FeedBurner has a feature called ‘clickthrough tracking’. If a feed has this feature enabled, FeedBurner will track the number of clickthrough from your feed. You will be able to see how many users have come to your site after reading the feed. But there is a problem – they do the tracking by modifying the link URL – this could hurt your Google PageRank in the long run.
The problem happens as FeedBurner changes the URL in the feed to point to their site. It is not a FeedBurner issue – that is the only possible way to track clicks in a feed. This becomes an issue because google will not credit these links to you.
For example, this is the URL of my last post…
In the FeedBurner RSS feed, this link becomes
Both points to the same location – but in case of the FeedBurner link, the user goes to the FeedBurner server and is redirected from there to my site. This link is counted as a link to feedburner by google.
How this Affect Google Page Rank
This system is designed for humans – not for machines. But these feeds are are harvested by bots and used on other sites. I have seen my content being swiped and used in other sites. Earlier I used to get angry about it – now that phase is over. I have accepted the situation. Like people accept spam and ads, after a while you learn to accept the fact that others are using your content without your permission.
There is one good thing about this – most people link back to the the original page when using the content. And as all bloggers know, links are very important. Recently I found this page…
Like many others, this site links to the original article – but to my horror, it uses the FeedBurner link…
Google will not count this link as a link to my site. The only advantage of others using my content is lost.
Another problem is that people copy the URL right from the feed reader into their blog – and if they are using a WYSIWYG editor when creating the post, they will not notice that they used the wrong URL.
Turn ‘Clickthrough Tracking’ Off
The benefits of ‘clickthrough tracking’ are not worth the problems caused by it. Fortunately, it is easy to turn it off. If you are not using FeedBurner to publish your feed, you don’t have this problem. Even if you are using FeedBurner, chances are that you don’t have the problem – you have to explicitly turn this option on. If you have turned it on here’s how to turn it off…
Login to the FeedBurner site and elect your feed. At the bottom left side of the Feed page, there will be a link called ‘Standard Stats’.
See the checkbox ‘Item link clicks (clickthrough tracking)’ – make sure its off.
Click ‘Save’. Do this for all your feeds.