Dec
19
2011

FeedBurner and WordPress – How to Easily Setup FeedBurner for Your WordPress Site or Blog

FeedBurner and WordPress

Setting up FeedBurner for your WordPress website or blog provides you with many benefits. If you know the steps to take it can also be done quickly and painlessly. FeedBurner is easy to use, as well as totally free, and WordPress comes with built in functionality that automatically generates the RSS feed needed by FeedBurner. In other words, FeedBurner and WordPress were literally meant to go together. This is great for you because it means most of the hard work has already been done. There are just a few simple things you need to do to setup FeedBurner to work with your WordPress site. In this tutorial I’ll show you exactly what steps you need to take to easily get FeedBurner setup with WordPress.

What Is FeedBurner?

FeedBurner is a free tool that allows visitors to subscribe to your blog via its RSS feed (if you’re not familiar, here’s a good explanation of RSS). It gives them the option to subscribe by email, or to read through a feed reader (such as Google Reader, FeedDemon, etc). Visitors who subscribe will easily see when you add new content to your site, which will encourage return visits and help you build a larger audience. For WordPress users, the best part is that WordPress automatically generates this RSS feed for you! Once you setup this RSS feed from WordPress with Feed Burner, you can simply forget about it and just update your website or blog the way you normally do.

Benefits of Using FeedBurner with WordPress

There are some other significant benefits to using FeedBurner with your WordPress site or blog. Besides making it easy for visitors to subscribe in multiple ways, FeedBurner will also provide you with valuable statistics about your RSS subscribers. Additionally, you can use your subscriber count from FeedBurner as a form of social proof to increase the credibility of your site. If your visitors see hundreds or thousands of people have already subscribed to your RSS feed they’re much more likely to subscribe themselves. FeedBurner also gives you some cool options such as the ability to customize your feeds (add logos for branding, modify headers), the ability to ping various feed readers automatically, and even the ability to integrate Adsense into your feed as a way for you to monetize it. All of these benefits, plus the fact that FeedBurner is free and works seamlessly with WordPress, are why almost all of the most popular blogs use it. Now that you can see the benefits, lets move ahead and setup your FeedBurner account…

Step 1: Setup FeedBurner to Read Your WordPress RSS Feed

To begin, you’ll need to know the URL of your WordPress RSS feed. If you use custom permalinks (which most WordPress sites do), your RSS feed will be at “http://yourdomain.com/feed/“. For example, my feed for AllWebmaster.com is “http://www.allwebmaster.com/feed/”. If you don’t use custom permalinks, your feed will be at “http://yourdomain.com/?feed=rss”.

Next, head on over to the FeedBurner site. FeedBurner is run by Google, so you’ll be able to use your existing Google account to setup your feed. Or, if you don’t have a Google account you can sign up for one for free. Once you’ve logged in or setup an account it’s time to burn your feed. Enter your feed URL in the input box and click “next” (see the screenshot below).

FeedBurner WordPress Setup - Step 1 - Burn Your Feed
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Finally, choose a feed title and a feed address. Your feed title will identify your feed in your FeedBurner account, and the feed address is the URL where you’ll send your visitors to subscribe to your feed. I like to choose a short, distinct title and a simple URL. Your URL must be a unique value so you’ll have to pick one that’s available. For AllWebmaster.com I set the feed title to “AllWebmaster.com” and the feed URL to “http://feeds.feedburner.com/allwebmasterfeed” (see screenshot below):

FeedBurner WordPress Setup - Step 1 Part 2 - Choose Feed Title and Address
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Your feed is now burned, good work! Now its on to step 2…

FeedBurner WordPress Setup - Step 1 Complete - Feed Burned
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Step 2: Configure Your FeedBurner Settings

