for only handling podcast feed formatting but are better if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution. I saw no way to import existing subscribers into Feedity.
How to Switch
Switching from Feedburner can be fairly easy with a few of the alternatives and rather complex with others. It really depends on what you need to set up. Therefore, the info below is not exhaustive. Most of the paid services come with good tech support, tutorials, and migration help if you need more info.
Podcasters, you have to jump through a couple of extra steps. They are near the end of this section.
If you have questions, I’ll help you the best I can. Please do read through this post first, visit the alternatives that interest you. Then contact me if you still have questions or concerns.
Do not close your Feedburner account! You’ll need it for redirection later. More below.
Export FeedBurner Email Subscribers
You can only export your Feedburner email subscribers. You cannot export those who have subscribed in a reader. (There are other ways to retain the reader subscribers, more below.) To export email subscribers, login to Feedburner and click the feed title. Go to the Publicize tab and click Email Subscribers > Subscription Management. Click on “View Subscriber Details” and then click the option to “Export CSV” file. This is the file you’ll import to another service. (If you want to see the file contents, open it in Excel or another spreadsheet program.)
Get New Account
Set up an account with the alternate service of your choice. Import your email subscription list to the new service.
Immediately change all of the subscription icons and links on your site to this new service. This includes:
- Social follow icons anywhere on your site.
- Links anywhere on your site to your Feedburner feed. (If you have them on multiple posts, don’t worry, there’s an easy way to do this with a redirect. More below.)
- In your subscription footer.
- In your author resource box, if you have it there.
- In any free reports or other downloads where you included it.
Alert Your Readers
If you have a high volume of subscribers via RSS readers, alert them via a blog post and email/newsletter that you are switching to another service. State that they will have to re-subscribe. (If they subscribe to your RSS feed, they’ll get the info via your blog post.) Be sure to include the new subscription link!
Delete Your FeedBurner Feed and Use Redirect
(Delete the feed, not your Feedburner account!) After a feed has been deleted, Feedburner offers a free 30 day redirect to the new one. You set this up during the deletion process, so be sure to have your new feed URL on hand. In the first 15 days of this 30 day period, subscriber requests for your feed will be redirected to your original source feed. During days 16-30, this feed consists of a single content item that reads “This feed is no longer active. A new feed is located at” followed by the URL of your original feed.
Keep in mind that if Google shuts down Feedburner entirely, this redirect feature will not work.
User Feedburner to Continue Redirection
After your 30 day redirection period, go back to your Feedburner account and set up a new feed. This time, instead of using your site’s raw feed URL, use the URL of your new feed service.
Delete Any Other Redirects
If you are using any type of redirection to ensure folks who type in your raw site feed are sent to your FeedBurner feed, you’ll need to update/delete those too. The two most common ways are via the Feedburner Feedsmith Extend plugin and via your .htaccess file.
If you have the plugin, deactivate and delete it. If you are using your .htaccess file, edit it to the new feed URL.
Redirect via CNAME
Dave Winer, often called the Father of RSS, offers two ways to redirect in this thread on The Future of Feedburner. In it he offers tips to use CNAME to map your feed so that it will still redirect even if Google shuts down Feedburner in such a way that no redirects are offered through it.
If you are using your Feedburner podcast feed for PowerPress, go to its iTunes and Feed settings. Look for the setting to turn off FeedBurner SmartCast. Then find the link for “new-feed-url” and Activate it.
To redirect your feed using a 301 redirect via your .htaccess file, read this post from PodcastFAQ about Changing Your Podcast RSS Feed Address URL.
To change your podcast feed URL in iTunes, read this post by Dave Ravenscraft, the Podcast Answer Man on How to Change Your Podcast RSS Feed In iTunes – iTunes Redirect.
More on Each Service
In this post I’ve mentioned the tried and true alternative services that I believe will work best for you. However, there are many more services you may want to check out. And, there may be other WordPress plugins you want to try as well. Below are links to all of the services mentioned above plus a few more that are worth mentioning.
FeedBlitz – has long been the direct competitor of FeedBurner. While keeping the RSS portion of the service free, they offer a substantial array of additional tools and services in the paid version including email marketing with daily sends or weekly/monthly digests, newsletters, and social feeds. Phil Hollows has even created a super FeedBlitz Migration Guide that you can download for free. And, they will help you migrate your existing feeds to their service.
RapidFeeds – is a paid service and the direct competitor of FeedBlitz. It offers RSS and email, social posting, podcast formatting support, and branded feeds.
Aweber – is a paid service and offers RSS to email services in addition to their regular email list service. You can also send digests of your posts. And it connects to your social media platforms. Plus, it’s safe for affiliate marketers.
MailChimp – offers RSS to email services in addition to their regular email list service. It adds links for your posts to your regular email or creates a standalone RSS campaign of them. You can set it for immediate sending as you post, or in a weekly or monthly digest. It’s free for up to 2000 subscribers.
Feedity – is a paid service that offers blog and properly formatted podcast feeds.
FeedCat – offers RSS, bookmarking, sharing and proxy services. It’s free.
Mad Mimi – is an email newsletter creation service with an RSS to email add on.
JetPack – is a free plugin that offers multiple functions in an all-in-one solution. One of the features is RSS to email subscriptions.
Subscribe2 – is a WordPress plugin that allows folks to publicly subscribe to your posts and have them delivered via email. You can set the frequency of delivery.
Subscribe by Email – is a premium plugin that works on regular and multi-user sites.
I hope this post has helped you find a suitable FeedBurner alternative. If you have other suggestions, please tell us what you use and why you like it in the comments below. If you need more help, feel free to contact me directly.