Google's Feedburner Subscribe Via Email Service Now Integrated With Our CMS
Instead of announcing every update I make manually by email, I decided to start blogging more a while back. But I still had to manually send links to the blog article to get people to check it out.
When RSS feeds came out years ago, it didn't really seem to catch on to me. But then Google made Feedburner, which is a service that lets you automate the subscribe by email functionality so that people can read your blog content more easily. Their service broadcasts your new blog articles to the mailing list on a daily basis and it's very easy to setup.
Upgrading to support Feedburner
Our custom blog app wasn't quite ready for Feedburner at first. There were some syntax fixes I had to do to make it valid and support all of the available features. Such as atom link, author with email address included and a GUID to avoid duplicates. I added these features now. Feedburner also doesn't accept SSL URLs for the feeds, so I had make a special exception in my code that allows their robot to crawl the feed without SSL since I use site-wide SSL on my company web sites. I also fixed a couple bugs related to saving blog article drafts so that it is easier to fine tune your article prior to releasing it.
The Blog RSS XML feed is now valid syntax across all of our web sites.
I added the RSS auto-discover meta tag to the home page of all sites so that RSS readers can discover the feed - though few people would be doing that. However, robots can find it easier as well with that there - this is something Wordpress and other apps do as well.
Easy subscribe widget
So now my company web site's sidebar has a "Follow Our Blog Via Email" feature that lets you subscribe. People will only receive the newest blog articles and not just a list of everything over and over. I also get statistics on how people use my feed/click throughs via Google's service. Because the subscription goes through google, it is more anonymous and secure - so perhaps people will be more willing to subscribe if they find the writing to be of interest. It's easy and safe to opt in and opt out at any time.
Google also makes the RSS feed better looking then XML when visited directly:
I added a field to my blog application which allows the system to replace all the links that points to the our XML feed to point to the external Feedburner link so that there is true integration of Feedburner.
Source of Inspiration
I had been following another blogger like this for a few weeks and I really enjoyed how the service works. It's not impossible to make my own, but Google's version is more then sufficient for now. I urge you to try it out and use this nice service on your blogs!
Hopefully, anyone reading my blog will now consider following us by email!
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