Fairly Useless Feedburner Google Analytics Update

Feedburner apparently has integrated analytics with Google Analytics… woopie doo

I suppose it makes things simpler for people who weren’t already doing something similar for feeds, and at least they are segregating clicks between email and RSS, something their competitors for RSS > Email such as Aweber, Feedblitz, Mailchimp etc have been able to do for a long time.

What they can’t do is track RSS signups as a goal, and until they can do that from a marketing perspective RSS is fairly useless.

Google Reader is also still misbehaving – even if you use a 307 temporary redirect to your Feedburner URL, Feedburner evaluates the URL before offering the feed for subscription. You end up with split URLs in Google Reader depending on the signup method.




I have read of ways using iframes to spoof the signup process a little, but from a marketing perspective it isn’t really acceptable and no substitute for a real thank you page process that can also be defined as a goal.

Google still is driving the assumption that RSS should be free to share, and not measured, but they are losing that battle to Twitter – they have no support for authenticated RSS feeds, and you can’t prevent people sharing RSS content that might be personal, either sensitive data or paid subscription.

This severely limits the utility of RSS for paid subscription content, RSS use to monitor collaboration services, etc.

It is also a financial risk – ever licensed an image from IstockPhoto? I am not a lawyer but…

What happens if that image, which is licensed for 500,000 impressions ends up on the Digg home page and is spread virally accross the internet? At $1 per hundred additional viewers, an image that is seen by an additional 500,000 could set you back $5000 – Istockphoto are owned by Getty, hardly known for being generous to accidental image plagiarism.

Feedburner team… what happened to that open directory of Pingshot ping locations? Hell even just a current list of where you update would be better than nothing.

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  1. Paulita Abou-Aly says

    I know my blog seems more like a hobby since I have no active way to make money. It also has a hosting via google sites, [linked removed] which I have linked Amazon.com books and herbal remedy for natural healing. I know this is a very new concept so there are visitors but comparitavely few enrollments . Your opinion would be appreciated if there are viable options.

      • says

        Hi Andy,

        So…what do I do to fine tune it?
        Are there any redeeming qualities about my blog?

        Should I scrap it? Relate it to affiliate of products in the health industry?

        Thanks for your advice. Paulita

        • says

          I was referring to the Google pages which you had created, I didn’t look at the blog.

          Your blog has value, original content, but you would need to create a lot more content. If you can’t picture yourself writing 2 or 3 posts per week on the same topic, blogging is unlikely to be the best method for you earning an online income.

          When I first launched this blog I was averaging 3 posts daily – one day I even published 10 posts.

  2. says

    Hi Andy,

    I’m considering stopping my feeds altogether using some functions for WordPress. The feeds aren’t offering much value to many people other than the automatic scrapers.

    What I’ll likely do, since I don’t need the tracking at all, is to simply take FeedBurner out of the equation. I’ll just have to write my own custom RSS to email routine.

    • says

      There are various ways to create custom feeds – the primary feed could be switched to just excerpts, though ultimately the scrapers could be also scraping lots of links back to your other content.
      With the custom feed that could then be used for RSS to email, or you could just run an email mailing service to point people to articles of special interest.

      Some of what I write here that goes out in my RSS feed I know isn’t going to be of interest to a chunk of my readers, even the vast majority, but having it in the primary RSS feed means it gets more links, often more than 100 links per post, just through syndication.

  3. says

    OK I have been trying to understand the whole feedburner thing for a while now. I have created something on there, an account, wigit idk…. but the whole point is that I do not get the point of it nor can I understand how to make it work. I am a pretty intelligent person so I know it isn’t because I am computer and Internet illiterate, but now reading this I realize I can stop worrying about feedburner and stick with what I already have. Thank you for sharing this!

    • says

      It really depends on whether you have another way of measuring engagement with the content you create. People use Feedburner, but at the same time implement their own click tracking solutions using various Google Analytics plugins.

  4. says


    Have you ever heard of anyone having been their blog “Hijacked”?

    Twice last week I’ve had my blog (http://discountdental4u.blogspot.com) experience what I can only describe as being “Hijacked” where a posting I’d made the previous day was removed and replaced by an unwanted advertisement.

    Of course, as soon as I discovered this I deleted the advertisement and replaced it with my original posting but I can’t have this happen every time I make a new post which occurs 3-4 times a week. The only thing I did to stop this was to block all comments which I’ve done but I have no idea if it’s going to help.

    Although I have the name, address and phone number of the advertiser, I can’t simply call them up and demand they stop hijacking my blog because, frankly, I don’t know what to accuse them of doing since I don’t know what’s going on!

    Do you know of anyone whose had an experience like this happening to them and if so, do you have any advice what I can do to remedy the situation?

    • says

      Most likely an affiliate, or possibly something rogue within an advert using flash or javascript.

      If it is actually something within post content, you must have shared your gmail account somewhere – change password yesterday.

