The Ultimate Guide to Setup and Use Feedburner

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A business plan sketch on a deskAlmost every web publisher and digital marketer holds a Google account. And, if you do so, you can take advantage of its stable, free, and reliable email subscription service called Feedburner to deliver your website's content right in the inbox of the subscribers. If you're new to this service, you can obviously learn everything about it through this guide. But, if you're already using Feedburner, you can still benefit from this guide by learning about some of its lesser known features or about some of the features you never knew existed. If your website generates an RSS feed, then you can easily use this service regardless of the underlying content management system used on the web server. If you simply want to deliver fresh and new blog posts to your subscribers, there's no reason to go for a premium (paid) service for the same. Feedburner can do it reliably with any issues at all. So, here we go to master Feedburner settings and configuration through a step-by-step tutorial. Open your Feedburner dash to kick-start the process.

A business plan sketch on a desk
Note: As a web publisher, the onus is on you to create exceptional content for your website's feed subscribers. If you're already doing so, set up a Feedburner subscription form, right now.

Read Also:
Easy Ways to Configure and Customize a WordPress RSS Feed


If you don't have a Google account, create one right now to access your Feedburner dashboard. Let's get started and learn the basics of this email subscription service.

Start with Initial Feed Burning Configuration

We'll start with adding our website's RSS feed URL to create a fresh new record within Feedburner dashboard. For that, you'll need to know the address of your website's feed.

Different content management systems use different feed address scheme. So, one must be aware of their own web site's RSS feed address. To make the initial setup easier, we'll discuss feed address scheme of popular CMS solutions.

Feedburner feed burning setting
You can note in the image above that even podcast RSS feeds can be configured for email subscribers. Similarly, there's an option to export all the feeds in the form of an OPML file. This way, you can easily import them into your favorite RSS feed reading application.

For offline analysis of your feeds data and statistics, one can use the 'Export as CSV' option. This exported CSV file can be analyzed in a spreadsheet application.

And now, let's move on to the important text input field shown in the image above. That's where you'll enter your website's RSS feed address. So, it's time to check out the RSS feed URL schemes of popular content management systems.


<!-- For WordPress, simply append '/feed/' to your website's address -->
http://yourwebsiteaddress/feed/

<!-- For Google's Blogger, append '/feeds/posts/default' to the site's address -->
http://yourwebsiteaddress/feeds/posts/default

<!-- For a Ghost Blog, append '/rss/' to the site's address -->
http://yourwebsiteaddress/rss/

<!-- For a Medium publication, prepend '/feed/' before the publication's name -->
http://medium.com/feed/publication-name

<!-- For a custom domain on Medium, append '/feed' to the site's address -->
http://yourwebsiteaddress/feed

<!-- For Tumblr, append '/rss' to the site's address -->
http://yourwebsiteaddress/rss

Through the examples given above, you can easily construct the RSS feed URL (platform-specific) for your website. You can test the validity of the RSS feed address through this tool.

During validation, this tool may display few warnings which can be safely ignored. After providing the feed address, you'll reach the next screen as shown below.

Feedburner feed name setting
Here, you have to configure two simple settings. The first one is the feed title used to visually distinguish the record from other feed entries within the Feedburner dashboard. Though you're free to give it any title, I'll strongly recommend using your website title for the same.


<!-- Use your website's name to configure your Feedburner feed address -->
http://feeds.feedburner.com/YourWebsiteName

The second important setting is your Feedburner feed address. Once again, use your website name without any blank space between words. The final feed address may look like as shown in the example above.

Thereafter, click the next button twice to reach the following important screen.

Advanced feed tracking settings for Feedburner
This configuration screen enables you to configure feed data tracking and the associated statistics. The basic and essential statistic collection options are activated by default. Rest of the options need to be configured manually.

Do check the first 'Clickthroughs' option to ensure you can see how many people go back to your website via link clicks from within the feed.