Now that your feed has been claimed and burned at FeedBurner, its time to choose a few settings. The first settings you’ll see after clicking “next” from the step 1 confirmation screen, are your options for tracking statistics about your feed. A few stats are tracked automatically, but I like to get as many as possible so I generally add a few extras to also be tracked. Clickthroughs will keep track of the number of people who click on each item in your feed. If you want to know this (which I do) then select this option. Item enclosure downloads is essentially a download count, but it is most often used for podcast feeds. Since we’re just setting up FeedBurner for our website we’ll leave this option unchecked. Finally, there’s the “I want more!” option. This will track some extra stats like how many time each individual item in your feed has been viewed and the total reach of your feed. I like to have these stats so I always check this box. Once you’ve selected the stats options, click “next”:

FeedBurner WordPress Setup - Step 2 - Choose Stats Options
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That’s it, all your basic FeedBurner settings have been set!

FeedBurner WordPress Setup - Step 2 Complete - Stats Options Set
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Your feed is ready to be subscribed to. Before we move on to the final step I’ll quickly explain some of the extra configuration options under the “Optimize“, “Publicize” and “Monetize” tabs.

FeedBurner Optimize Settings

When you click on the “Optimize” tab in FeedBurner you’ll see several options on the left menu. You’ll want to activate BrowserFriendly, SmartFeed and FeedFlare. Below I’ll give you a quick summary of what these and the other optimize settings do:

  • BrowserFriendly – Allows potential subscribers to view your feed and subscribe to it cleanly through their web browsers. I recommend turning this option on.
  • SmartFeed – Automatically makes your feed compatible with other feed formats. You’ll want to turn this on so your visitors can subscribe to your feed using whatever feed reader they choose.
  • FeedFlare – This option adds some social sharing links to your feed items. I like to keep my feed as clean as possible, so when I turn this option on I usually just check “Email This” and “Share on Facebook” under the “Feed” column. You can add a couple extra sharing option, or don’t add any, based on your preferences.
  • Title/Description Burner – Use this option to add a new title and description to your feed if you don’t like the default ones. I’m happy with the default values of my feed so I didn’t bother to turn this option on for AllWebmaster.com

There are a few more options on this tab, but most aren’t necessary for your feed setup so I won’t cover them in this tutorial. If you’re interested in any of them just click on them and FeedBurner will give you a good summary of what they do. After going through the Optimize tab, this is what my setup for AllWebmaster.com looks like:

FeedBurner WordPress Setup - FeedBurner Optimize Settings 525px
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FeedBurner Publicize Settings

The “Publicize” tab in FeedBurner has a few more options for you on the left menu. I recommend turning on Email Subscriptions, PingShot, FeedCount and NoIndex.

  • Email Subscriptions – A very useful option to let your feed be subscribed to via email. After you turn this setting on make sure to set the from email address and personalize the confirmation email.
  • PingShot – Will send a ping to notify feed readers when your feed has new content. Most feed readers pick this up automatically, but it doesn’t hurt to turn this setting on as well.
  • FeedCount – Enabling this setting will allow you to display a box on your site with the number of your feed subscribers. You’ll want to turn this option on even if you don’t use the FeedBurner feed count box since many other plugins and services can be setup to use this number if you choose.
  • NoIndex – Prevents your FeedBurner feed from being index. I highly recommend turning on this option. If you don’t, its possible your feed might rank higher than your actual site for some keywords since the feed is hosted on FeedBurner (which gives it a high pagerank).

Once I finished configuring my Publicize settings, this is what the feed for AllWebmaster.com looks like:

FeedBurner WordPress Setup - FeedBurner Publicize Settings
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FeedBurner Monetize Settings

I’m not going to cover monetizing your feed in this tutorial, but this is the settings tab to go to if you want to. This is an option to include Google Adsense ads to your feed as a way to monetize it. To turn this option on, just login to your Adsense account and look for the “AdSense for feeds link” under “AdSense Setup » Get Ads”.

