Set Up Feedburner RSS Feeds For WordPress The Right Way

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RSS feeds are an integral feature of blogs allowing readers to combine posts from their favorite websites into one location using an RSS reader. Set up Feedburner and your WordPress installation correctly to ensure you get the most out of Feedburner and your readers get the best experience out of your feed.

Since Google Reader has been discontinued, I now use Feedly as my RSS aggregater.

Using Feedburner to promote your blog via RSS is greatly beneficial to boost your readership and keep track of the number of readers/subscribers your blog has.

Set Up Feedburner

First, sign up for a Feedburner account. You’ll need to fill in some minor details including your blog’s name and the original feed address. The default installation of WordPress gives you an RSS feed located at:
http://www.{yourdomain.com}/feed/

Note down the full address of your Feedburner URL, for example, ours is http://feeds.feedburner.com/inscribd/.

WordPress Basic RSS Setup

rss feeds

Your WordPress theme may include an RSS button that automatically links to the default feed, http://www.{yourdomain.com}/feed/

You’ll want to change this to your new Feedburner URL. Every theme is a little different, so have a look in the WordPress dashboard widgets or theme customization.

WordPress Reading Setting

In your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > Reading.

There are two options to take note of.

First, “Syndication feeds show the most recent {x} items”. Choose the number of posts you want your feed to output.

Secondly, “For each article in a feed, show: Full text or Summary”.

The Summary will be your post’s excerpt or the first few lines. If you want readers to click through to your main site in order to read the article, select Summary.

If you want to give readers the full experience of reading your articles in their feed reader of choice, select Full Text.

I can’t overstate how important this simple setting is. Your choice of Summary or Full Text could have a huge impact on your readership, advertising revenue on your main site and reader respect and loyalty. I can’t give you a straight answer for what is right or wrong. There are both positive and negative consequences to each choice.

Inscribd has chosen to provide Full Text to the feed. It’s up to you, though.

WordPress Advanced RSS Link Change

When you look at the page source (all the HTML code) of your website, the WordPress theme will include code in the header that links to your RSS feed, but it will be linking to the default URL, not your feedburner URL.

You need to change this. You want to make sure all feeds relating to your blog go to the same place – that is, Feedburner.

If you look at the page source of your website, search for:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Feed" href="http://www.yourdomain.com/feed/"/>


The href needs to be updated to your Feedburner URL, like what we have in our page source:

feedburner rss feed source

You CANNOT use a redirector plugin that sends traffic from http://www.{yourdomain.com}/feed/ to http://feeds.feedburner.com/USERNAME/, even though those plugins do exist. DON’T use them!

Why? Because Feedburner gets the source of your feed from http://www.{yourdomain.com}/feed/, so redirecting it back to Feedburner creates a loop. That’s no good.

Instead, you’re going to have to dive into your WordPress theme’s code.

WordPress Theme functions.php

The easiest way I’ve found to do this, that covers every theme available, is to add some code to a file located in your WordPress theme folder.

You can do this by either logging into your webhost’s control panel and find the File Manager, or edit the file locally and re-upload via FTP, or through WordPress itself (depending on your edit permissions, go to Appearance > Editor).

Browse to the folder: /wp-content/themes/THEME_NAME/

Find the file named functions.php and open it up (or view it in a text editor).

At the bottom of the file, just above the last line “?>”, paste this code:

function go_custom_rss_feed( $output, $feed ) {
if ( strpos( $output, 'comments' ) )
return $output;

return esc_url( 'http://feeds.feedburner.com/YOUR_FEED_NAME/' );
}

add_action( 'feed_link', 'go_custom_rss_feed', 10, 2 );

function featuredtoRSS($content) {
global $post;
if ( has_post_thumbnail( $post->ID ) ){
$content = '
' . get_the_post_thumbnail( $post->ID, 'medium', array( 'style' => 'margin-bottom: 15px;' ) ) . '
' . $content;
}
return $content;
}

add_filter('the_excerpt_rss', 'featuredtoRSS');
add_filter('the_content_feed', 'featuredtoRSS');

You will need to change where it says “YOUR_FEED_NAME” to your Feedburner feed name. Make sure the address is correct before saving the file.

What we have in this custom code are two things.
1. Changing the default header RSS link to the Feedburner URL, function go_custom_rss_feed().
2. Adding your post’s featured image into the RSS feeds, function featuredtoRSS().

That’s the hardest part. Now for the fun.

Feedburner Customization

Optimize

Now that you have your blog feeds pointing to the right place, it’s a good idea to customize Feedburner so that you give the best experience to your readers and also benefit from higher subscriber rates.

Let’s go through the configuration together. Once you have logged in to Feedburner and looking at the main dashboard of your feed, click on Optimize.

BrowserFriendly

Under Services in the left-hand column, select BrowserFriendly.

set up feedburner

For Appearance Options, tick everything.

For Content Options, you’ll want to enter a customized message describing your blog. Sell yourself to potential readers. Make sure you tick Enabled. Activate/Save.

SmartFeed

SmartFeed makes your feed compatible with any feed reader application.

Click on SmartFeed in the left-hand column, and Activate.

FeedFlare

FeedFlare puts a link at the bottom of your feed asking readers to share your post. This is essential if you want to get more readers.

rss feed

You can also add “personal” flares. You’ll notice that Twitter is missing from the list of options. Never fear. I found it for you.

Copy this URL into the box ‘Add New Flare’:
http://www.feedburner.com/fb/static/flareunits/twitthis.xml

Select the links you want to appear at the bottom of your feed. Feed means the link will appear in the RSS feeds. Site means they will appear in a website that grabs your feed. I recommend you tick both.

Then Activate/Save.

Title/Description Burner

Customize this section with your blog’s title and description.

wordpress rss

Then Activate/Save.

Publicize

Next, click on the Publicize tab. Delivery Options

In the left-hand column, select Delivery Options.

feedburner rss email

Set the appropriate timezone for your audience and the time when you want Feedburner to email your subscribers. Morning is always a good choice.

Then Activate/Save.

PingShot

In the left-hand column, select PingShot. Be sure to Activate it.

There are more options you can configure in Feedburner, but what we’ve done so far is an excellent start. But we have one more thing to do in WordPress.

WordPress SEO With Yoast Plugin

To round out your RSS feed customization, you’ll what to make sure you have Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin installed. You can download it from the WordPress website or search for “Yoast” within your WordPress dashboard Plugins > Add New.

This plugin is excellent at optimizing a lot of your WordPress blog’s meta tags, allowing you to rank better in search engines.

Yoast’s plugin has an RSS section. We shouldn’t ignore all the awesomeness of this plugin, but I’ll only discuss the RSS section to stay on topic.

Once the plugin is installed, go to SEO > RSS.

yoast rss

What you can do is add text before and after the feed of each post. Be cautious what you add to the “before” area because some feed readers will show this as the “excerpt” of your post. I have left it blank so that instead, those feed readers will show the first few lines of the post.

There are also variables that can be used to customize each post and HTML is also allowed.

I have used %%POSTLINK%% – A link to the post, with the title as anchor text.
I also use %%BLOGLINK%% – A link to your site, with your site’s name as anchor text.

Enter a personalize message and links back to your main website.

Done

So there you have it. Enjoy and happy blogging!



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