By Deana Haworth, Vice President, Director of Account Services
Last week, a dismal notification popped up as Google Reader users logged into their accounts to access their RSS feeds: “Google Reader will not be available after July 1, 2013.”
Google Reader, launched in 2005, allows users to “subscribe” to new content added to any website they choose (e.g., http://hirons.wpengine.com/blog). When they log into their account, they can scroll through all the updated content in their RSS feeds, eliminating the necessity to visit each website individually just to see if new content has been added in the first place. Think of a Facebook timeline or a Twitter feed, except all the posts are new content published by the sites of your choosing.
For a service Google doesn’t feel is worth continuing to operate, Google Reader’s impending shutdown has certainly caught the attention of the Internet. Users’ protests to the shutdown have been covered in mainstream publications such as USA Today and The Guardian, popular Internet new sites including the Huffington Post and well-read tech publications such as Wired and PCWorld.
Since 2011, Google has discontinued 70 digital products through what it called a “spring cleaning” process on a blog post, but no one saw many headlines about the demise of GUI Builder, CalDav API and Google Building Maker, three other products Google announced it will discontinue on the same day it made the Google Reader announcement.
One reason for this may be Google Reader’s declining but “loyal following.” Google doesn’t say how many people still use Google Reader, but a change.org petition called “Google: Keep Google Reader Running” had garnered 145,861 electronic signatures as of Friday morning. One member of this loyal following even launched his own website: keepgooglereader.com.
The outcry has been heard loudest from this loyal following, but Google Reader’s users aren’t the only ones reeling from this news. Many content producers, whether bloggers, news outlets or marketing professionals, have lost a major traffic source to their site and are scrambling for a replacement.
Herein lies a modern take on a lesson grandma taught you when you were a child: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Digital content producers should look at their network of traffic funnels as a stock portfolio — increasing diversity minimizes risk.
This is an opportunity to explore all the traffic sources available, for example, search engine optimization, social media and, of course, the myriad feeds (such as feedly) trying to move in on the market opportunity Google Reader’s exit is creating. Like anything else, the Internet is constantly changing, and we have to remember not to get too comfortable.
After all, if Google isn’t forever, what is?