Okay, lets move on to the final step and have WordPress start sending your visitors to your new FeedBurner feed…

Step 3: Setup WordPress to Send Visitors to Your FeedBurner Feed

The final step in setting up WordPress to work with FeedBurner is to make WordPress automatically send visitors to your FeedBurner feed. In other words, I want to have visitors who type in my WordPress feed address (http://www.allwebmaster.com/feed/) be automatically re-directed to the URL I selected when I was setting up FeedBurner (http://feeds.feedburner.com/allwebmasterfeed).

This is easy to do, and there are several methods. You can setup a 301 redirect to do the job, or you can simply activate a WordPress plugin that will do everything automatically for you. For AllWebmaster.com I went with the 301 redirect approach using the Redirection plugin to set it up. If you want to keep things simple, you can install the “FD Feedburner Plugin” through your WordPress dashboard. Activate the plugin and change the settings (under the Feedburner Settings sub-menu you should see in your dashboard now that the plugin is activated) so the plugin knows what your FeedBurner URL is. Another plugin that does the same thing is “FeedBurner FeedSmith“. This is the plugin Google recommends on FeedBurner. Either plugin will work, although I prefer FD Feedburner a little more.

Once you’ve activated one of theses plugins or setup your 301 redirect, your WordPress feed address will now be forwarding visitors to FeedBurner and your visitors will be able to subscribe to your feed. I like to take things one step further and setup my RSS feed so visitors can also choose to subscribe via email. If they subscribe via email they’ll receive an automatic email notification from FeedBurner when new content is added to your site. FeedBurner checks for new content daily, so if you update your site daily your email subscribers will receive an email every day with the new content you added (on days when no new content is added to your site they won’t receive an email). Allowing visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed via email is a great way to notify your audience of new content and increase repeat visitors to your site. I highly recommend giving them this option.

How to Allow Email Subscriptions to Your RSS Feed

To allow email subscriptions to your FeedBurner feed you’ll need to update one simple setting. Login to your FeedBurner account and click on the “Publicize” tab. You’ll see a box on the left side menu for “Email Subscriptions”. Click this. At the bottom on the screen click the “Activate” button.

FeedBurner WordPress Setup - Allow Email Subscriptions to Your FeedBurner Feed
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You’ll now see the “Subscriptions Management” page, which will provide you with some html code to add the subscription form to your website. Feel free to customize the styling of the form using HTML and CSS if you feel comfortable, or use the “Subscription Link Code” to send your visitor to subscribe to your feed through the FeedBurner site. Also, don’t forget to customize the from email address subscription notifications are sent from, and the confirmation message, using the “Communications Preferences” sub-menu of “Email Subscriptions”.

Examples of the AllWebmaster.com FeedBurner Email Subscribe Form and Subscription Link

Here are examples of what the default FeedBurner email subscribe form and the subscription link code look on your site. They both work, so if you want to subscribe to the AllWebmaster.com RSS feed feel free to subscribe using one of these:

Enter your email address:

Subscribe to AllWebmaster.com by Email

FeedBurner and WordPress Are Setup and Ready to Roll!

That’s it, you have now setup FeedBurner and WordPress to work together automatically! Your visitors now have the ability to subscribe to your site via an RSS reader or email, and you now have access to useful stats about your subscribers and a nice subscriber count your can show off. I hope you found this tutorial useful. If you liked it, please subscribe to the AllWebmaster.com RSS feed or subscribe via email. Also, please take a second to “like” the AllWebmaster.com Facebook page using the Like Box below. Thanks!

About the Author: Dana Duncan

Hi, my name is Dana, and I've been building websites for over 12 years. It's a topic I'm passionate about and enjoy teaching. Here at All Webmaster.com I teach people how to create and run websites, and show businesses how to build or improve their web presence.

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Dana Duncan About Picture

Hi, my name is Dana and here at All Webmaster I teach people how to build websites. I've been creating websites professionally for over 12 years and this is where I'll share the things I've learned so you can build your own website and get people to visit it. [More about...]

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