Google Showing Feedburner Redirect URLs in Search Results

Google is showing Feedburner redirect URLs in their search results.

200810021519

They’re using the link:

http://feeds.latimes.com/~r/topoftheticket/~3/408704356/palin-couric.html

which is a Feedburner redirect URL which they use in RSS feeds to help in tracking.

Google owns Feedburner so it’s a bit embarrassing that they’re making such an obvious mistake.

This might be distorting the stats for the LA Times. Feedburner may in fact be ignoring these when they see that the HTTP referrer is in fact from Google (and not empty or from a web based reader).

The biggest problem with the implementation that Feedburner is using is that it’s impossible to reconstruct the original URL from the redirect URL once it’s in the wild.

A few years ago (when they were just a newly hatched startup and I was working on Rojo) I proposed that they use a URL that encodes the target URL and only adds about 30 additional characters.

The template would be:

http://feeds.latimes.com/r/$nonce/$site/$path

A search engine like Google or Spinn3r could use the URL found in the wild, decode the correct target URL, and then update their index (and rank) to reflect the actual URL.


  1. Hey Kevin,

    I can ask the team, but I don’t think that’s a mistake. Those redirected URLs are generated at the publisher’s request (i.e., people who use Feedburner) so that Feedburner can track where the clicks are coming from and report that information back to the publisher. If Google stripped out the redirects then the user wouldn’t get the data they requested.

    So when you think about it, the URL needs to be opaque — if you can deconstruct the URL, then aggregators (such as Google Reader, Google Blog Search, Rojo, etc) would be doing a disservice to the publisher, who really wanted to know.

    See here for some more detail:

    http://www.google.com/support/feedburner/bin/answer.py?answer=78948&topic=13075

    Cheers,

    -DeWitt

  2. Another note….

    I wonder if this is hurting the LA Times pagerank?

    The Feedburner URLs use HTTP 302s not 301s….. I think Google still considers these as separate URLs and won’t elide the PR graph.

    Hope all is well DeWitt.

    Kevin






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