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Redirecting Your iTunes/RSS feed

We have recently moved ‘The Two Techies’ RSS feed to a new server, it’s can be a fairly daunting task when you realise what is at stake if it goes wrong. We moved it a couple of weeks ago now and so far so good, although we did have a little prior experience after we moved ‘The Social Show’ across to ‘Social Media Weekly’.

For anyone who has submitted their podcast to iTunes, you’ll know it’s one of the few services that doesn’t have some kind of control panel or dashboard for content creators (at least on the podcasting side of things) – you submit your feed once and hope you never have to mess with the link again. But what do you do if you need to change the URL over to a new server/URL?

This small guide will assume that you still have access to the place where the current RSS feed is stored/created as it relies on being able to modify this feed. If you don’t have access anymore, you will need to contact someone in iTunes support and they should be able to help you out.

We use an application called ‘Feeder’ for the Mac over at MunchTech to upload and manage our RSS feeds for iTunes, it makes creating and updating them super simple and allows you to easily manage more than one in a single place. Feeder has a handy little option built in that allows you to set the new feed URL and it does the rest of the magic for you. Before we do that we need to make sure we have the new feed setup and uploaded, otherwise we will be redirecting to nothing! I highly recommend that you try and keep the new feed as close as possible in terms on titles, descriptions etc as the old feed to keep the transition simple – as with many things on the web if something goes wrong you want to be able to narrow it down and the less you change, the more obvious the problem can often become.

Once you have the new feed setup we need to get to redirecting the old one. As I said above the Mac App Feeder has this feature built in for iTunes, but we also need to take into account any other podcatching applications that might be monitoring your feed. To do this we need to apply a 301 redirect your old feed. What this will do is it will redirect any users (or applications) that head to your old feed to your new feed – so for example if someone (or something) requets http://myoldurl.com/podcast.rss we will need to automatically redirect them to http://mynewurl.com/podast.rss.

Adding the iTunes new feed URL tag manually

In your old (current) and new RSS feeds add the following:

<itunes:new-feed-url>http://mynewurl.com/podcast.rss</itunes:new-feed-url>

Between the two tags make sure to add the link to your NEW rss feed.

Creating a 301 redirect

This is the slightly more complex part (but not too much) and will require you have access to create and edit files on your web server.

First off you will need to create a .htaccess file – It is important to note that you may already have one on the server. With CPanel hosting accounts make sure to enable hidden files before attempting to create a new one.

"Show Hidden Files (dotfiles)"

“Show Hidden Files (dotfiles)”

Once you have either found or created your .htaccess file we need to redirect the feed. To do this edit the .htaccess file with the following:

Redirect 301 /podcast.rss http://mynewurl.com/podcast.rss

Now this is assuming the .htaccess file is in the same directory as your podcast.rss file, hence the reason it just reads /podcast.rss.

Once you have added this, hit save. You should be able to test your redirect almost instantly by going to the URL of the old feed.

Conclusion

After you have done both of these it can take a little while for the change to take affect, we found that iTunes took a matter of minutes to change over. There is no easy way to test which feed iTunes is using but we added “This is using the old feed” to the description of the latest episode on the old RSS, we added “This is using the new feed” to the description of the latest episode of the new feed.

 

Footnotes

Hello from down here! The iTunes support page has some more information on many different parts of your RSS feed and does a good job of breaking down what each bit means.