Google hasn’t announced the death of FeedBurner yet, but killing off their popular RSS reader should cause bloggers and podcasters to think about their RSS feeds.
Read and listen to my separate instructions for how to leave FeedBurner if you want to get away from it right away. Or read on to learn more.
On March 13, 2013, Google announced that Google Reader will be retired (along with some other Google services).
We have just announced … that we will soon retire Google Reader (the actual date is July 1, 2013). We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go. We’re sad too.
There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.
To assist in your transition to a different RSS reader, Google is providing Google Takeout, a free service that will export your data in a format that other readers can use.
Other RSS readers?
I think Google Reader was still popular, but just not as a web app but more of a synchronization service. There are certainly many great desktop, web app, and mobile RSS readers out there. But many of the best have used Google Reader to synchronize.
I personally like Feedly for my desktop (via web app) and my iPhone, and Mr. Reader for my iPad. But with these two apps now having to look elsewhere for synchronizing, I may have to consider switching apps or else staying on only one platform for RSS reading.
What does this mean for bloggers and podcasters?
If you’re a content-creator, then you should be concerned—not paranoid—about the ownership and longevity of your RSS feed. This is how many of your audience consumes your content in their RSS readers and podcast catchers (podcatchers) of choice.
Google Reader is service design for consuming RSS feeds. When Google shuts it down on July 1, 2013, there will be many other great apps to use and content-creators won’t lose their audiences because loyal readers will find another way to consume the content.
But FeedBurner is a service for creating RSS feeds. If Google shuts that down, then you would lose your entire subscribing audience if you gave them a FeedBurner URL.
Google has not announced FeedBurner’s retirement, but that they are killing one major RSS component should make us consider the future of the other RSS component.
Regardless of whether FeedBurner shuts down, you must own your RSS feed! This means owning the URL that people are subscribed to. If your subscription URL is any domain other than one you own (like feeds.feedburner.com), then you don’t own your RSS feed.
Sure, you control it inside of FeedBurner. But if Google kills FeedBurner, then you lose control.
Should you leave FeedBurner?
Yes, I think you should. Not because the RSS sky is falling. But because you need to own your feed. If you rely on FeedBurner’s outdated features to manage your feed, look at the better alternatives (such as managing your feed from your own website).
But until FeedBurner’s retirement is announced (if it ever is retired), you can use this time to move your audience away from your FeedBurner URL to something you own.
If you still want to use FeedBurner until it’s death, then at least implement the MyBrand feature to allow your audience to subscribe to a URL you control (such as feeds.noodle.mx for my feeds) that then runs through FeedBurner via CNAME records. Then if FeedBurner ever shuts down, you can point the URL that you own and control to somewhere else.
I did a thorough blog post and audio podcast episode about how to leave FeedBurner and you should check it out if you’re serious about owning your feed and not losing your audience.