In Jennifer Slegg’s 25 Tips To Optimize Your Blog For Readers & Search Engines post from yesterday, tip 22 was to use your own domain name. I wanted to dive a bit deeper into that in terms of having your own domain name for your feeds, which is incredibly easy and cheap to do via FeedBurner. Moreover, failure to maintain control of your feeds by not using your own domain is one of the biggest mistakes I feel many marketers make.
I love FeedBurner. I’ll say it again – I love them. They make it incredibly easy for me to understand how many people are subscribing to my feeds, not to mention make optimizing and maintaining those feeds easier than having to poke around at them manually.
FeedBurner is free for all the key features you could want. When you sign up with them, you’ll get a feed URL like this:
The YOUR-FEED-NAME-HERE part will be whatever you decide to call your feed. But notice the bolded part? The domain you’re going to use is FeedBurner’s domain.
Now let’s say two years from now all the great people at FeedBurner sell the company and have a nice retirement. Evil FeedBurners take over and the service becomes sucky. You decide you want to use another tracking service. Oops. You can’t take your feed with you. That’s because you’ve been using the FeedBurner domain all this time.
Fortunately, the folks at FeedBurner aren’t evil. In fact, they’re so not evil that they make it easy to have your own domain. OK, it could be easier to find this option, absolutely. But hey, that gives me something to write about.
What you want is FeedBurner’s MyBrand service. They explain it all here. It’s going to cost you. Oh, how it will cost! All of $3 per month for up to 3 feeds. Look, that’s well worth the tiny investment for even the smallest blog. Pay it. [NOTE: Since this was written, MyBrand become a free service].
Go into your FeedBurner account. Use the My Account link at the top of the page. You’ll see an option called MyBrand. Choose that, and you’ll see a screen like this:
To make this work, you need your hosting provider to create a CNAME entry for a new subdomain you’ll create. If they can’t do that easily for you, find a new hosting provider. I highly recommend ours, Tiger Technologies. Cheap, easy for you to do this yourself, plus Digg-tested.
For me, I simply make a subdomain called feeds for any domain I’m dealing with. Since searchengineland.com is our main domain, our feed domain is:
Once I’ve created this, the MyBrand magic lets FeedBurner take control of where the domain points to. That let’s me turn the FeedBurner feed address for us into:
But wait — I thought it was about keeping control? Relax. I’m giving them control because I want to. If they went all evil, I’d just change the CNAME record and point that subdomain to wherever I want. I own the domain. I control where it ultimately points to.
A few more tips. The way FeedBurner works, you have to feed it a “hidden” feed that you don’t show the public (or ideally, you shouldn’t show this — more in a moment). Then it gives you back a URL that you should promote. So…
- Set up the MyBrand service
- Burn your feed with FeedBurner, giving it the hidden feed to draw from
- Get the “public” feed address that FeedBurner gives you
- Replace the feeds.feedburner.com part with your own feed domain
- Only use this modified version with the public
It’s super important to make sure you change that feeds.feedburner.com part. Even if you activate MyBrand, FeedBurner will still give you the feeds.feedburner.com version of your URLs. This happens if you use things like the Chicklet Chooser feature to make those little subscribe buttons. You don’t want the feeds.feedburner.com part to be out to the public anywhere. And feature request to FeedBurner — if I enable MyBrand, just make my domain show up in all these places!
Finally, a lot of blogs will have feeds created at a default location, say
Or similarly, maybe you’re already running a feed under your own domain and are thinking of using FeedBurner. In either of these cases, burn your new MyBranded feed. Then redirect the traffic from your old feeds to the new one. You maintain control — it’s still your own domain — but you also ensure that all your subscribers get counted.