When Feedburner was acquired by Google in mid-2007, we were all excited about the potential. As time progressed and Google really began to own and better develop its vision for the tool, Feedburner became increasingly useful. But with some recent emphasis on link wheels and automatic updates, there is a very good chance Feedburner could be killing your SEO strategy without you ever knowing.
What Is Feedburner?
Feedburner is simply a free online service created by Google that allows you to automatically send email updates from your blog. Updates are sent via RSS feed reader or through email. Feedburner provides you with customized tools to promote your feed.
For example, they have an email subscription widget you can easily add in the sidebar of your blog. You can easily log into the Feedburner interface and see how many people are following your blog, this is nice too.
Benefits Of Feedburner
Feedburner does have benefits. In fact, people commonly rant and rave about the promotional tool. Here are some of the reasons why people like Feedburner.
- Users are updated each time a new blog goes live
- Feedburner promotes repeat visitors and blog loyalty
- The service is free and easy to set up
- You can track your subscribers
- Email delivery can be customized to match brand look and feel
- The content delivery enhances the chance of social media shares
- The email subscription widget is easy to install
OK, so now that we have defined the service and listed some pros, let’s dive into a con many people are unaware of, the negative effect it can have on SEO.
How Feedburner Hurts Search Engine Optimization
If you work in SEO, or marketing in general, you are most likely knowledgeable of the idea of a link wheel.
To elaborate for the purpose of being clear, a link wheel is simply the idea that each time you publish a piece of content that content is distributed to multiple other online properties in order to generate backlinks to the original piece of content. From an SEO perspective, this is clearly advantageous as each post results in tens to hundreds of backlinks pointing at your website.
There are many important items to consider when creating link wheels – anchor text, page rank of destination sites, what keywords the ranking sites are visible for, the time duration between updates of ranking sites, level of unique content published on ranking sites, and so forth.
While this is the case, none of this will matter if you are using Feedburner. In fact, your link wheel will be ineffective for the purposes of SEO. And those RSS feed links, which you worked so hard to add to Squidoo pages, Hub pages, get approved by AllTop and feed into external blogs, will count for nothing.
The issue with Feedburner is inherent in the name, thus, it burns (or alters) your RSS feed and channels it through a Google enhanced URL. Emphasis on “Google Enhanced URL.”
For example, originally your RSS feed primary URL would look like this:
The links listed in your RSS feed would simply be the links to the blog posts you are publishing:
But when you burn your RSS feed using Feedburner the primary URL would look like this:
And the single post URL would look like this:
So why does this matter? Well think about it. Sure, it is great that this link will be live on other sites. Maybe someone will subscribe to your RSS feed as a result and you could even get some referring site traffic out of it. But should you rely on getting link juice from that link? (see editor’s notes below.)
The beauty of RSS feed enabled link wheels is that they allow you to continually get fresh back links to your site each time you publish a new post. If you use FeedBurner, these posts will not support your SEO. This is definitely something to keep in mind when considering whether or not to use the service.
The Solution To FeedBurner
If you are using FeedBurner, there is of course still hope. The solution is fairly simple actually. Simply make more than one RSS feed! This solution will actually result in a better RSS syndication strategy for you in the long run.
Hopefully your blog or website has individual categories. Assuming those categories are keyword specific, you can create RSS feeds promoting the content in each categories. You can then filter those RSS feeds into themed lenses or profiles, not utilizing FeedBurner, of course for the reasons stated. This will result in more relevant RSS updates to the profiles and better backlinks which are more specific to individual sections of content.
Now that you have RSS feeds which are specific to keywords and support your link wheel strategy, you are free to use Feedburner to support your main RSS feed. Just be sure you don’t use Feedburner feeds on external sites. Unless your goal is to increase your FeedBurner subscriber base, which is a valid strategy, you will not be fully supporting your SEO goals.
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Editors Note: As pointed out in the comments below, there’s a way to switch off redirection within FeedBurner, which would solve the concerns above. Beyond that, since 2009, Feedburner has been doing 301 redirection for all URLs (FeedBurner Goes 301 All The Way), which means link juice does pass from FeedBurner URLs (and this was an option from before 2009).
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.