If you are a new blogger, Avoid Feedburner. Do not install Feedburner WordPress plugins for your blog, and do not use it. If you don’t know what you are doing, Feedburner can be very bad for your SEO.
I switched a blog to track my feed with Feedburner and my organic search traffic went down 50% over the next two weeks. 50%! My own fault really, I should have known better. Feedburner was one of those things that just sounds too good to be true and it is. I know it was them because they stole my SEO ranking. And I know why too.
Everyone knows that search engine rank (or SER) fluctuates, but I saw an almost immediate drop off in search engine traffic on one of my blogs after installing the Feedburner plugin and mapping my site feed to it. For those of you that may ask, No, I did not do anything else that would have dropped my ranking. I kept creating interesting topical content every day or other day just like before. I didn’t add any links to external sites. I didn’t change my site map. I did one thing on that blog and that was install the Feedburner for WordPress plugin, activate it, and map my feed to it.
I changed some settings on my Feedburner account to point some of the links back to my site, and my SER for some terms came back a little bit, from like #54 to #24, where it used to be #3. I waited a week or two to see if it was just Google catching up, but no more change. I then completely disabled Feedburner and went back to my old self hosted RSS feed and a few days after that, almost all my traffic came back and I was back up to #4 on Google’s first page.
How did Feedburner steal my search engine ranking? I’ll show you.
First, take a look at the Page Rank for Feedburner:
It has a Page Rank of 8, which is pretty high. There aren’t a many PR 8 sites out there, ESPECIALLY ones with no actual content whatsoever produced by them. By comparison, Gmail is PR 8. Amazon.com is PR 8. Do a search for “feeds.feedburner.com” and you get 9,800,000 results.
Do a search on link:amazon.com on Google, and you get 5,500 backlinks. Do the same for link:gmail.com, 63,800. Do a link:facebook.com: 150,000. Do a link:google.com: 1,500,000. Now do a link:feedburner. Know what you get?
634,000?!? That’s slightly less than half of Google’s inlinks, and 4 times Facebook.com’s inlinks. Is Feedburner 4 times more popular than Facebook? No, not by a longshot. Is Feedburner half as popular as Google? No again, not even close. Where did Feedburner get 634,000 links? I’ll tell you:
Feedburner took those links and their corresponding Page Rank Juice from you!
When you go with Feedburner on a WordPress blog (and most likely others), it does two things:
- Turns all your RSS Subscribe links from http://YourSite.com/feed to http://feeds.feedburner.com/YourSite. Since most people have those links on every page of their blog, the loss of page rank adds up.
- Turns all the links to YOUR articles from http://YourSite.com/MyAwesomeArticle into http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/YourSite/8/121344523
I realized this after I entered a summary from one of my articles into Google and it came back with an RSS feed site and the link http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/YourSite/8/121344523 for my article. Instead of my site getting credit for that backlink, Feedburner gets it.
When you have a popular blog with tons of backlinks and tons of readers, using Feedburner makes sense. They take a small percentage of your inlinks and page rank and you offload 100% of the traffic and processing power for your feed to them and get all their cool features and statistics.
When you have a small blog with limited backlinks and and limited readership, you need all the page rank and inlinks you can get. RSS is a powerful tool for getting your content out to readers, but it’s also a powerful tool for promoting your blog and getting backlinks. Don’t give them away.
Later this week, I’ll have an article for how to still use Feedburner and keep all your links. It requires a bunch of changes from your hosting company and your Feedburner preferences. Stay Tuned.