The fruits of my labor.
Yesterday, I spent a good part of the day updating my site’s
.htaccess file to redirect requests for my WordPress-generated feeds to my corresponding FeedBurner feeds. This included the main feed for my site as well as individual category feeds for my Book Support categories.
I discussed why I wanted to do this in a previous article, “The Definitive Guide to Apache mod_rewrite,” which includes a quick book review of the book I found extremely helpful to complete this daunting (for me, at least) task.
.htaccess file included a few
RewriteRule statements to point most feed requests to my FeedBurner feeds. I say “most” because, for some reason, I couldn’t get one of the
RewriteRule statements to work.
Having trouble understanding what the heck I’m talking about? Here’s a way to look at the situation:
Think of all of the incoming feed requests as a flow of water coming into my site. I don’t want that water in my site — I want it at FeedBurner’s site so I can measure it and ensure consistent outflow. My
Redirect statements are like pipelines, each of which gathers a specific flow of water and delivers it to FeedBurner. I need one more pipe to capture the last trickle of water coming into my site. I think I have the right pipe, but the water’s not flowing into it.
(Sometimes I really do get carried away with analogies.)
Anyway, this morning I checked my Feedburner subscriber numbers. After all, if I started sending FeedBurner more of my requests, there should be more subscribers, right? The result had me pleasantly surprised: I had about twice as many subscribers today as yesterday for my main feed. It’ll be interesting to see what tomorrow’s number looks like.
I also made some changes to the category feed links (those tiny orange icons in a post’s header) so they’re redirected to the corresponding Feedburner feeds. Of course, this was only for my Book Support category topics. I don’t have a FeedBurner feed for every category on my site, so I couldn’t redirect them all.
What’s the benefit of a FeedBurner feed? Two obvious things that I can see:
- Feedburner can track the number of subscribers to a feed, so you can instantly and easily see how popular a feed is. It also provides a bunch of other stats to help you understand what subscribers are interested in.
- Feedburner’s BrowserFriendly feature takes ugly feed code and turns it into a Web page. So if someone clicks a feed link, they get something they can actually read in their browser. Best of all, there are buttons near the top of the page that make it easy to subscribe with a bunch of different popular feed readers. This is a great feature to convert newbies into subscribers.
I’m not completely done messing around with
.htaccess on my site, but I’m taking a break from it. Sometimes when I hit a block, the best thing to do is walk away for a while and come back to it. I’ll get that last pipe working — but not today.
Anyone interested in seeing the
.htaccess commands I used? Use the Comments link to let me know and I’ll put them online in another post.