Are you letting Feedburner hold you hostage?

    June 23, 2005

I don’t have a problem with Feedburner (I use their service myself and I think it’s great), so please don’t think that I’m picking on them.

But wouldn’t the last thing we would want to do as bloggers be to publish to the world an RSS feed URL that we don’t own? I see it as no different from handing out thousands of business cards with an address proudly printed on it – rather than one @ your own domain name. Cuz then, you’re married to Earthlink (or in the case of your RSS feed Feedburner). If you switched services, your existing subscribers would all need to update their feed URLs in their news readers. And what’s the likelihood of that happening!

So what can we do about it? Using a URL from your blog’s domain then having your webserver serve up a 301 “permanent redirect” that redirects to whatever your[your-feed-here] URL could be a good option, except for the fact that some news readers choke on the redirect (such as NetNewsWire).

Hopefully the news readers and web-based aggregators will all realize that they need to handle redirects properly, just like all the web browsers have for years. Maybe they’ll read this post. 😉

Why did I specifically recommend a 301 redirect, not a plain ol’ 302 redirect? Because a 301 – unlike the usual 302 temporary redirect that most everyone uses – lets the search engines like Google know that the redirect is pointing to a stable destination, and therefore the link juice (e.g. Google PageRank) should flow to the destination URL. Now this isn’t a big deal now, since the major search engines aren’t doing anything much with RSS feeds yet (indexing the content, crawling the item links, etc.), but it will come

If you want to see this 301 in action, here’s a URL to my RSS feed, which redirects to Feedburner:

Here’s how I set it up in my .htaccess file:

RewriteRule ^feed/$ [R=301,L]

The URL of my feed that I told to Feedburner when setting up my account was:

Then if I ever want to move away from Feedburner to another service, I would simply adjust my RewriteRule (or RedirectPermanent, if you prefer to use that instead) directive in my .htaccess file to point to the new service.

Any thoughts on a path forward here? Or is this a non-issue to you folks?

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Darren Rowse is the founder of, a blog about the many ways of adding an income stream to blogs.

Darren owns and writes a variety of blogs including Digital Photography Blog and Camera Phone
. He is also a co-founder of the Breaking News Blog Collective.