What The Industry Thinks About Google Reader’s Demise

    March 24, 2013
    Chris Crum

Google recently dropped the bombshell that it is closing down Google Reader, much to the chagrin of its loyal user base. I’ve done my share of ranting about it, and discussed why some businesses may want to be more strongly thinking about their email strategies. We’ve since reached out to a handful of prominent bloggers and industry professionals for some additional perspectives on what the closing of Google Reader means for blogs and publishers.

What impact will Google Reader’s demise have on blogs and news sites? Let us know what you think in the comments.

“I think it’s net positive that Google is shutting down its reader,” Automattic/WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg tells WebProNews. “It encourages people [to try] the great new experiences that have been developed over the past few years, including the WordPress.com reader.”

According to Mullenweg, the open source WordPress software is used by 16% of the web.

And trying new experiences we are. Feedly, for one, is getting a great deal of attention since Google’s announcement. Two days later, Feedly announced it had already seen 500,000 new users coming from Google Reader. At times they’ve had trouble keeping up with the demand.

“I think that Google Reader is a standalone technology and not indicative of whether the world will shift away from RSS,” says Human Business Works CEO and all around popular social media guy Chris Brogan. “The notion that social networks and human sharing has replaced RSS is like saying that fireplaces have replaced central heating. Quaint, but not effective.”

Not everyone quite agrees with that sentiment, however.

Jeremy Schoemaker, author of the popular ShoeMoney blog, says he has about 70,000 RSS readers but that the amount of traffic from them has dropped significantly.

“For me Social Media has become the new RSS,” he says. “I use a free service called Twitter Feed, that automatically posts my new posts to Twitter and my Facebook personal and fan page. I see far more traffic from that then any news reader. I haven’t thought of it until now but I haven’t logged into my Google Reader account for years. I don’t ever think RSS will die, but it will used more as an API like tool to interact with websites than a reader.”

Long-time blogger and EVP/Global Strategy and Insights for Edelman, Steve Rubel, tells us, “The majority of large sites won’t see an impact. Most of their traffic now comes from Twitter and Facebook. In addition Google (search) is a large source of traffic. The smaller sites, however, will be impacted. Their more dedicated readers are using Google Reader. These sites will need to gravitate to other forms of distribution such email newsletters and other vehicles.”

“It’s hard to say,” says Search Engine Land and Daggle blogger Danny Sullivan about the impact of Reader’s demise. “Technically, all those readers can easily continue to be readers by taking their feeds elsewhere. In practice, some might not make the effort. I expect that some blogs that see traffic from RSS are about to take a hit, though it might not be anywhere near as bad as they fear. We have, of course, been through this before after the decline of Bloglines.”

TopRank Online Marketing CEO Lee Odden tells us, “It’s a disappointment and a little puzzling that Google would shut down reader. What’s next, FeedBurner? Probably. Google is a data-driven company, so clearly they have their reasons. The cost must now outweigh the goodwill created by offering a free and useful service like reader. Still, I have to wonder if there isn’t useful usage data with reader that Google could use?”

“For content marketers, the main consideration is the impact on reach of content,” he adds. “If a substantial portion of a blog’s readers are using Google Reader, it’s a big deal. The blog would do well to point those readers to another service like Feedly.”

Zee Kane, CEO of The Next Web, says, “I think older blogs, perhaps primarily ‘tech blogs’, might experience a degree of negative impact as many (ourselves included) have hundreds of thousands of RSS subscribers. Many of our readers our early adopters and geeks who consume (technology) news as though their life depended on it, Google Reader is/was an undoubtedly brilliant way of doing so. With Google Reader disappearing, we’ll see an even heavier focus on social as a means to distribute stories, as a way to rank stories and as a means to increase readership.”

This is, of course, a small sampling of industry opinion, but it’s interesting to hear people’s different takes on the effects. Really, we won’t know what impact it truly has until Google Reader is finally gone. In the meantime, other services will pop up, and existing alternatives will strive to improve and outdo their peers.

There for a while it was starting to look like Google was really pushing for an end to the RSS format, as even its RSS Subscriptions Chrome extension disappeared from the Chrome Web Store. Thankfully, that was said to be a mistake, and it came back. Meanwhile, Google is phasing out links to Google Reader from its other properties. We’re still waiting to find out if Google will keep the RSS option alive in Google Alerts, which seems to be experiencing its own negligence from the company. Interestingly, Google is giving advice on how to build news readers for Android.

RSS.com is currently on sale with a $200 million asking price.

Will you miss Google Reader? Let us know in the comments.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.