Simple Podcast URLs with Statistics

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Podcast feed addresses are just too long and too complicated. No one can remember really long URLs with lots of slashes and what not.

Listeners need simpler podcast URLs so they can remember them and pass them along.

I wanted a short simple podcast URL and I also wanted statistics like you get at feedburner, but I did not want to use a feedburner URL. So I figured out how to make it work so that I get to use a simple URL for the podcast. A simple URL like www.digitalpodcast.com/podcastfeed seems pretty easy to remember.

Here’s how I did it. First I started with my blog software. I use WordPress and there is a great little plugin called PodPress which generates a podcast RSS feed found at http://www.digitalpodcast.com/podcastnews/feed. I took that feed URL and went to Feedburner.com. I set up a Feedburner account and plugged in my long URL and got a feed URL of http://feeds.feedburner.com/DigitalPodcast.

Now, I needed some way of having my simple URL go to the feedburner URL seamlessly. My Apache webserver came to the rescue. Many hosting sites use Apache, so you most likely can use this too.

I set up a little file called .htaccess (note that there is a period at the beginning and that there is now file extension at the end). I set this up in a text editor like notepad and then put the following lines of code into the file:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^podcastfeed http://feeds.feedburner.com/DigitalPodcast

The first line tells the webserver to turn on a feature to rewrite URLs. The second tells the webserver to send digitalpodcast.com/podcastfeed to feeds.feedburner.com/DigitalPodcast.

I then sent the .htaccess file up to the main directory for my website.

I like this set up because it means I can give out my URL and still get the benefit of Feedburners statistic services.

But I had to do one more thing to make sure that people didn’t click on my simple Podcast URL, open up a feedburner page and then end up using the feedburner URL in their podcatcher. I want my URL in that podcatcher. So I used a little bit of Javascript and CSS to set up my RSS button to open up a dialog box that told the person clicking on the button to use my simple URL in their podcatcher. Here’s what the pop up box looks like

And here’s the code I used on the webpage to make that box show instead of the feedburner page

This seems to work in iTunes – I was able to give them my simple URL and that’s what shows up in the iTunes music store. I got it to work with Google Home page and MSN’s MyMsn ( although I had to add a parameter ?format=xml to get MSN to read the feed), but not myYahoo.

So it’s not perfect, but I love having both a simple URL of my own and getting Feedburner stats – seems like the best of both worlds.
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