The second item enclosure downloads option should be left unchecked in a general case. In case you're configuring a podcast feed, you should definitely check this option to ensure easy podcast downloads right from within the feed entries.

And, the last one is the must-activate option for every web publisher. Activating this option ensures that the Feedburner platform will collect all the advanced data and statistics associated with the respective feed. Clicking the next button completes the first phase of the feed burning configuration.

But, this initial setup is not yet complete. The next important step is to redirect the native RSS feed URL to the Feedburner feed address. This is useful whenever a user attempts to subscribe through the default RSS feed address.

For self-hosted WordPress websites, use the following directive within the .htaccess file.


<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !FeedBurner [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !FeedValidator [NC]
RewriteRule ^feed/?([_0-9a-z-] )?/?$ http://feeds.feedburner.com/YourWebsiteName [R=302,NC,L]
</IfModule>

Google's Blogger platform users can use the following method to configure this feed redirection. Open the Blogger dashboard and select the blog for which you want to configure feed redirection.

Now, go to Settings → Other → Site feed section.

Blogger feed redirection settings
In this section, you have to configure the following two important settings. Firstly, set blog feed entry length to 'Until Jump Break' from the drop-down menu. This ensures that only post excerpts are available within the feed.

Just below this option is a text input field where you have to provide your blog's Feedburner feed address. This important setting ensures that the default Blogger feed is automatically redirected to the Feedburner feed.

For other platforms, refer to their documentation. Some content management systems provide no or extremely difficult way to configure such type of feed redirections.

For such platforms, you can add the following link tag within your website's <head> tag.


<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/YourWebsiteName" />

This doesn't ensure automatic feed redirection, but it definitely indicates the right feed address to search engine bots and crawlers. I'll strongly recommend once consulting with the respective platform's support staff before adding this link tag to the head of the HTML page.

After finishing this feed redirection process, our initial (preliminary) feed burning setup is complete.

Configure Essential Feed Publication and Distribution Settings

Once the initial settings are completed, one must configure the important settings to publicize and distribute the feed in a correct and easy manner.

To do that, first go to the 'Publicize' tab. Here we'll find all the necessary options and settings.

BuzzBoost: If you want to display latest feed entries in HTML format, you should activate the 'BuzzBoost' option. Following are the recommended settings for this HTML feed display widget.

BuzzBoost settings
These settings allow you to configure the number of recent feed entries to be displayed within the widget. If you prefer to open all link clicks in a new tab, you can configure that too.

Similarly, post excerpt format and its length can also be fine-tuned. And, if you want to give the widget, a custom title, feel free to pick one. Though content publication date can be included in the widget, I personally prefer to omit it.

And last but not the least, check the option of podcast media linkage (indicated in the image above) if you're burning a podcast RSS feed. Otherwise, leave this option unchecked.

Once all the options are configured and the service has been activated, use the following code to display the HTML widget on your website.


<script src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/YourWebsiteName?format=sigpro" type="text/javascript" ></script>
<noscript>
<p>Subscribe to RSS headline updates from: 
<a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/YourWebsiteName"></a>
<br/>Powered by FeedBurner</p> 
</noscript>

You must replace the dummy feed address (at both places) with the actual Feedburner feed address you're using for your website. You can drop this code within an HTML/JavaScript widget either on the sidebar or at your preferred location.

Email Subscriptions: Now, this is the most important Feedburner setting one should activate and configure without any fail. As the name implies, this service delivers fresh content to all the subscribers through an email.

To get started, click the 'Email Subscriptions' option and thereafter click the 'Activate' button. This action will take you to the 'Subscription Management' sub-tab.

Read Also:
How To Get And Retain Email Subscribers For Your Website


Here you'll get the Email subscription form code which can be integrated into the desired places on the website. Here's a sample subscription form code.


