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The Death of Google Reader

May 16, 2013 Bradford Group Administrator

What its demise means for your Web content management

It’s the first link on my Bookmark Bar. A place I spend at least 10 minutes with everyday. And it’s leaving me.

Yes, I’m talking about Google Reader, and it’s leaving us. In March, Google announced that it was shutting down its RSS feed reader application on July 1, 2013.

Google Reader pic

Devoting a measly 72 words to its obituary, Google explained in a blog entry,

We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.

Though the company hasn’t given details on the numbers behind Google Reader’s “loyal following” or decline, in talking with reporters, public relations professionals and bloggers alike, I’ve learned that Google Reader was the primary way that many of us handled our Web content management.

Small Business Trends even reported that 108,000 people, or 90%, of its RSS feed subscribers use Google Reader. And this is a site with only 209,300 unique monthly visitors.

As a company, the Bradford Group has it written in our onboarding manual that new employees need to use Google Reader to set up news alerts to monitor our clients and our clients’ business names.

We also routinely monitor keywords feeds to stay on top of topical news to keep our media pitches relevant, timely and part of the larger news cycle.

Professionally, I use Google Reader to organize client, news and online reputation management information that I have to browse daily. Personally, I use it to monitor an onslaught of food and music blogs that I use to plan my grocery list, curate my Pinterest account and stay relatively versed in the Nashville music scene.

The beauty of using Google Reader is that I can scan all of this information in one place, on my own time without the disrupting ping to my email inbox, or requiring that I visit multiple websites everyday.

So what now?

Well, in the short term, there are countless other RSS feeder options to transition to, from Feedly and NetVibes to My Yahoo and FeedReader.

Marketing Land has a list of its top 12 Google Reader Alternatives if you’re looking for a place to start your research. Fast Company has organized its list of alternatives by Google Reader users’ personas, so if you’re someone who wants “something brand spanking new to impress your friends” or if “you’re a mobile social media obsessive,” Fast Company has a solution for you.

In the long term, it’s important for avid users of Google Reader—yes, that includes me—to publically acknowledge that Google Reader was clunky, not terribly user friendly, and honestly, still an overwhelming way to consume news and manage Web content.

I bet if you asked a middle or high school-aged kid what an RSS feed was, you’d get a big, blank stare. That’s because with advances in social media and mobile applications like Flipboard, there’s just a better way to stay up-to-date.

How are you planning to replace Google Reader? Hit me up with your suggestions in the comments below?

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