Do Your RSS Feeds Link to Your Site or do they Link Somewhere Else?

It doesn’t hurt to get credit where credit is due. You could be losing some valid backlinks, if you use a service such as Feedburner to manage your RSS feeds. But that’s easy to fix.

Really, REALLY BIG RSS feed button
Really, REALLY BIG RSS feed button
Image by HiMY SYeD / photopia via Flickr

As I mentioned in my last post, search engines tend to give a site more credit when that site has more links pointing to it from other sites.  Elementary, I know.

While I don’t advocate that anyone try to get backlinks for the sake of backlinks only, it doesn’t seem to hurt to get credit where credit is due.

What I mean is that, if another site chooses to link to you, that should count for something, correct?  That should still be an actual “backlink” in the eyes of a search engine.

What you might not realize (and what I didn’t realize until recently) is that you could be losing some valid backlinks if you use a service such as Feedburner to manage your RSS feeds.  But that’s easy to fix.

Another site can link to you through your RSS feed. For example, perhaps another blog finds your posts valuable to its readers and decides to display your recent posts in its sidebar.  In order to do this, it uses your RSS feed.  In theory, this should give you backlinks and deep links (links to your internal pages).  Which shows the search engines that your content is valuable enough for that blogger to recommend you to its readers.

However, if you have Feedburner set to track your stats, the backlinks from your Feed do not lead directly to your site.  Instead, they go via Feedburner.  In essence, Feedburner is getting the backlinks, you aren’t.

Needless to say, Google owns Feedburner and it would not be surprising if the staff of Google have thought of this as well.  The algorithms might or might not have a way to still give you credit for this.  I don’t know.

But as far as I am concerned, I would rather not risk losing perfectly valid backlinks (I don’t even use the Feedburner stat tracking to be honest).

How to Handle It

Simple take the following steps to fix this.

  1. Log into your Feedburner Account
  2. Click on the Feed you wish to fix
  3. Click on “Configure Stats.”
  4. Where it says “For my feed, track:” uncheck every option that is checked.
  5. Save changes.

That’s it.  Your RSS feeds should now link directly to your site and its pages, not to Feedburner.

This is also relevant to plugins such as CommentLuv, which use RSS feeds to link your comments back to your latest blog post.

Speaking of Giving Credit Where Credit is Due …

This post was inspired by Don’t Let Feedburner Steal Your Backlinks at Ducedo. On that post, Stephan Nilsson specifically addresses the issue as it relates to CommentLuv, however after reading his post I realized that numerous other ramifications could be involved.

There are several way in which RSS feeds result in backlinks to your site.  I’ve given a couple examples above.

What other uses have you found for RSS feeds?  Would these uses be influenced by the circumstances I describe in this post?  Please feel free to leave a comment with any other feedback you have on this.  I always love to hear your thoughts.

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11 Responses to “Do Your RSS Feeds Link to Your Site or do they Link Somewhere Else?”

  1. Anthony Clark
    July 27, 2009 at 8:23 am #

    hey thanks anna, that was really useful info, but i want to ask you that do search engines only give importance to those links that has arrived from RSS comments, or it does gives same importance to external links (advertising) too ?

  2. Anna
    July 27, 2009 at 1:52 pm #

    @Anthony – good question. No one but an authorized Search Engine employee can really tell you for sure what a search engine does and doesn’t do, and even they are not permitted to tell you everything.

    As a general rule of thumb, one can expected that one will be credited for links that do not contain the “nofollow” attribute. Paid advertising links are nofollow as long as the advertiser is following Google’s Webmaster guidelines (which they should, if they don’t want to be penalized or de-indexed).

    However there are some exceptions – for example, if the site that is linking to you is irrelevant or is in a bad neighborhood, the link will probably not help you much. Additionally, there are many factors which would effect the importance given to a backlink – such as the Page Rank of the site linking to you, the number of outgoing links on that page, etc.

    Two rules I try to follow:

    1. Have valuable content so that you are always linking to something that people (and search engines) would want to find.

    2. Never get backlinks only “for the sake of backlinks.” Even if there were no search engines, would you leave that comment and link to your site, so that people who were interested in what you had to say would follow your link? Then, leave the link!

    On your own sites, don’t link another site (particularly without the nofollow) unless you are recommending or vouching for that site. Check that the site has good content before linking to it. Obviously with contextually-based ads such as Adsense, one can’t control every link. But these are nofollow links anyway, and the ads are listed as “sponsored” so that you are not “vouching” for those sites.

  3. Tracy
    July 27, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    I wondered about this before. Feedburner is useful but it did appear that the links were not coming back to me.

  4. Jannie Funster
    July 30, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

    More gold here, I do believe? I have wondered about my feed not exactly being my actual site. Let me see if I can make what you write about here work for me too. I might be back if I get stumped, okay? 🙂

    And will Google not be happy until it rules ALL THE WORLD??
    .-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..Lazy River Sunday (Formerly Titled “Frisky Jim at the Water Park”) =-.

  5. Anna
    July 30, 2009 at 4:25 pm #

    Thanks for your comments Jannie! And welcome to my blog. I hope I will be seeing more of you 🙂

    Yes, please do let me know if you have trouble implementing this! It is not very difficult 🙂 but sometimes it helps to have a bit of direction anyway.

  6. Anna
    July 30, 2009 at 5:43 pm #

    @Joe – yeah, that’s right, better not stop reading my blog!

    Just kidding … glad I could help!

  7. Personality Marketing
    July 30, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

    Oh snap! I wondered how to fix that! I’m going over asap to handle it, thanks again Anna! You keep saving me!
    .-= Personality Marketing´s last blog ..Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller piss me off! =-.

  8. Stefan
    August 5, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

    Just noticed that I never thanked you for mentioning and linking to me. Big thanks. 🙂
    .-= Stefan´s last blog ..Monthly Roundup – July 2009 =-.

  9. Anna
    August 6, 2009 at 2:21 am #

    @Stephan – You are welcome, was deserved!

  10. Mike Collins
    September 22, 2009 at 9:53 am #

    Hey Anna, thanks for the tip! This never occured to me and I honestly don’t use feedburners stats anyway. I just did as you suggested and we’ll see if I notice an increase in links.

    .-= Mike Collins´s last blog ..How to Manage Your Aweber Lists For Maximum Efficiency =-.

  11. Anna
    September 28, 2009 at 4:34 pm #

    @ Mike – You’re welcome. When I first noticed this I realized I wasn’t using Feedburner stats either – so there was really no point in keeping those redirects 🙂

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