Sign up for content marketing news and tips delivered every Tuesday.
Google Reader Now Reporting Subscriber Figures
Earlier this year, iGoogle started reporting the number of readers putting a
blog on their personalized home pages at Google. Now Google Reader is doing the
same, showing how many readers a blog has within Google’s dedicated feed reading
service. More on this below, especially how in contrast, FeedBurner/Google
Feedfetcher report a combined figure for iGoogle plus Google Reader, as well as
some top blog lists that are being assembled.
Google Now Reporting
Number Of Users Per Gadget from June explained how by finding a blog’s
"gadget" listing in iGoogle, you’d know how many readers get that blog in
iGoogle. For example, you’ll see
Search Engine Land here with 1,551 "users" or readers.
New Feed Subscriber
Stats & User Interface For Google Webmaster Central from last month
explained how site owners could get the number of readers they have in Google, a
combined figure of those using iGoogle and Google Reader. It detailed how by
subtracting the iGoogle figures you can get separately, the Google Reader
figures could be known.
Unfortunately, this was only available to individual site owners. Now, Google
spotted a new way that anyone can get Google Reader figures in the same way
that anyone can get iGoogle figures. Simply go to Google Reader and click on the
+ symbol by the Add Content link:
A new search box will appear. Enter the name of the blog you’re looking for
(or the blog address or feed address should also work):
Search, and you’ll get a listing
of matches. Next to each match is a rundown on the number of readers that blog
or feed has:
The example above shows two of the
various feeds that Search Engine Land
offers, including our most popular main feed, which has 3,910 subscribers. Note
that these feeds have different content — they are NOT simply three different
flavors (RSS versus Atom) of the same content. This is important later!
Remember that I mentioned a combined iGoogle+Google Reader figure is
available? My previous article on this
explained how Google reports
the combined figure via your log files (if you use FeedReader, this is where it gets its Google
Checking my combined figure for the most recent day available, October
13, I have 8,149 readers. Now let’s go to the individual figures I can get:
- iGoogle: 1,551
- Google Reader: 3,190
- Total: 4,741
Hmm — but my combined total was reported by Google as 8,149! What’s going
on? It could be that the individual figures are for different days (iGoogle
could be from last Wednesday; Google Reader from Sunday — you can’t tell). It could
also be that Google might be combining traffic for our different feeds into the
same number. That shouldn’t really be the case, however. I’ll check on this with
The main point is that many have long used Bloglines subscriptions as a way
to measure the popularity of a blog, and now Google has stepped up with its own
figures. Some of the buzz going
now to knock the usefulness of any lists of this
Sure, lists can be abused and have issues with them. But they can also
be a useful guide along with other factors. Certainly it’s nice to have both
figures from Bloglines and Google Reader rather than Google Reader alone.
Of course, even better to me would be a ranking by FeedBurner stats, since
the figures they provide give a blog’s combined readership across multiple
services. The Blogs &
Search Blogs With The Most Readers from me in April talked about how those
FeedBurner stats are developing into a "preferred currency" for measuring a
blog’s full worth. Yet, FeedBurner has issues. First, not everyone uses it.
Second, the stats themselves can vary widely based on how often a blog posts and
Still, the lists go on.
TechCrunch has assembled one of top blogs, and
Robert Scoble is assembling stats. Lee Odden
does one for the SEO crew, focusing just on search blogs (we’re at number
four, and it wouldn’t take much to move us in to number two —
subscribing to our search feed!).
has some helpful advice for those of whom have failed the learn the
lesson of Highlander and still offer RSS 0.91, RSS 2.0, and Atom versions of
your feeds in favor of one. C’mon — you only need one, not all three. Really,
pick one, anyone one, and you’re fine. Then
301 redirect those other ones.
Let’s swing back to Bloglines for a second. To see the readers for a feed
there, just search for the feed or blog by name (be sure to set the drop-down
box to feed):
Bloglines also has a long-standing list of the top blogs
here. There’s no guesswork with
that list, in that Bloglines knows ALL the blogs read through its service. In
contrast, the Google Reader lists that are being assembled aren’t true top lists
since there could be a blog that no one realizes is popular. If you don’t check
every blog, a popular one that should be on the list might go missing. That’s
why it would be useful if Google Reader would release its own top list. No doubt
some would immediately poke at such a list as just reinforcing A-Lister glory,
but I’d rather have a list than guesswork.
Postscript: Google Reader has now done an official blog post on the new figures with more information about them.