Feeds are not new to WordPress, and neither is Feedburner. Are you tired of tweeting your posts from your blog every time you publish them? Well Feedburner, Socialize, XML-RPC update services and WordPress will solve that issue for you, in real-time!
I’m sure you’re aware of what RSS feeds are and have a clue of how they’re being used. In this post I’ll give you a quick overview of what Feedburner was and is. I’ll show you how easy it is to set up Feedburner for your WordPress blog or website and that there’s nothing really complicated behind that. I’ll then show you how to activate Feedburner’s Socialize tool to feed your posts to Twitter, and finally we’ll test the whole thing out and make sure it’s grabbing those posts as soon as they arrive — real-time.
What is Feedburner
Feedburner is an online service launched by Dick Costolo back in 2004, then acquired by Google in mid-2007. Feedburner was created to manage (or how they would call it — burn) your RSS feeds, meaning take full control of what, when and how is published to your feed, taking the load off your website and giving you the ability to control and analyze your publications.
Feedburner had a whole bunch of interesting features from the very beginning, and then with Google in control, those features became even better, especially in the “social” aspect. Up to date, Feedburner remains one of the biggest RSS content providers used by large companies, although heavy development on the product has been dropped.
Google did though introduce a new Feedburner beta with their new slick interface, but there’s not much to see there yet. Hopefully they’ll bring it together in the upcoming months and maybe create a full integration with Google Analytics. Wouldn’t it be lovely to see how your website’s doing in one place? ;)
Feedburner and WordPress
Feedburner and WordPress have been friends ever since, with a dedicated page in the codex called Using Feedburner and a set plugins that simplify the process. Probably a little bit outdated, but nonetheless. What process?
Well the process itself is simple enough once you have subscribed to Feedburner. Feedburner works out of the box after you’ve provided them with your RSS feed URL. Without any extra setup or configuration you can start burning your feed and analyzing your readers’ behavior. The process of linking WordPress with Feedburner is as simple as having the WordPress feed redirect to your Feedburner one.
There’s a catch here though, one that the plugins will probably take care of. Feedburner itself will access your feed through that every same URL, so you have to make sure that you redirect your feed visitors to Feedburner, but not Feedburner itself, otherwise it won’t be able to fetch your feeds. There are many ways to do this — some are based on the User-agent string sent by the browser, others avoid redirecting and instead override the output URL of the feed on your website, but what we suggest is go with a plugin.
The one that we recommend is FD Feedburner Plugin by John Watson. It’s easy to set up and you can have it for your comments feed as well. Just input the Feedburner URL and you’re ready to go, all the redirect will automatically be done for you.
After you have set it up, make sure your Feedburner feed is grabbing your content. Publish a few fake posts to see how that happens (assuming you’re not working on your production server of course) and make any additional changes if needed, like thumbnails, categories, images and links. If you’re using anchor links for bookmarks on the page make sure the links are absolute, not relative. If your images contain links, make sure they link to the right post, again, absolute and not relative.
Once Feedburner and WordPress can speak to each other, proceed to enabling some sweet services on your Feedburner account. Interesting ones to watch out for is the feed counter, e-mail subscriptions, AdSense for feeds and of course Socialize, it’s what we’re going to talk about next.
Adding Your Twitter Account to Feedburner
Socialize is located under the Publicize section in the old interface. I was unable to find it in the new interface, but if you do let me know ;) Feedburner can use your Twitter accounts associated with your Google profile, and if there aren’t any available, bit the Add a Twitter Account button.
After Google has authorized you via Twitter’s OAuth, you’ll be taken back to your Feedburner page with an option to pick your newly linked Twitter account to your feed. Then comes the Formatting Options section.
This section is quite self-explanatory, easy to play around with, and the bottom part of the page shows you exactly how your updates will look on Twitter. Enable hashtags from categories if you’re using categories and tags (tags are categories in RSS terms), and finally hit Activate to activate your setup.
So what will happen now?
Testing Your Twitter + Feedburner Setup
Easy, as soon as you publish a new blog post on your website, Feedburner will pick that up from your Feed and send it directly to Twitter in the format you have specified. Go ahead and try it out with a couple of other fake posts. Test out how tags are transformed into inline hashtags, and also note that Feedburner will automatically shorten the links for you with Goo.gl, no need for a plugin to do that.
Pubsubhubbub & XML-RPC Ping Services
Strange word eh? Pubsubhubbub (hubbub for short) is the key to real-time feeds and Feedburner fully supports that, so you’ll see that your published feeds will automatically pop up without any delays. Feedburner will also allow other RSS aggregators such as Feedly or Google Reader to subscribe to the Hub for real-time updates.
What you do have to make sure though, is that your WordPress installation is providing those feeds at real time to Feedburner, since that seems like the only place where a delay may occur. To ensure that, we use a thing called Update Services located under the Writing Settings in the WordPress admin panel.
http://ping.feedburner.com is in the update services list and you can add some of your own from the update services list in the WordPress Codex.
That’s about it for this tutorial, so hopefully your posts are now being automatically tweeted from your Twitter account without any extra action from your side. Just keep in mind that things can go wrong sometimes, so keep an eye on your feeds from time to time, as Feedburner can keep changing.
There are other service designed specifically for tweeting your RSS feeds, like Twitterfeed for instance, but my personal experience with that was quite aweful and besides, I was using Feedburner anyway. Let’s just hope that Google does a good job at taking Feedburner to the next level some time in the future. I’m sure there will be need for feeding RSS feeds into Google+ in the upcoming months.
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