Google Reader Alternatives

March 15, 2013 , 2 Comments

Google has announced that they are closing down Reader, probably the most popular RSS reader on the net. As a result, bloggers are worried about losing readers and traffic and Reader users are worried about losing all their nicely aggregated news.

In this post, we’ll have a quick look at how to solve both of those issues.

Traffic Anxiety

If you’re worried about losing traffic from Google Reader going bye bye, there are two things to consider.

First: I told you so.

If you own a blog, your primary conversion should be to get your readers on a mailing list. Email readers are more valuable than RSS subscribers and if your main subscriber base is via email, then you aren’t that worried about the Google Reader news.

Having said that, engaged RSS subscribers won’t disappear along with Google Reader. They’ll find a way to keep their subscriptions and just move to a different reader. Here are the three things you can do, to make the best of this situation:

  1. Use this opportunity to invite RSS subscribers to your mailing list.
  2. Change the main calls to action on your blog to email subscriptions (in case they are currently something else).
  3. Recommend an alternative. Write a post on your blog, send a couple updates via social media (e.g. link to a post like this one) and generally help your subscribers make a painless transition.

With that in mind, here are the best Google Reader alternatives:


Feedly LogoFeedly is a reader available as a browser plugin as well as in the form of various mobile apps. It works by integrating with Google Reader (which is done through a very simple process of granting API access, in just a few clicks). Very cleverly, Feedly have already been working on a transition plan for when Google Reader shuts down.

In practice, this means you don’t have to worry about the transition. Create a Feedly account today, connect it to your Reader account and everything else will be taken care of.

Feedly sports a nice, minimal user interface and feed content loads quickly (despite its fondness for displaying thumbnail images and showing fancy, fading transitions). They’ve held up remarkably well under the increased load from what must be a big flood of new users, too.

The Old Reader

Old Reader LogoThe Old Reader is based on an older version of Google Reader. The interface will be instantly familiar and Old Reader is a great choice for anyone who’d just like things to stay the same.

Here’s how to transfer all your Reader folders and feeds into The Old Reader:

  1. In Google Reader, click on the gear icon in the top right and select “Reader Settings”.
  2. Select the “Import/Export” tab and click on the export link at the bottom:
  3. On the next page, wait for the calculations to finish, then click on the “Create Archive” button at the bottom.
  4. Once the archive file is created, download it and unpack it (it’s a .zip file).
  5. In The Old Reader, click on the “Import” link in the top right, then select the subscriptions.xml file from the unpacked Reader archive on your hard-drive and upload it.

Done! You can now enjoy browsing your RSS subscriptions as if (almost) nothing had changed!

There are no mobile apps (as far as I can tell) for the Old Reader, but since it’s in the cloud, it is still accessible from most mobile devices. This is, to me, a much better alternative than mobile-only apps, of which there are also many available.


newsblur-logo-140NewsBlur is a different take on RSS reading, as it opens like a sidebar for your browser and renders the actual page content when you select a story to read (whereas most readers load only the content, in their own style).

There’s a nifty live demo that you can try out, directly on the NewsBlur site, so it’s only a matter of a minute of your time to find out whether this is the right reader for you. They have suffered a bit from the influx of new users, so the demo might be a bit sluggish at the moment. Things are bound to clear up very quickly, though.

Migrating from Google to NewsBlur is a very easy process, done in a few clicks, much like with Feedly. There are also NewsBlur apps available for mobile devices.

More Alternatives

To find more reader alternatives for all sorts of operating systems and devices, you can always head over to the trusty AlternativeTo site and see what the community members love most.

If you have other favorites, let me know by leaving a comment below!

The bottom line is that the death of Google Reader is not as tragic as it might have first seemed. There are great alternatives ready and waiting for you. And as Leo Widrich concluded on the Buffer blog, we might be looking at a blessing in disguise: the end of Google Reader could mean the beginning of new innovation in the RSS space.

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About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • I recently found out that GR is being phased out. Too bad! I really enjoyed using Google Reader. I began looking for a decent replacement and came across Feedly. I also viewed a YouTube video about Feedly, and saw that it was pretty easy to use.

    I’ve been using Feedly for the last few days, and I’m getting used to it. I agree that the interface is a bit minimal, but you can adjust your layout. They may be open to interface improvements.

    As far as readers that may stop receiving my feeds, I think you have good solutions to that problem. You can reach out to your subscribers and help them through the change, and try to add additional value for your readers at the same time.


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