If you follow my writing, you probably know how much I love Google Reader. As you can imagine, this stopped me in my tracks.
That’s right. On July 1st, Google Reader says goodbye. The Learn More takes you to a page that tells you what you can export using their Google Takeout tool, but nothing in the way of alternatives.
Now there is three and a half months to find a suitable alternative.
A Little About How I Use(d) Google Reader
I follow a lot of blogs and various RSS feeds. 242 subscriptions to be exact.
Each time I subscribe to a blog, I organize them by topic (Blogging, Freelance, Social Media, SEO, etc.). Then I rename each subscription with the blog’s main Twitter handle. This way, when I want to tweet a post I like, I don’t have to search for their @username. Plus, when I’m ready to periodically purge my RSS feeds, I can look at the Twitter handles and figure out quickly whether I have engaged with them or not.
I also use(d) the search in Google Reader for curating content. It made it easy to find posts on a specific topic so I could create lists like 79 Link Building Resources for 2012.
How to Export Your Google Reader RSS Feeds & Subscriptions
The first thing you will want to do is export your RSS subscriptions in Google Reader. To do this, you can go to Google Takeout and click the Create Archive button.
You will then get to download a zip file of your Google Reader subscriptions.
In this zip file, you will find your subscriptions.xml which you can use to import your RSS feeds from Google Reader to other services.
My Favorite Google Reader Alternatives
Now that you know handle RSS feeds, here are the alternatives I am considering. I migrate from laptop to desktop to mobile, so I am only choosing web-based RSS readers that also play well on my iPhone. There are others if you want to install them to your computer like Feeddemon for Windows and Reeder for Mac. The following are my web-based favorites so far.
Feedly works with Chrome, Firefox, and mobile devices and syncs with Google Reader to manage your RSS feeds. They are working on a system to transition all of your feeds from Google Reader into Feedly before July 1st.
Their platform allows you to display your subscriptions with titles only, magazine style, timeline with thumbnails, mosaic, or full articles. They also have a search option that lets you look through all of your subscriptions or subscriptions in a particular section.
At the bottom, you can also see results from the blogosphere. They have social sharing buttons and the option to save your favorite articles. Plus there is a number next to posts that is supposed to represent the number of Facebook Likes + Google +1′s a post has received. It doens’t always seem accurate, but it’s a good indicator of the popularity of a post.
They also have a mobile app with a nice display for your subscriptions.
Netvibes allows you to subscribe to RSS feeds and view them in a Reader (list) or Widgets view. Simply create a free account and click the +Add Content button at the top left of your screen. There you will find the option to import your subscriptions.xml file. Netvibes will import your feeds as you have them organized from Google Reader folders to Netvibes tabs.
I personally find the Reader view loads faster than the Widgets view. Within the Reader view, you can use the dropdown on the right side to switch from List (titles only), Expanded (titles and full article / summary) or Mosaic (thumbnails) view. You can also select themes to stylize your reader.
The one thing missing from Netvibes? Search. So far, I haven’t found a good way to search your feeds besides using the browser’s CTRL+F option which only gets you results that have loaded on the page vs. searching the entire RSS feed history. Load time was also slow, but it could be due to the number of people searching for Google Reader alternatives. That and the Lifehacker article that went live while I was testing. Otherwise, not a bad choice. They also have a clean interface for mobile browsing.
Next on the list is Newsblur. Once you have created an account, you will be taken through a Get Started guide that allows you to import directly from Google Reader.
After you import your feeds, you will get the option to stay with a free account with a limited number of feeds automatically selected by their system or upgrade to a mega account to have all of your feeds for $12 per year.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, their system was mostly down. In response, they tweeted this.
— NewsBlur (@NewsBlur) March 13, 2013
They seem to have a lot of great features, including the ability to save stories and even publish your favorites quickly to your own Blurblog. They are planning a revamp in the next week or two which should mean more features ty check out. Hopefully the main site will include my Twitter handles and a search.
Why You Need to Write About This
Do you have a lot of subscribers in Google Reader? You can find out by subscribing to your own RSS feed in Google Reader, clicking on the dropdown next to the feed, and selecting View Details and Statistics.
This is the number of subscribers you stand to lose in July. And you can’t trust that they will see your updates on social media (see my post on Facebook Edgerank for more on that) or that they’ll come back to subscribe to all of their blogs via email before the shutdown.
It doesn’t matter that every other blog is probably going to cover this story. You need to cover it for your audience. They trust you most!
If RSS subscribers are important to your readership, then you will need to educate your readers today on how to transfer their subscriptions from Google Reader to a Google Reader Alternative of their choosing. The more subscribers you can educate, the more subscribers you will keep.
Your Google Reader Alternatives
Now it’s your turn. What RSS reader are you using or planning to use once Google Reader disappears?
PS. Join the 45K signature strong petition to keep Google Reader alive at Change.org!
PPS. If you plan on abandoning RSS altogether, be sure to subscribe to my updates via email using the box below!