<form style="border:1px solid #ccc;padding:3px;text-align:center;" action="https://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify" method="post" target="popupwindow" onsubmit="window.open('https://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=YourWebsiteName', 'popupwindow', 'scrollbars=yes,width=550,height=520');return true">
<p>Enter your email address:</p>
<p><input type="text" style="width:140px" name="email"/></p>
<input type="hidden" value="YourWebsiteName" name="uri"/>
<input type="hidden" name="loc" value="en_US"/>
<input type="submit" value="Subscribe" />
<p>Delivered by <a href="https://feedburner.google.com" target="_blank">FeedBurner</a></p>
</form>

Feel free to format this email subscription form through custom CSS code. Place this web-form at key places like sidebar and footer. There's one more important setting on this sub-tab as shown in the image below.

Unsubscribe notification setting in Feedburner
This setting ensures you get an email notification whenever someone unsubscribes from your website feed. This can be useful if you consistently experience a high unsubscribe rate or get a seasonal phenomenon, every year.

There another important subscriber management option on the same sub-tab with the 'View Subscriber Details' link. If your feed record has zero subscribers, this link may not be visible on the sub-tab. Otherwise, it will be quite similar to the one shown in the image below.

Subscriber management within Feedburner dashboard
In far future, if you ever decide to switch to a different email subscription management platform, you can easily export your entire Feedburner email list in a CSV file. The subscribers' data in this file can be easily imported in a similar kind of external service.

If you want to weed out old unverified records from the list, you can use the delete button for the same as indicated in the image above. Similarly, there is a deactivation/activation button for every active subscription. It can be used to stop or start email delivery for the respective subscriptions.

The sub-tab 'Communication Preferences' can be skipped altogether. Its default state is good enough for most cases unless you want to provide a custom 'reply-to' address for the emails sent to the subscribers.

Next comes the important 'Email Branding' sub-tab. The two important settings that need to be configured on this sub-tab are shown below.

Email branding settings for Feedburner emails
By default, the Feedburner email's subject tagline is the website name you've earlier provided during the initial setup. But, there's a better solution to increase the open rate by many folds.

Prepend ${latestItemTitle} to the site name separated by your preferred dividing character. Now the subject tagline of the email will start with the title of the latest post followed by the site name. This way, readers can easily know what the latest post is all about even before they open the email.

The next setting brands the email with your website logo. Provide the URL of the same and make sure it's somewhere around 200x200 pixels. This size is just an indication for maximum compatibility and is not a strict requirement.

The rest of the typographic settings on this sub-tab can be utilized in their default state.

The settings on the last 'Delivery Options' sub-tab should be configured without any fail. Following are those critical settings explained in the image below.

Delivery timings for Feedburner emails
Depending on the geolocation of your website's target audience, choose the appropriate time zone. Thereafter, select the time window slightly before the peak hour to get the maximum open rate.

You can experiment and can fine-tune the email delivery time settings until you start getting good results. This completes the configuration of all the options related to email subscriptions.

PingShot: The next 'PingShot' service on the 'Publicize' tab is pretty simple and straightforward. Just activate this service without giving it a second thought.

It ensures that whenever fresh content is pulled by your feed, all the popular web-based feed reading services are preemptively notified about it. This helps in quickly distributing your new content across the web in a timely manner.

Rest of the options and services on the 'Publicize' tab can be ignored or skipped altogether.

Optimize the Feed for Maximum Compatibility and Visibility

Now, head over to the 'Optimize' tab to do the essential feed optimization. Here there are only three important options that need to be activated and configured. Let's go through them, one by one.

BrowserFriendly: By default, this service is enabled in advance by the Feedburner platform. In case you find it in a deactivated state, do activate it without any hesitation. There's no additional configuration required for this service.

Once activated, this service ensures that your feed is rendered and displayed correctly in all modern web browsers.

SmartFeed: This is yet another simple yet extremely important service option. Activating it ensures your feed becomes compatible with a wide range of feed reading applications.

FeedFlare: This useful service should be activated next. After activation, it requires some additional configuration.

