Reclaiming What’s Yours: Getting your feed back from FeedBurner while still tracking subscribers

feed-icon.jpgAs you are probably aware, FeedBurner's way of tracking subscriptions is a little bit unreliable. You've probably seen your subscription numbers drop significantly during the weekends and during the days when you have no new posts or little activity. If you’re like me, you want to know your actual subscriber numbers.

There isn’t a straightforward solution, but I have a couple of ideas I'd like to test. One of the easiest involves using FeedBurner’s Awareness API to gain access to the raw data collected and interpreting the data myself in a more useful way. The other idea takes a little bit more time and involves parsing the RSS hits from the web server log file. I explained my idea for the log file in this comment.

The API idea has the disadvantage that depends on FeedBurner, and my hands would be tied later if I wanted to create a competing product. On the other hand, the log file idea is complicated by the fact that, once you’ve moved your feed to FeedBurner, your RSS hits no longer go to your website. You only get the RSS hits from FeedBurner. That is major obstacle. Read more

Tracing their Steps: How to track feed subscriber referrals with Google Analytics

people_walking.jpgOne of the most important measures of success for a blog is the number of RSS subscribers. There are many blog posts out there about how to increase your number of subscribers. They range from the use of bigger, more prominent and attention-grabbing RSS buttons, to offering bonuses for signing up. While you can use all sorts of tricks, at the end of the day it is really about the value you give to your visitors on an ongoing, consistent basis. Personally, I subscribe to any blog that sparks my interest, but as soon as I see the quality drop I unsubscribe just as quickly. So many blogs, so little time!

Let me introduce another way you can increase your RSS subscribers that I have not seen covered anywhere. It works by identifying your best RSS referral sources and focusing your marketing and networking efforts on those.

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Watch out, Feedburner's numbers are woefully inaccurate! … but why?

This was Rand's response to a comment I made about Rand's confirmation of Aaron's claim that an RSS subscriber is worth 1000 links.

Here is my comment:

Wed (6/27/07) at 07:38 AM

Very useful links. I really like the Adwords tip.

An RSS Subscriber is Worth a Thousand Links – well said, Aaron, and very true (though I'd say, rather, 250 or 300)

I think it all depends on the quality of the links, the content on your blog, and your audience.

I checked some A-list blogs to compare subscribers count and inbound links:


13,109 subscribers

998,000 links

76.13 links per subscriber


25,579 subscribers

543,000 links

21.23 links per subscriber


19083 subscribers

196,000 links

10.27 links per subscriber


9737 subscribers

127,000 links

13.04 links per subscriber

John Chow

5,818 subscribers

127,000 links

21.83 links per subscriber

The gap doesn't seem to be so big.

What got me intrigued was the fact that bloggers are losing credibility on Feedburner's ability to accurately count RSS subscribers. I noticed, especially on Seomoz that RSS subscriber numbers jump up and down drastically, usually during weekends.

We all like to see our reader stats, count and traffic as a measure of whether we are doing things right or wrong. When dropped the RSS stats tab, they motivated me to host my blog on this server. I am glad they did as I have a lot more flexibility now. I will write a post with more details on the move soon.

I decided to dig deep for clues as to how Feedburners assess the subscriber count. I had the feeling they were measuring the hits to the RSS pages. But, how they account for the hits coming from aggregator services like Bloglines, Google Reader, etc was the question.

How Feedburner estimates the number of RSS readers?
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