  5. Keyword link removed says


    I agree with Kim’s comment that at times, Feedburner just doesn’t feel all that user friendly. With its acquisition by Google, I’ve patiently been waiting for a more vibrant program, but updates seem to be slow in coming.

    On July 25, 2007, you posted ways to track RSS subscriptions through Google Analytics. Do you think that this step of integration is a sign that Google is moving in the direction of tracking “RSS signups as a goal”?

  6. says

    Kind of a tangent, but I’ve noticed that Google Chrome handles feeds into Google Reader in a very unusual way. I’m not sure if it’s only Google Reader in Chrome, but that’s the only feed reader I use. In Firefox, I can add a feed by clicking on the feed link, like andybeard.eu/feed, and it’ll recognize the feed and import it right into Google Reader. But in Chrome, the same link will, I don’t know, parse the XML file funny or something.

    I am a lawyer, and in the above photo/Digg scenario, I would definitely want to be collecting for Getty rather than defending the licensee begging off the charges as unauthorized or accidental.

  7. says

    RSS has always been vague and like what you’ve said, RSS wouldn’t have any value unless they’re able to completely track sign-ups. The way things are going with RSS, I don’t even bother seeing my subscriber counts because I really can’t figure out which are bots from the pile of real people.

  8. says

    Regarding to IstockPhoto – I wasn’t aware to this limit, so many thanks for raising this point.
    Do you know how IstockPhoto track the number of impressions?

    • says

      I am not a lawyer, but I think it would be down to a user to prove their usage numbers, which they wouldn’t be able to reliably due to image caching

      • Nusba says

        Thanks Andy, I asked the iStockphoto Support about this and they told me that they do not limit the page impressions or the views of the imagery.

        • says

          I deleted your link to a site that breaks my comment policy.

          iStockPhoto employees should read their own terms of service and license agreements. Ultimately that is the legally binding contract both under which they license photos to users, and which photographers supply photos to them under.

          If they are not sticking to their terms, then they are opening themselves to being sued by their photographers who supplied them with photos under that license.

  9. says

    I’m using FeedBurner and g.anlytics but still could not solve anlytics i. I do not know, but this is a problemmi very complex anlytics. google on this issue must be more precise. for example, may be 2 different interfaces. advanced and simple interface. But now google advanced and more sophisticated interface insist: (web site administrators all these issues is not a full professional in my opinion, and yet we are unable to benefit from anlytics. (my idea) … But FeedBurner is the best in the field, and Feedburner anlytics partnership works: ) Super. sorry for my bad english :( Waiting for your opinion about my idea:), thnx admin

  10. says

    Andy, this is my first time to your site. I was attracted by the headline I read, but I’m really fascinated by your comment policy and warning. I’ve never seen one quite like it. I wish other sites would do the same as it would cut down on all the meaningless comments one has to go through to find something interesting. For me this articled turned out not to be what I was looking for, but I learned something new from your comment section. Thanks

  11. says

    One thing that did get fixed at the same time which is worthwhile is integration between Feedburner and Yahoo Pipes.

    When Feedburner switched to the google infrastructure it totally botched up all Yahoo Pipes which manipulate RSS feeds from Feedburner. Apparently Yahoo has various rate limits on Pipes which it lifts for certain whitelisted IPs. Google didn’t inform Yahoo in advance of the switch, and after moving to the global infrastructure gave them a list of 500,000 IPs to whitelist.

    Eventually things seem to have been sorted.


    • says

      Hmm that is interesting… Feedburner for years had an option of blocking Yahoo pipes, which I switched on as a test – guess what, Yahoo still pull my feeds for pipes.

  12. says

    I think RSS is useful, but not that useful… I haven’t ever really used it. It’s good and all, and I like how it can bring back readers and stuff but I think I’d prefer an email list still.

    -Kris Roxas

  13. says

    Not sure why so negative. Sure, it’s not world peace, but it’s a step towards a greater integrated solution.

    Also if you want to track RSS subscriptions, you could try putting an event link on your RSS feed. Yes, far from perfect, but it’s better than nothing. It would at the least give you a relative measure if subscriptions are going up, and be able to look at trends in analytics.

  14. Sean says

    I know you aren’t a lawyer but I’m curious about something.

    If you spread an image that isn’t yours on the internet, you get busted, you have to pay and that’s it. But if one of the users who was watching that image, saved it and then uploaded it somewhere, who has to pay, you the original uploader or the second uploader?

    • says

      My interpretation as a non-lawyer is it would depend on who is hosting the file, or in the event of caching/cdn where the image was being pulled from.

      With stock images, the intent might be to allow all kinds of normal use, the problem is the legal wording doesn’t allow for typical use scenarios.

  15. says

    Yeah, I heard that Feedburner is not completely integrated into Google. They still have a lot to do, but no time to do it. Until then, it’s a lot of forced beta-testing. I’m sure they’re getting a lot of feedback on these bugs.