Monday, August 06, 2007

10 Ways You Can Use Feedburner to Improve Your Blog

Back in February I noticed something interesting; my daily feed readers had caught my daily traffic. That got my attention, so I started spending a lot more time analyzing my feed statistics, and a lot more time analyzing Feedburner. I quickly found that Feedburner has a ton of great features that every blogger should be using to deliver, optimize, and track their content.

1 - Burn a feed. Just sign up for a free account, give your feed a name, ( and there you go. And once you burn your feed.....

2 - Add subscriber buttons to your site. You can add a generic RSS button, or choose from dozens of others such as ones for Google Reader, Netvibes, Bloglines, etc. Just pick the button you want, your blogging platform, and Feedburner gives you the HTML code! And readers are more likely to subscribe if you offer a button for the reader they are already using and familiar with, so it helps to give your readers a few options here.

3 - Track your subscriber stats. This is where the fun starts! Feedburner lets you see how many people are reading your feed each day, where they are coming from, what browser they are using, what type of feed reader they used, and many other stats. One advantage is that you can tell which feed readers your readers are using to access your feed. For example, I started out having just a generic Feedburner chicklet, plus one for Bloglines. But I started tracking my feed stats, and noticed that many people are also accessing my feed by reading it through Google Reader, Netvibes, and NewsGator, so I added buttons for those readers as well.

4 - Consolidate your feed tracking if you have a Blogger/Blogspot blog. If you have a Blogspot blog, this is big news. Feedburner has added the ability to redirect all your blog feeds to the one you burn with FeedBurner. The advantage to doing this is that you can get a much more accurate view of how many subscribers you have, and how they are reading your content. I did this a few weeks ago and my reported number of daily feed readers almost doubled. FeedBurner's blog has the skinny on how to make the switch.

5 - Give your readers the ability to subcribe to your feed via email. This is a great way to give your readers another option for receiving your content. Many people that are interested in getting your feed in their inbox probably aren't able to read your blog on a regular basis, and want to use the email option to stay up to date. FeedBurner offers a handy little form you can add to your blog, and then lets you see exactly who is subscribing to your feed via email, and how many times the feed is being read each day via email. I added this back in April, and am now up to around 35 subscribers. Doesn't sound like a ton, but over a month's time, that's over a thousand times my feed is being read via email that might not have otherwise. As always, the more options you can give your readers to let them read your content on THEIR terms, the better.

6 - Track your visitors and site stats. Feedburner also lets you track how many visitors your blog is getting and where they are coming from. Just add some simple code to your blog's template, and you are good to go. The package isn't exactly the most robust I've ever seen, but if you just want to get an idea of how many people are visiting your blog and want content they are looking at, this does the job just fine. Also, Feedburner just made several of its stats services free, that they previously charged for.

7 - Add Feed Flares. These are great to give your feed a level of interactivity with your readers. You can add flares that display how many comments the post has, how many Technorati links, let your readers email you, etc. Flares are also available to let readers add your post to, Facebook, Digg, and other social sites.

8 - Put a Headline Animator in your emails and on your blog. This is a neat little feature that you can add to your emails and blog that gives your blog's name and scrolls the title to your latest posts, with a link to them. It also has a subscriber button for the feed. I haven't started using this feature yet, but it seems like a great way to promote your posts in your email sig.

9 - Track item use. This lists you see how many times your posts are being viewed, and how many times readers are clicking through to the blog. As with other stats, you can customize it to look at daily, weekly, monthly, and all-time results. A good way to see how popular your posts are, and could suggest which ones readers want to click on to read the comments.

10 - Link/Photo splicer. This service lets you send links you have added to bookmarking sites such as, and photos from sites such as Flickr. Both your bookmarks and photos will be merged with your blog feed.

The bottom line is that Feedburner has so many great features that they are bound to offer some that any blogger can find value in. And their recent acquisition by Google has already brought about some great changes for bloggers. If you're ready to get serious about optimizing your blog's feed, Feedburner has all the tools you'll need.

PS: If you want to subscribe to The Viral Garden's feed, just click here!

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Carol King said...

Hi Mack, I too find Feedburner an extremely usful tool and since Google has taken over, you can now get many of the services that you used to have to pay for, free.

