Google Dominating the RSS Market?

    January 19, 2007

One of the things that has been interesting to see over the course of the past year is how Google has been quietly dominating the RSS market. While this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given Google’s market clout today it’s been interesting to watch it happening.

The primary way that I’ve watched it happening is through the trackbacks that we record on Zooomr. At present Zooomr is the only photo sharing site that I’m aware of offering trackbacks, or more accurately referring url info, for your photos. Sharing referring url information with our photographers allows them the ability to better monitor how many times their photos are actually being viewed outside of Zooomr where they are blogged, showing up in RSS readers, etc. In general we think our photographers want to be able to best monitor where their work is showing up.

Of course one of the top places that Zooomr photographs are showing up in is in RSS readers. This happens two ways. First people actually subscribe to a photographer’s photo feed directly via RSS. Each photographer has an RSS subscribe option for people to monitor their photostream via their reader. Secondly many of our photographers also blog (or have other’s blog) their photos and when these images show up in RSS feeds for their blogs we count that view and report it back to them.

Sharing referring url information is a unique thing that we are doing at Zooomr, and helps people answer the seemingly perpetual question, “why is my photo getting so many views?” We plan on sharing even more analytical information with Zooomr photograhers in the future, and will be releasing an even more robust analytics package in the near future.

But back to the point of the article. The point of the article is that a year ago bloglines was pretty much dominating the referring url data on my Zooomr photos. About 6 months ago though Google Reader started showing just about the same number of referring RSS hits and now today Google Reader is showing almost *3 times* the number of referring RSS hits as Bloglines is.

Take a look at the above image taken from a recent photograph of mine that I blogged at Certainly the number one source of referrals are coming from my blog directly. But look at number two. 1,472 hits from Google Reader vs. 578 hits from bloglines. Both Google Reader and Bloglines have funky derivatives that add a few more hits to each, but as far as the main bulk of their traffic this shows a pretty clear dominance by Google Reader.

When I compare other photos that I’ve blogged in the past the overall trend has been an almost weekly increase in Google Reader referring urls vs. Bloglines or others.

Admittedly this data is completely unscientific and entirely anecdotal. There could be lots of reasons why Google’s Reader is showing so much traffic and certainly the fact that it’s really only tracking my blog also is hardly scientific at all. Still, they certainly do seem to be making inroads.

I’ve tried Google Reader a few times but just haven’t been able to get into it as an RSS reader. It feels awkward to me and I prefer the current RSS reader that I use Newsgator Online.

I’m not aware if anyone tracks RSS useage more formally than this but my own anecdotal experience seems like an interesting place to start a conversation.



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Thomas Hawk is a San Francisco based photographer and technology writer.
He publishes the web site Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection and is also
the Evangelist and CEO of the photo sharing site Zooomr.