What Google Reader’s Shut Down Means For Bloggers & Publishers

Filed in Blogging, MY BEST POSTS by Matt McGee on March 18, 2013 3 Comments

There’s been a lot of crying and screaming in the past few days since Google said it would close Google Reader on July 1st.

Personally, it’s a hassle for those of us that rely on RSS for collecting information from our favorite blogs and websites.

But what does it mean professionally? Let’s put our blogger/publisher caps on and talk about what this news means for us, and how we should respond. Because if we don’t, the end of Google Reader could have an impact on our ability to get information out to a very important group of people.

Impact Of Google Reader’s Demise On Bloggers

Let’s get these two things out of the way:

  1. RSS is not dead.
  2. Blogging/Publishing is not dead.

Neither RSS nor blogging is dead. Every WordPress install (and other blog platforms, too, I assume) includes an RSS feed by default, and that’s not going to change. But a primary way that some of your readers access your content is dying. And this is a very important group of your readers — information mavens, people that have gone out of their way to say “I want to know what you publish” and, in many cases, people that are very likely to want to share what you publish with others.

These folks matter.

So the demise of Google Reader isn’t an excuse to stop publishing content; it’s a call to action to not only keep publishing and blogging, but also to make it as easy as possible for that important group of people to continue receiving your content.

What Publishers Should Do About Google Reader’s Demise

There are three things that I think online publishers should do right away to minimize any negative impact from Google Reader’s shut down on July 1:

1.) Educate readers about their options.

RSS isn’t mainstream, so this is an opportunity to let existing subscribers know about other RSS reader options, and to educate non-RSS users about the benefits of following your feed. I wrote a list of 12 Google Reader alternatives on Marketing Land, and there are several more suggestions in the comments of that article.

2.) Start offering email subscriptions. Now.

This isn’t an option. Email is the anti-RSS. Consumer adoption of RSS has never been high, but almost all Internet users do email.

If you’re not already offering readers the chance to get your posts via email, start now. And whether you’re doing that already or not, let your readers know how it works and invite them to start subscribing.

The folks at Naked Security just did a really nice job of inviting readers to sign up for their email list. Follow their lead.


3.) Offer your content through appropriate social channels.

You’re probably already doing this to some degree, but can you do it better?

Here’s what I mean: I’m on Twitter, and I’m betting that a fair amount of my blog readers already follow me there. But on Twitter, I tweet about a lot more than SEO and online marketing. If you’re not interested in tweets about sports, U2 and music in general, and all kinds of other things, you’ve probably stopped following me.

My solution? I’m giving serious thought to starting a Twitter account specifically for this blog so that people who only want to learn about my latest articles can follow that and avoid following my personal account.

Can you do the same thing for your blog? It might help you keep (or even gain) readers in the wake of Google Reader’s demise.

I’m also thinking about setting up a Facebook Page specifically for this blog and for online marketing content. My current Facebook use is purely personal. I don’t use it at all to promote my articles on this blog, on Marketing Land/Search Engine Land or anywhere else, for that matter.

With Facebook rolling out a new News Feed that lets users easily flip through different feeds, this opens the door for some Facebookers to use the service as more of an RSS feed than ever before.

Final Thoughts

Don’t buy into the “sky is falling” crap about blogging and RSS being dead because Google Reader is going away. It’s not true. And I actually think this is a golden opportunity to educate readers about the benefits of joining your email list, or following your content-specific accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or whatever social media channels make sense.

RSS has never reached the mainstream, but the people using it are important. They’re info mavens that want to know when you’ve published something new. As a blogger/publisher, you’d be wise to go out of your way to make sure they can continue to get updates from you one way or another.

(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)

Comments (3)

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  1. Chris says:

    RSS is not dead because Google is not doing it anymore. This made my day. People rely on big moguls for a little too much. Feeds and publishing doesn’t stop because Google says so. It just means they are trying a different approach than the rest of the internet which always works out well (sarcasm). Get your information somehow, it’s just not with Google anymore. And be sure to share what you find with others so everyone can enjoy it. That is the whole point of RSS, sharing.

  2. John Breerwood says:

    I agree that business-specific social media profiles is an efficient way to get around this new development. With Facebook rolling out the hashtags soon, it could even improve access to following specific content and blogging topics.

  3. I’m more concerned that Google shut down reader because the majority of consumers can’t handle it. I’ve been pushing the orange RSS feed icon forever. My other thought: things move quickly in the digital marketing and computer space and we internet marketers things we’re going underwater any day, but you should see my small biz clients. They’re still flabbergasted by the idea of FAcebook Groups or Facebook even!

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