This is another reason, along with all the great ones you have outlined, why everyone who is offering feed on a blog should be using Feedburner.

Have a great week.
Carol King

Anonymous said...

Feedburner is absolutely great for feed management, something that two or three years ago far fewer people were thinking about. Not only that, but they're some of the savviest people around.

But the true test of any company is the ability to provide such service and value to users that those users are moved to write articles like this one.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mack,

Great post on Feedburner.

I'm a Feeburner'holic and it's awesome to see I'm not alone.

One comment. I found the headline animator to be difficult to use unless you also enable BrowserFriendly. As most people were clicking on it and getting an RSS feed that their browser didn't know what to do with. Or if it did, they certainly didn't. ;)

P.S. I'm guilty of adding those google, bloglines, etc. buttons to my site after seeing them on yours and LOVING them.

Anonymous said...

This is a gold mine of useful information. I've not had much time to use all of Feedburner's tools since they opened it up, so this a great primer. Thank you!

Mack Collier said...

Absolutely Carol. We Blogger bloggers almost always get the short end of the stick vs the other blogging platforms, good to see that Google acquiring Feedburner is helping to even the scales a bit.

Chris I knew you would offer a testimonial for Feedburner ;) And Sean I added those extra buttons after I started actually using Feedburner to analyze my feed readers. I assumed most were using Bloglines to read my feed, but I found out that Google Reader was most popular, and Netvibes is about even with Bloglines. In fact I have noticed that the number of readers that access my feed via Bloglines has consistently fell throughout the year. While Google Reader, Netvibes, and to a lesser extent NewsGator, are all rising.

Not sure if that's what other bloggers are seeing, but...

Going Like Sixty said...

I saw Armano's tweet about your post:
I used to have all the RSS buttons, but took them off because I read that they just clutter up the site.
Do you feel strongly about having all the buttons?

Mack Collier said...

Going Sixty, I agree, I think it's easy to go overboard with too many buttons. The buttons I have on my blog (Bloglines, Google Reader, NewsGator and NetVibes) account for a combined 81% of my feed readers. None of the other readers account for more than 2% of the total, so I don't want to add any more than I have now.

I think after you get past 4 or 5, you're getting into the 'cluttered' zone ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good explanation of Feedburner's features. I had signed up some time ago, but was confused as to how everything works. However, I just got the new buttons added to our blog today!


Going Like Sixty said...

Thanks for answering my follow up

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, Mackster!

Practical info.

Unknown said...

Awesome post Mack, very helpful.

One question I've been dying to know the answer to, I'm wondering if you have any insight: I have three separate feeds in Bloglines (rss, atom, xml I think?), but it would be great to have them combined into one number. Do you know if this possible.

Is there a tip jar for technical support here?!



Anonymous said...

Hey Mack,

I'm seeing the same thing. bloglines is down to less than 20% of my subscribers now.

Wondering if everyone knows something I don't? I'm still using bloglines... ;)

Mack Collier said...

Dino I don't know if you can do that through Bloglines. The point I mentioned in Tip #4 will consolidate the feeds and how many times they are viewed from Feedburner's end, if you have a Blogger/Blogspot blog. I *think* you can do this with a Typepad blog as well. If you have a Typepad or Wordpress blog, try Googling "redirect feed feedburner" and the name of your blogging platform.

Sean, Netvibes is now over double what Bloglines is per number of times my feed is accessed with that reader. Bloglines is at 10%, Google Reader is 41%, Netvibes 23%, and NewsGator is 6%. I think Google Reader has been stealing a lot of Bloglines' users for a while now.

Chris Brown said...

Thanks so much for this post. It's chock full of really great info. It's going to take several read-throughs for me to act on all your suggestions, but this is great. I love how you make something that I consider pretty complicated much more understandable.

Stuart said...

Linking to feedburner is great for feed managment; however, if you use blogger and post your site map to google and other search engines there are errors because the blogger site map of is redirected to feed burner and this messes up your site getting indexed.

Not sure how to solve this problem?

TOMAS said...

Wow, thank you. While reading your article, everything looked so simple.
Feedburner can help greatly in attracting the audience to the picture galleries, but does it promote the archives too?
What to do with old posts? How to know id anybody reads them or are they just increasing the time of blog loading?

yani said...

thanks man for that explanation