Many of you may have already heard the news: Google Reader is shutting down due to a decline in users. Some of you might even be asking: “what is Google Reader, and why should I care?” Technically you don’t have to care if you’ve never used it, but it’s been an invaluable tool for me in my hunt for bigger and better jobs. Essentially it’s a tool built into your Google account that allows you to consolidate all your job search terms into one convenient reader that continually updates in real time. Job search sites like Indeed.com, Mediabistro, and Craigslist have included very convenient RSS Feed buttons in order to aid you in this endeavor. Simply type in your search, however broad or specific, and click the RSS link to add it to your reader. Once you have a bunch of feeds, you can create a folder labeled “Job Search” and drag all your feeds into it, then presto! You have job listings from all your favorite job sites in one convenient page! Simple, convenient, fantastic. But since not enough people are utilizing this tool, Google will be dismantling it and focusing their efforts elsewhere.
Luckily Google isn’t cutting us off cold turkey. You can still find the Reader under “More” though for a few days last week it was absent from the menu. The announcement was made on March 13th 2013, and the shut-down transitional period will happen over the next 3 months. During this time you can save your RSS feeds and use them in other readers that are still available.
While this may be a good move in a business sense, Google Reader’s demise might spell trouble for its current users. For many small publishers like MG Siegler, it has been the lifeblood (or flower) of his traffic. He explains that Reader’s design may have been the reason for its failing: “The key element of Reader, of course, is that it allows readers to consume content without visiting a site if they choose to.” There may be a much larger user base than reported in Google’s metrics, but due to the overly convenient nature of its design, those metrics just could not be measured.
But don’t despair, RSS fans, because where one good feature shuts down, another will quickly fill the void. The top contender appears to be Feedly, who has now monetized this portion of the RSS world in the mobile app sector. Maybe Google Reader will come back one day. It’s hard to imagine that such a large and innovative company wouldn’t be able to make something this awesome work!