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Google scoops up FeedBurner

If you’ve been following the news, you’ve probably already heard about Google’s purchase of FeedBurner. FeedBurner offers many services to RSS publishers, including advertising within feeds, which many have speculated as the impetus for the Google’s interest. Clearly that’s a factor, but I wonder of there is another motivator, also.


As interesting as FeedBurner’s advertising service might be to Google, their stats might be their most important asset. FeedBurner is the leading feed aggregator, so publishers can redirect their subscribers through FeedBurner to estimate the number of subscribers to their feed. Why would Google care about knowing how many subscribers each feed has?

  • To upgrade Google Analytics. A key conversion for many Web site owners is a subscription to an RSS feed. Now, Google Analytics could tap FeedBurner to recognize that conversion event.
  • To upgrade its relevance ranking. With Google now integrating blogs and other new media into its new universal search results, Google could use FeedBurner subscription numbers as part of its relevance ranking—blogs with more subscribers might tend to rank higher, just as Web sites with more links do.
  • To combat spam. Splogs (spam blogs) pose a thorny problem for search engines. Sometimes they can be identified because of poor content, but suppose Google knows a blog’s subscriber count? You’d expect splogs to have almost no subscribers—one more data point for Google to chew on to ban splogs or downgrade splog rankings.

Time will tell exactly what Google is looking for in its acquisition, but it’s clear that several reasons exist—as a FeedBurner publisher, I am very interested in seeing how Google integrates FeedBurner’s capabilities.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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