Google Reader’s Demise or How to Survive in a Post-RSS World
Google Reader is no more (starting in July 2013). And I’m not concerned. I used to be a daily user of the service, but like most everybody else on the planet, I’ve turned to my social networks for updates. Why? Because RSS was always the techie’s solution and not a consumer solution.
Back in October when there was an eruption of concern over Feedburner’s pending demise (still not official), the solution seemed simple for anyone using Feedburner: Stop using it. No need for transition plans. No need for freakouts. Simply stop using Feedburner and turn your RSS back to the native feed. (After all, the search benefits to Feedburner ended when Google introduced algorithm updates Freshness in 2011 and Caffeine in 2010.)
In fact, everything in the data for a number of accounts I was working on indicated two things:
- Social networks mattered more than RSS subscribers
- Blog email subscribers mattered most of all
RSS has been dying a slow death for years and by 2012 there was no point in caring anymore. Like the CD player that’s still in my 2008 Honda Civic, the technology may still exist, but it’s time to start ignoring it altogether.
What Can You Do in a Post-RSS World?
RSS may still be used to power back-end solutions, but for lazy bloggers and companies who hoped to let the feed do the work, it’s time to start taking alternative methods of content distribution seriously.
1. Focus on Gaining Email Subscribers
It seems old school to promote email as an alternative to the younger RSS technology. But even Google Reader loyalists will probably admit the check their email more often than their RSS feed reader. And the best part is, it’s simple to promote.
Take a look at AboutLeaders.com, for example. (Full disclosure, I worked on their website design project.) The good folks over there simply offer a leadership resource as incentive to sign-up for the blog. This tried-and-true method of gaining subscribers gets people in the door with your great content and then keeps them consuming your awesome blog updates.
2. Get on Google Plus… now
Google Plus was always going to be the replacement for Google Reader, whether people liked it or not. Unlike Google Reader, there’s profit to be made on Google Plus, so it’s the place brands, businesses and bloggers need to be right now.
For companies, remember to verify your publisher status. Simply add update the link on that Google Plus icon that appears with the other social network icons on your website:
And if you’re a blogger or have a number of bloggers, make sure there’s a link from their content to their GooglePlus page on every post they write that looks like this:
Once these pieces are in place you can verify authorship and publisher status using Google’s Structured Data Testing tool.
3. Be Social. Like Really Social.
Unlike RSS, even Grandma is using a social network. For bloggers and companies, your audience is already online and looking for content. But are they finding yours?
It’s not enough to just be on Facebook or Twitter. And it’s not enough to feed your content out to those networks. Individuals representatives of your company (or if you’re a blogger, then just you), should build relationships with other people in your bailiwick. Those relationships will give your content even more momentum, more so than just casual followers and friends.
If you want to read more about some techniques for being social, check out this social media eBook from Kuno.
Calling this a post-RSS world is kind of dishonest. We never lived in an RSS world. But the world we’re living in now—a social content world—is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Utilizing the mature technology and maturing technologies makes more sense than worrying about a technology that hasn’t ever grown up.