Google has recently launched a new service called Google Reader. This service, available at http://reader.google.com/(Link removed – service discontinued) allows users to search for and easily manage RSS feeds, giving quick and easy access to the most current information and news on the topics that interest you most.
For those of you unfamiliar with RSS feeds, they are simply itemized lists in an RSS file that can be pick up and displayed on other websites and or read through the use of RSS readers. Bloggers typically us RSS to syndicate their blog posts. For example, people wishing to keep updated on what’s going on at Google may use a reader to display their RSS feed (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/atom.xml) thus allowing them instant access to any new posts in their blog.
As most are aware, the popularity of blogs and RSS with it has increased and undoubtedly will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. One has to admit, instant access to up-to-date information on topics of interest has it’s appeal. The launch of Google Reader is a giant step for the average surfer. It provides an easy and powerful tool for visitors to find and manage the feeds they are interested in.
How To Use Google Reader?
For many who are less familiar with RSS, the notion of downloading an RSS reader, configuring it, etc. seems a daunting task when one can simply visit their favorite news site or use the new search feature of their favorite search engine. Understandably there are many who would rather not undertake the task of trying to understand something new when the information they are looking for is otherwise available through other means. While this is true, RSS allows a user to keep updated on the news they might not even be aware of to look for. Google knows this and thus, Google Reader was born.
To use Google Reader (and I high recommend at least giving it a quick try) you will need to take the following steps:
- Visit the Google Reader site at http://reader.google.com/.
- Use the search box for a topic of interest (“google” for example)
- Look through the results for a feed of interest (I personally chose “Google News”)
- Click “Subscribe”
That’s all there is to signing up for a feed. You can sign up for one or many of them.
At this point you’re probably wondering what you just got for this 20 seconds of effort. If we now click back to the reader homepage (add it to your Favorites for easy access in the future) you see on the left-hand side a list of the feeds you’ve subscribed to. If you choose a feed, on the right hand side you’ll see all the new posts to that feed.
This is perhaps one of the best products to come from Google in quite a while. I’ll admit that the folks at Google are seldom short of interesting and innovative ideas however from a usability and “making your life easier” standpoint the system they have developed here allows even the less technical to easily gain access to current information and keep updated effortlessly.
Who Should Use It?
Quite honestly Google Reader, due to its power and easy of use, is a helpful tool for virtually anybody who wants to keep themselves updated on information from world news to hockey scores. That said, there are definitely people who will be prone to become “power users” of this service. People who need quick access to the most current information, from reporters and researchers to business people and consultants will find this service invaluable. I know as an SEO that I’ll be using it often as keeping on top of even the smallest changes, services and search engine updates can be crucial to the success of a campaign.
While all of the benefits noted above are good for the average user, they have also added some advanced features. The advanced features include:
GMail this – Never ones’ to miss an opportunity to promote their own services and drop some ads in it, they have added a link to “GMail this” to others. Of course you have to have a GMail account to use the service which means you either have to be invited by and existing GMail user of have a mobile phone and be living in the US.
Blog This! – This is definitely my favorite of the advanced features. If you’re using Blogger (again, a Google property) you can click the “Blog This!” link and it will open a window to your Blogger account and insert a link to the blog you want to reference.
What Does This Mean For SEO’s?
The launch of Google Reader stands to make blogs and RSS an even more important componant in a thorough Internet Marketing strategy. With content syndication now made so much easier for the average user, it’s popularity is sure to climb significantly. People will begin reading and using feeds more regularly and it won’t just be the more technical that can benefit from this highly effective communications method.
While it’s definitely a simple system to setup and use, there may still be many of you wondering exactly what RSS is, how to use it on your own site, how to set it up, and perhaps a few even wondering what a blog is and how you can add one to your site. For you, here are some links to some helpful resources on the topic:
RSS (file format) – One the Wikipedia site you’ll find great information on this technology and links to other useful resources on the subject.
Client Communications As Ranking Tools – An article on the use of blogs by veteran SEO Jim Hedger. Covers the use of blogs for SEO as well as in client communications.
Blogger – There are many different tools and software packages for developing a blog on your website. Blogger is one of the easiest to use, includes a simple way to add an RSS feed of your blog, and do I need to mentioned that it’s owned by Google? This won’t get you a higher ranking on the blog search but it’ll certainly help insure that your blog and feed are developed using a technology they can easily read.