Addition of interactivity in Feedburner feed
This service adds some actions beneath each feed entry. You can select your preferred actions as indicated in the image above. Adding this interactivity within feed enables the subscribers to easily share your content via different channels across the web.

Rest of the options and services on the 'Optimize' tab can be skipped.

Utilize Feedburner Statistics to Analyze the Feed's Performance

The rest of the tabs and options are more or less used for feed performance analysis and to detect and rectify problems, if any. Go to the 'Analyze' tab to start the feed analyzing process.

Let's quickly check out all the analytical data Feedburner has on offer on this tab.

Item Use: Here item refers to each post entry within the feed. This option tabulates the performance of feed items for a given time period. I always start with this analytics report, whenever I want to crunch my feed's data.

It's one of the best reports to quickly assess the performance of your feed content. A sample report is shown below.

Item use statistics for a Feedburner feed
The chart displays how many interactions are happening with the feed items on a daily basis. It gives you a fair idea about your feed's active or inactive state.

The all-important aggregate click data gives you the exact number of clicks on all the feed items for a given time period. It can be loosely compared with the volume of page views generated by the feed clicks.

The last important data in this report tabulates clicks for individual posts. It's an excellent table to find out the top performing articles in the feed for a given time period.

Subscribers: Next one is the vital report about feed subscribers. It contains tons of insightful data both about the subscribers' volume and the channels they're using for feed subscription.

The larger is your subscriber base, the richer is the data on this page. Following are the two important statistics displayed for your assessment.

Subscribers report in Feedburner dashboard
The first one is the daily active subscribers' count who's interacting with the feed items on the respective days for a given time period.

The pie chart quickly gives you an overview of the major feed reading channels consuming your feed. Right below the pie chart (not included in the screenshot) is the tabulated list of the same to get a clearer picture of prominent feed aggregators used by your subscriber base.

Uncommon Uses: This is yet another extremely important report to get a fair idea about uncommon, abnormal, or suspicious consumption of your blog feed.

It's an excellent tool to find out content farms that use automated scripts to populate spammy websites by pulling content from other sites through their feed.

Data about unusual uses of a Feedburner feed
Remember, all the referrer entries in this report are not necessarily a spam. A well-coded custom script may be displaying excerpts from your feed within an application in a unique way.

As shown in the image above, the table lists all such referrers. If you're suspicious about any such referrer, you can click the link in the table and can visit the source of the problem to take a closer look.

All the analytical data generated by Feedburner can be exported in both Excel and CSV format.

Miscellaneous Usage Guidelines and Troubleshooting Tips

And now, it's time to go through some of the generic tips and guidelines for managing the website's RSS feed. We'll also see some of the common troubleshooting tips, to rectify the issues related to the feed. Let's start with diagnostics and troubleshoot options.

And, for this, you need to click the 'Troubleshootize' tab.

FeedMedic: Fortunately, Feedburner provides an ample number of tools and options to diagnose and rectify feed problems, if any.

Its FeedMedic report automatically detects such problems and display them to the user as indicated in the image below. This way, one can get a fair idea about the problem affecting the feed.

Feedburner's FeedMedic report
If you're a busy website owner and don't have enough time to open this report on a regular basis, you can subscribe to this report's feed accessible via 'My Account → FeedBulletin' option.

As suggested in the first section, it's always a good move to validate your feed before burning it on the Feedburner platform.

Sometimes, minor issues associated with the feed can be easily resolved by pinging it once. This action triggers an immediate refresh process of the feed. In most cases, pinging a feed makes things good.

Feed resyncing option for the Feedburner platform
In case, pinging a feed doesn't work, use the powerful resync option. Clicking this button (shown above) initiates two actions. First, the existing feed cache is cleared from the Feedburner account.

Thereafter, the native RSS feed address is used to pull the content from scratch. This option should be exercised only after you've made troubleshooting changes on your website to fix a feed issue.

Self-hosted WordPress users can use this plugin to easily integrate Feedburner on the website.