There are a lot of things I wish I had done differently when I started blogging in 2009. One of them being the set up of my RSS Feed. When I started blogging I didn’t know what RSS really is or does, all I knew was that I need it and followed some instructions on setting it up. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized that I need to make a few changes.
What is an RSS Feed?
RSS (Rich Site Summary) delivers your content to those who want to stay informed. Instead of visiting each site individually readers can subscriber to each site’s feed and receive it in their news aggregators. There are many aggregators available such as Google Reader, Bloglines, My Yahoo etc. It basically takes your new content and delivers to these feed readers so people can stay current. Don’t ask me about the technicalities of it because I’m as clueless as you are.
If you are running your blog on wordpress, which most of you probably do, it already has a built in feed (http://yourblog.com/feed) so you don’t need to do anything. However you may still want to use a RSS feed management service and tools such as free Feedburner or premium service such as Feedblitz. These help you track subscribers, provide you with valuable stats and other tools such as social media buttons and more.
Redirecting Your Feed
Often when bloggers set up their RSS feed, usually through feedburner, they start redirecting their feed to feedburner. So http://yourblog.com/feed points to http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourblog, usually a plugin (Feedburner Feedsmith) is used to accomplish this. The problem is that when readers decide to sign up for your feed it will NOT be on your domain, instead it’s on feedburner. This leaves you at the service providers mercy, if they decide to close down shop your readers will be lost or if you decide to change the service provider for some reason you may end up losing your readers. There is an easy solution for this.
Have your feed on your own domain!
The best thing to do is to keep your feed on your own domain. So your feeds should be http://feeds.yourblog.com/yourblog or something like that and you do this by setting up a redirect through your host. Confused yet? Don’t worry I’ll give you step-by-step instructions to accomplish this.
How to have your feed on your own domain:
1.) You will need to go to your DNS setting and set up a CNAME. If you are with hostgator (recommended. Use code: howimakemoney for 25% discount) then login to your cpanel and scroll down to Simple DNS Zone Editor. If you are not with hostgator contact your host.
2.) If you are using Feedburner go to My Accounts then My Brands under services. It provides you instructions on how to set it up. Basically copy the Feeds CNAME and enter this in the CNAME section of your DNS Editor. Make sure you copy it EXACTLY as it is.
3.) In the name section enter Feeds. Then click on Add.
4.) Go back to feedburner and enter your feed address in step two. It probably will be feeds.yourblog.com.
5.) Scroll down and activate the service.
6.) If you are using feedsmith or other redirection plugins or methods you need to change it to point to your new feed address. In most cases it will be feeds.yourblog.com/yourfeedburnerfeedaddress (the section in the green in the below image). This will ensure that yourblog.com/feed points to your new feed address hosted on your own domain.
It will take some time for it to propagate through the internet so check in 24 hours to see if it works.
Now your feed is hosted on YOUR domain, this is good for your brand and SEO and it will also make things easier if you need to change anything in the future.
What will happen to current subscribers?
Existing subscribers won’t notice anything they will continue to get your feed delivered, unless you change something, however new readers will be subscribed to your new link on your own domain. If you decided to change your RSS Feed manager service down the line they will continue to get your feeds, however the subscribers to the older link may not if you deactivate your current service.