Migrating your blog from one platform to another is sometimes a necessary evil, if the change will bring better SEO opportunities or improve flexibility in the long term.
Mapping URLs from your old blog posts to your new blog posts is fairly straightforward, and can be easily achieved with Apache or other server-level redirects. This only solves half the problem though: apart from bookmarks, external links and search referrals, your readers – probably your most loyal and engaged – are subscribed to your RSS feed. Re-mapping the RSS feed URL is not as easy, as many RSS readers are not as sophisticated as web browsers, and won’t understand the same 301 redirect.
The answer is to always use a proxy URL for your RSS feed, which can be easily pointed and re-pointed to the actual, native RSS feed. Your readers will subscribe to the proxy URL, which invisibly sucks content from the real, platform-specified URL. If the platform changes, the proxy URL doesn’t.
Google FeedBurner is a free and easy RSS proxy tool. Although primarily marketed on the readership statistics it provides, the long-term strategic benefit of it’s proxy URL is equally important.
“But!”, you are probably saying about now, “Haven’t you just moved the dependency from the platform, to the proxy provider? If I give everyone my FeedBurner proxy URL and want to move away from FeedBurner, won’t I be in the same situation?”. Yes, good point, which is why the service offers the free MyBrand option, so that you can use your own domain – rather than the default FeedBurner domain – for your proxy URL. Although a little technical to set up – you need to add a DNS setting for your domain – it does empower you with the advantages of a proxy URL, while still maintaining ownership of the new URL.
This technique of using a fake interface to something is a common pattern in web development, where it is known as the Facade pattern. As we see increasingly important, external channels for distributing our content – YouTube, Twitter, Flickr – so this pattern, which reduces the dependency on any particular underlying platform – may become more popular. Before we know it, we may be able to specify our own URLs for our social media identities, empowering us with greater long-term strategic flexibility to shift between them.
Setting up FeedBurner is quick and easy, but if you have any difficulties or don’t understand the technical lingo, get in touch and we’ll help you out.