Tips on using feeds and information on subscriber counts in Reader

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Does your site have a feed? A feed can connect you to your readers and keep them returning to your content. Most blogs have feeds, but increasingly, other types of sites with frequently changing content are making feeds available as well. Some examples of sites that offer feeds:

Find out how many readers are subscribed to your feed

If your site has a feed, you can now get information about the number of Google Reader and Google Personalized home page subscribers. If you use Feedburner, you'll start to see numbers from these subscriptions taken into account. You can also find this number in the crawling data in your logs. We crawl feeds with the user-agent Feedfetcher-Google, so simply look for this user-agent in your logs to find the subscriber number. If multiple URLs point to the same feed, we may crawl each separately, so in this case, just count up the subscriber numbers listed for each unique feed-id. An example of what you might see in your logs is below:

User-Agent: Feedfetcher-Google; (+; 4 subscribers; feed-id=1794595805790851116)

Making your feed available to Google

You can submit your feed as a Sitemap in Webmaster Tools. This will let us know about the URLs listed in the feed so we can crawl and index them for web search. In addition, if you want to make sure your feed shows up in the list of available feeds for Google products, simply add a <link /> tag with the feed URL to the <head> section of your page. For instance:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml"  href="" />

Remember that Feedfetcher-Google retrieves feeds only for use in Google Reader and Personalized home page. For the content to appear in web search results, Googlebot will have to crawl it as well.

Don't yet have a feed?

If you use a content management system or blogging platform, feed functionality may be built right now. For instance, if you use Blogger, you can go to Settings > Site Feed and make sure that Publish Site Feed is set to Yes. You can also set the feed to either full or short and can add a footer. The URL listed here is what subscribers add to their feed readers. A link to this URL will appear on your blog.

More tips from the Google Reader team

In order to provide the best experience for your users, the Google Reader team has also put together some tips for feed publishers. This document covers feed best practices, common implementation pitfalls, and various ways to promote your feeds. Whether you're creating your feeds from scratch or have been publishing them for a long time, we encourage you to take a look at our tips to make the most of your feeds. If you have any questions, please get in touch.