Analytics news and expert advice every Thursday.
New Feed Subscriber Stats & User Interface For Google Webmaster Central
Google Webmaster Central has
gone live with a new "subscriber stats" area showing statistics of how many
people read your feeds through the iGoogle personalized home page and Google
Reader, as well as a new look and user interface for GWC. Below, more about
both, as well as issues for those tracking feeds through services such as
I like the new look, and Google says it is designed to better group similar
tools and reports together. Here’s the overview page:
Off to the left, you can see a box with the five main groupings of tools and
Select an option, and the tools and reports within that option are nicely listed and
explained. Here, I drill into statistics:
That produces a screen clearly showing me major statistic types I can view.
New in the Statistics area are the Subscriber Stats:
Nice! Now I can see exactly how many Google subscribers I have for the feeds
I provide. Oops, not so nice. Trust me — I have more than 3 subscribers on our
most popular feed!
What’s wrong? Well, I have to do some checking (and will postscript when I
hear back). But the first issue is that I never gave Google these feed
addresses. My assumption is that it knows I’ve verified the searchengineland.com
domain, and it also sees that within
Google Reader that there are
some feeds that match that domain, so it is automatically listing them.
The problem is we use FeedBurner. We give FeedBurner a "hidden" feed that is
on the searchengineland.com domain. Then FeedBurner gives us back a URL that runs
through the FeedBurner system. Because we use the MyBrand service (see
Stay Master Of Your Feed
Domain and Google
Makes FeedBurner’s TotalStats & MyBrand Free for more about this and why you
should also use it), our feeds come back using the feeds.searchengineland.com domain.
For example, our main feed is here:
Now for Google Webmaster Central to know that this is my feed (and show me
stats), I need to verify that I own the feeds.searchengineland.com domain. To do
that, I need to put a meta tag on the domain’s home page or upload a special
file to the domain.
Uh oh. See, go to feeds.searchengineland.com, and you’ll find that this
redirects you to FeedBurner. Hey FeedBurner — I told you ages ago that MyBrand
owners needed to control the home page! Yes, it really is my domain — but I
point it at FeedBurner, and they make sure the actual registered feed addresses
work. But there’s no way for me to upload a file to the domain or put meta tag
on the home page. Thus, I can’t get
this domain in Google Webmaster Central.
I’m sure that we’ll see a fix come along for this. However,
that fix will be much harder for anyone that doesn’t use MyBrand. In those
cases, the feeds use FeedBurner’s own domain. There’s no way for anyone but FeedBurner
to register those. The same will be true for anyone that uses any tracking
service that doesn’t use a domain they can verify.
What to do? Well, if you’re using FeedBurner already (it’s a great product
and now fully free, so definitely try it), you’ve already got these stats. Go
into Feed Stats, then Subscribers, and the pie chart there shows you subscribers
by reader. Google Feedfetcher is the combined figure for those using iGoogle and
Google Reader. Right now, I’m told I have 7,446 subscribers.
How many of those are in iGoogle versus Google Reader? Well, remember the
Google Now Reporting
Number Of Users Per Gadget article that I wrote back in June? No? Yeah, well, you’ll
read it now.
That article explained how any feed in iGoogle is considered a gadget, and
for any gadget, you can find the number of subscribers. Checking on
my feed in iGoogle, I’ve got 1,528 "users" or subscribers. So now do the
math: 7,446 – 1,528 = 5,918 subscribers are hitting me through Google Reader.
Like I said, hopefully Google will come up with a solution for those hosting
feeds on domains that can’t be verified (a brute force method is to look at your
logs. See Google Reader
Reporting Subscriber Numbers, Offers New Publishers Guide and
Google for more about that).
On the plus side, some sites have many feeds they don’t bother tracking. Our
Sphinn forum site is an example of that. We
have a variety of very specific feeds that we’ll never set up tracking for,
since they aren’t likely to be used much. This new tool is wonderful for discovering
Now I can see how feeds that I don’t bother tracking with FeedBurner are doing.
Should any one become particularly popular, I might then decide to redirect that
feed through FeedBurner, for better tracking.
The tool is, of course, very helpful for any site that doesn’t bother with
feed tracking at all.
Another nice feature of the new UI is how you can switch between sites you
have verified. For example, if I’m viewing Sphinn stats, I just click on the
down arrow next to the URL, and I can jump to one of my other domains:
Finally, one more change for Google Webmaster Central. It’s now available in
Turkish and Romanian, bringing total languages supported to 20.
isn’t already showing the correct language for you, then according to
go to the Google home page and set your language using the preference option.
For Webmaster Help Center,
which also gets the new languages, go over to the right top corner and pick the correct language there.
Discussion groups in those languages will also open soon.