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Feed Control: Redirect RSS feeds to FeedBurner and AdSense using CNAME

by James Fielding 25. March 2010 11:02

If you are anything like me, then you spend a significant amount of your professional life thinking about "what ifs". What if a system's user does this? What if a hacker does that? What if the good people at Google mistakenly sell FeedBurner to some evil people, who in-turn take my redirected RSS (or ATOM) blog or news feed hostage?

Whether your using Wordpress, BlogEngine.NET, or another syndication CMS, many administrators look at moving their feeds to FeedBurner to monetize their feed using AdSense, or to gain access to some great syndication and analysis tools.  Some of these people happily redirect their subscribers directly to FeedBurner's feeds at http://feeds.feedburner.com, without a second thought. 

BE FOREWARNED: If at some point you are unhappy, and decide to leave, you can't simply redirect your feed elsewhere, again. This would be known as "committing blogicide", as you won't be taking your old subscribers with you; you're just redirecting the new subscribers. This is obviously less than ideal.

As it stands today: Don't worry, you may be OK. If you decide to leave FeedBurner, as of this post's publish date, the good people at Google have provided tools to transfer your feed elsewhere. Having said this, if you've linked directly, you'll be relying on their system to exist in the future to do the transfer. Everything else being equal, I'd prefer to have control, rather than give it away and rely on someone else. After all, it's my feed. I should own it.

Here's how you keep control of your feed:

  1. Determine if your hosting provider will allow you to create a CNAME entry in your site's DNS records. This may sound complicated, but it's not. If you're using a shared hosting account, you may be able to do this through your control panel, or you may have to email your helpdesk to do it for you. Check you provider's knowledge base, or email their helpdesk directly to get a straight answer.
  2. You'll also need to be able to add subdomains to your site. It is common to name your feed subdomain something like "feeds.mysite.com" or "rss.mysite.com". You don't need to add the subdomain, yet. We'll do this in step 5. But, if you are in doubt about if/how to do this, check it out with your helpdesk, too.
  3. If step 1 & 2 are doable, log into your Google's FeedBurner account. If you haven't already set up a FeedBurner feed for each of your existing feeds, do so now. Just so there is no confusion, I'm going to rephrase what we're doing here: In this step we're telling FeedBurner where you currently publish your xml feed files on your site.
  4. While still logged into FeedBurner,  go to My Account > Services > MyBrand. Here you'll find the critical CNAME entry snippet. It will look something like:

    feeds CNAME xxxxxx.feedproxy.ghs.google.com

    where "xxxxxx" will be replaced by your FeedBurner account's unique ID. More...

Sciosoft Systems is a Canadian web design & development company based in Muskoka, which is in central Ontario. We provide ASP.NET website & Windows Server application development services to small and medium-sized business, as well as local government and not-for-profit groups. If you have a website project you’d like to discuss, please visit us at www.sciosoft.com.

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