Google Reader Is Almost Gone, But Do You Really NEED An RSS Reader Replacement?

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It’s been 3 months since Google announced that Reader was being put out to pasture, and now July 1st is looming just around the corner. Have you found your replacement yet?

Shortly after the announcement, I wrote an article for Search Engine Journal discussing promising Reader replacements. Now, on the other end of slow Reader withdrawal, let’s see how those options are holding up.

Which RSS Reader Should You Use?

At the moment, Feedly is at the head of the pack. It was one of my favorite choices at the very beginning of my hunt for a proper replacement, and it seems that others have agreed. Across the board, Feedly is the most highly-recommended replacement in the RSS market.

This is possible because it’s the most easily-integrated RSS platform. You can export all of your old feeds from Reader for a seamless transition, and it has a plug-in for every browser except Internet Explorer.

After two months of using it, the only problem with Feedly that I’ve come across is that it can sometimes be clunky—especially on a mobile device. When I’m looking to consume a large amount of data, I don’t need an interface with any extra frills. This is something that can be seen with most other reader options.

For the sole purpose of information intake, Google Reader remains king. It was simple and clean, and though have some have cited this as a lack of innovation on Reader’s part, ultimately Reader was perfect for digesting large amounts of reading material both during downtime and on-the-go.

In fact, despite it’s impending retirement, none of the up-and-coming readers promise as much in terms of pure data consumption as Reader, which poses a big question: Why did Google get rid of Reader in the first place?

Google’s major claim has been that the resources simply weren’t there to maintain Reader, but I have a theory that Reader’s shutdown is part of a much larger play on Google’s part.

Are RSS Readers A Platform of the Past?

While resources might have been slim for Reader, the fact that it was such a popular platform makes one wonder why Google didn’t push to make it more successful. Instead, they let Google Reader die.


Could it be that Google is transitioning away from the RSS Reader format entirely? They’re switching over to Google Plus, and they want you to come with them.

Consuming social media as part of an RSS feed is not exactly new—that’s exactly what Digg is doing when it launches its own reader, the same day Reader shuts down. But to do away with readers entirely, relying solely on a social platform? When we’re looking at large-scale data consumption, is it a viable transition?

The answer is yes—if Google can pull it off. With the latest Google Plus redesign, this social platform is now much more social, making it easier to stream and share information. It could be possible to amass “feeds” of information… if you’re following the right people. And in order to make sure the right people are on Plus, Google got rid of it’s eminently popular Reader.

It could also be said that Google is simply following on the heels of a major trend in how we access information. RSS readers were designed for people to sit down and browse their collected feeds. But with the increasing number of those who use smartphones and tablets as their primary internet checkpoint, it’s more common to see people who are accessing information all day long, checking the latest news on a constant basis—which makes an integrated social media/reader platform much more probable option.

Google’s greatest currency is data, and to have both social and news in one place would elevate Google Plus’ usability and appeal, a fact I’m sure Google is extremely aware of.

What does this mean for you? Should you drop all your feeds and stick to social media? Not yet, but considering that Google is pushing Plus in every way that it can, it can only hurt you to ignore the signs.

In the meantime, Feedly will have to do. Flipboard is another great platform for reading RSS feeds on your mobile device, turning your feeds and links from your social media sites into a personalized, digital magazine. In terms of innovation, Flipboard doesn’t feel like an RSS reader—which might be the point.

Regardless of where you’re going to end up taking your feeds, you should make sure to download and export your RSS feeds from Reader before July 1st so you don’t lose any of your subscriptions!

My plan?  Use Feedly for when I just want to read news.  Create circles on Google Plus according to my Reader folders.  Start circling/following everyone on Plus that I normally follow.  There might be a few of my favorite sites that aren’t sharing on Plus—hopefully everyone will catch on soon enough.    I’m going to enjoy Reader to its very last day, and then you will seem me on Google Plus—Finally.  I have no doubt that Plus is the future of Google. It’s time to hop on board.


Marcela De Vivo
Marcela De Vivo has been an SEO since 1999, promoting thousands of sites including large corporate sites and small mom and pop businesses. She loves... Read Full Bio
Marcela De Vivo
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  • The Marketing Design

    I’ve tested a few other readers as well in the emanate absence of Google Reader. Feedly has come as a clear choice for me as well. Biggest downside for feedly is the lack of internal search function. You can search, but it searches the web and other sources. I’ve used Reader not only as a news feed but also information storage and when I want to go back to articles I’ve saved the internal search is the only way to go. Interestingly when I began using feedly it did have this function and It disappeared a matter of weeks later. I’ve seen LOTS of suggestions to bring it back so hopefully they will re-incorporate.

    • Sahil

      Absolutely right that Google Plus will be the future leader of social media, the new design and some cool unique features are helping them stay authoritative & in the competition on social media which is by far the most competitive niche on the internet. They have got a plenty of catch up to do but are in the hunt for sure. Like Facebook acquired Instagram, if Google acquires Pinterest it would definitely be a real boost to them on social media front.

  • Carmen Rane Hudson

    I’ve come to absolutely adore Feedly. I love how I can sort everything into categories so I can go right to the content I need and want. This isn’t just a matter of me keeping up with blogs that I’m kind of interested in. It’s a way for me to manage the overall blog community that I’m watching and interacting with for any given site that I manage. I sort of had to wrinkle my nose at the thought of doing that on G+. There are people I follow who aren’t on G+ and don’t want to go!

  • Luis Alberto Barandiaran

    I prefer NetVibes wholeheartedly. It takes a little while to configure correctly an to to find the top button that let’s you view items in Reader format. Once setup however, I find it to be a more robust solution that Google Reader itself..

  • Chris Rand

    As I see it:
    Number of people in IT sector who use/understand RSS: medium
    Number of people in IT sector who use/understand G+: low
    Number of people outside of IT sector who use/understand RSS: low
    Number of people outside of IT sector who use/understand G+: almost zero.

    Google doesn’t have to do much to get more out of G+ than it does from RSS, which is minimal anyway. But it’ll fail to get anywhere unless it can finally explain to people outside of the IT sector what G+ actually is, and what it gives them – if anything – that other services don’t.