Feedburner: Google's neglected child

November 03, 2011

Feedburner is one of my favourite webmaster tools. It collects feeds (RSS and others) which you publish on your site, and then republishes them via Google infrastructure, taking the feed update traffic off your site. It provides a quick HTML interface on the feed page to allow users to add it to many popular RSS/feed clients, which is a simple lowering-barrier-to-entry feature. It also adds some analytics metrics to your feeds, and integration with the almost-ubiquitous Google Analytics.

However, it feels like a poor cousin of other Google services: visually, it hasn’t had a full refresh yet, and the proposed ‘beta’ interface lacks almost the entirety of useful function: including the ability to post to other services, tweak the presentation of RSS items and more. Whilst the new interface comes with the ubiquitous Google ‘beta’ tag, the older, supposedly mature product has features which feel only partially implemented, giving it a neglected feel. Since feedburner has widespread use, counting amongst others Ars Technica, it seems strange it feels so neglected.

One of the things I find most frustrating about the mature version is the half-finished nature of the social publishing features. Feedburner allows you to post new items from the RSS feed to Twitter, or Facebook, and allows you to customise how they are presented, in my case:

Blog | [Title] [Link]

When you have accounts with several services, this feature saves a lot of time reposting things - as soon as the RSS updates, the post is publicised. One clear letdown is that you can’t post to Google+ via this method, Google strangely providing ease of use to its rivals without its own much-vaunted social offering.

Whilst I might gripe over the missing, or partially implemented nature of some of Feedburner’s features, I’m happy with the service all told, and use it for nearly all the sites I am responsible for. I hope that the people responsible for Feedburner realise how much potential there is here, and how only slight changes could really make the service great!