When Google announced the soon-to-be eliminated Google Reader feature will disappear, how did you react?
Now that we know the day Google Reader will cease to exist (July 1), we can all start our mourning process and begin to give a favorite feature a long kiss goodbye. The response to the end of this seemingly well-used and well-liked blog and article feed has been mostly negative, but Google themselves made the argument slightly more understandable.
“Usage of Google reader has declined, and as a company, we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products,” Google said in an official announcement. “We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.”
Okay, so there’s no way around this disappearance. Instead, smart business bloggers need to do some preparations that will hopefully keep their readers reading, and keep stretching content as far and as wide as possible.
The readership losses are going to happen, but if steps are taken ahead of time, you can make up for those losses in innovative and effective ways.
1. Retaining Readers
Email is going to be a front-running alternative to Google Reader lists, and should be a strategy already instilled in a successful blog. Sending email subscribers updates on recent blog posts, and even putting together a weekly Newsletter, will help maintain the level of traffic and engagement.
MailChimp is a good place to start learning about creating targeted landing pages that can be used to add email subscriptions, and their autoresponder feature will help automate the process.
2. Finding Alternatives
Just about every marketing and tech media outlet has offered up their suggestions for other RSS feed options, and most have come to similar conclusions on the best options.
Feedly has been the most popular choice, with more than 500,000 Google Reader converts in the first few days following the announcement of its end. The recommendation features are cutting-edge, and it has some great social media tools built directly into it.
NewsBlur is a free or paid service (depending on the volume you require) that is very similar to Google Reader, giving it a good shot at capturing many of the shifting content consumers. A lot of customization, including the ability to view text-only versions (cutting down on visual distractions), makes NewsBlur pretty attractive.
3. Keep Control
Most importantly, bloggers need to have control of the change and convey this to their readers. Keeping them involved in the decisions to replace or substitute for Google Reader will only help with transparency and objective.
Heck, it’s well worth it to flat out ask readers for their suggestions, or solicit ideas that they are already familiar with to make the transition smooth. Withhold that open line of communication, and you’ll be surprised at how helpful it can be for both reader and blogger.
Now that you’ve got some idea of the steps you can take to prepare, what are your thoughts? What else can be done? What other RSS alternatives are out there? What’s your overall plan for surviving the disappearance of Google Reader?
Leave a comment and get ready for some changes. T-minus three months from D-Day, so start working now to make the transition problem-free.