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How to Track Traffic from RSS Feeds Using Google Analytics

Kris
Kris

Table of Contents

If you're running a website and blog is an important part of your marketing priorities, you'll certainly want to enable tracking your RSS Feeds traffic using Google Analytics or a tool of your choice.

What is RSS

There are many ways to keep up with the latest news and information, but one of the most popular methods is RSS feeds (or Really Simple Syndication). Subscribing to RSS feeds can allow a user to keep track of many different websites in a single news aggregator, which constantly monitors sites for new content, removing the need for the user to check them manually.

Websites often use RSS feeds to publish new information, like blog posts, news stories, or podcast episodes. An RSS document (called a "feed" or "web feed") includes all or part of the text, as well as metadata like the publishing date and author's name. RSS formats are specified using a generic XML file.

Pros and Cons of tracking RSS

There are pros and cons to tracking RSS. The pros of tracking RSS in Google Analytics are that you can see if your feed brings traffic to your site by how much. And that might be meaningful data for your business to differentiate from other sources like advertising or Google organic search.

The downside to tracking RSS is it'll be difficult to differentiate the source that registered the RSS. If you register the same RSS to different places and say someone clicks that RSS link, you won't differentiate where it clicked from. To do that, you'll need your platform that generates the RSS feed in multiple ways.

For example, let's say you use the same RSS feed to register your site's feed on Google Publisher Center and a feed reader app. When you click that link from the same RSS, Google Analytics will recognize the source (utm_source) and medium (utm_medium), which are likely the same on both Publisher Center and the feed reader app.

Plan your tracking strategy carefully before you execute any changes that will impact something long-term.

Why you would want to track RSS

If you're trying to distribute your content and RSS is one of the key channels to achieve your content distribution strategy, then I can see why you'd want to track it.

Typically if the link is clicked from a website via a browser, Google Analytics will recognize the source. However, for apps and sources where Google Analytics won't recognize the source of the click, then it might be valuable to see how your syndicated source contributes to your business.

What you need to do to track RSS in Google Analytics

For bloggers and website owners who are using Google Analytics and wish to track your site traffic from RSS or XML feeds, try the following steps:

  1. Identify your template within your blog CMS tool where the RSS or XML feeds are generated.
  2. Use Google Analytics UTM parameters and append some query parameters and values to attach at the end of your URL defined in the XML file. For example https://zoommetrix.com/rss.xml?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=rss-syndication
  3. Publish or refresh your XML file after setting the query parameters into your URL within your XML file.
  4. If you get an error, you may want to change "&" to "&" so that the browser can render the entity properly.
  5. Access your Google Analytics report, go to Acquisition > Campaigns, or create a custom report using source/medium dimensions. You should see the traffic data attributed to people who visited your site via RSS or XML feeds.

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Kris

As a data journalist, I enjoy curating and analyzing marketing trends, and data. The things that fascinate me the most are the transforming business landscape due to evolving marketing technologies.