Blog TipsSEO

How To Get the Most From Your Google Reader

By Aug 4, 2011July 3rd, 201441 Comments

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On Monday, we announced that our Food & Lifestyle channel is changing!  Going forward, we’re giving our community yet another way to be featured with our “how to” post series.  This is your chance to guest post on SITS.  To get involved, simply send your post to sitsspotlight@gmail.com and we’ll get you added to our queue.  All post titles need to start with the phrase…How To.  In other words, your job is to teach our readers something about what you know. Your topic could be informative, serious, funny, entertaining, whatever. The choice is yours.

Joining us today is Anne from Lady Anne.  She is teaching us why we need to give Google Reader a second chance. And after reading what she has to say, I definitely will be!

I feel like Google Reader is a love it or hate it kind of thing – people either can’t live without it, or can’t live with it.  I fall into the “love it – can’t live without it” camp, and I want to share some tips to help you fall in love with Google Reader all over again.  It really can be a great tool to help you keep up with blogs and other websites, and I think it’s much easier to remember to check one thing online than two hundred.

1. The “Next” Button

One of the downfalls of Google Reader is that reading posts inside Google Reader doesn’t give the blogger page views.  Well, that just won’t do!  We have to give our bloggy buddies page view love, and you can with the next button.

rss reader

Clicking on that button, on the right side of your bookmarks toolbar in Firefox, takes you to your next unread post in Google Reader.  Neat, huh?

2.  Folders

Google Reader will automatically sort your subscriptions alphabetically, but I prefer to have them in folders sorted by topic.  This helps me prioritize reading when I don’t have a ton of time, or just when I want to keep things organized.  You could create a folder for blogs from the SITS 31DBBB challenge, or fabulous food bloggers.

rss reader

3.  “Mark all as read”

The biggest complaint I hear about Google Reader is that it gets overwhelming.  And it can!  I think the key to staying sane is giving yourself permission to hit that “Mark all as read” button.  If you’ve just gotten back from vacation and you have over a thousand unread items in your reader, plus the million other online and offline things to catch up on, it can be a bit much.  Just do it – hit “Mark all as read” and start from zero.  Hit up some of your favorite “must read” blogs and see what you missed, but don’t feel like you have to read everything.  What’s the worst that will happen?  You may miss some good posts, but if you’re stressed about reading everything, you’re not having fun, and that’s the whole point of the blogosphere.

rss reader

4.  Google Reader Widget

I use iGoogle as my homepage, and I have the Google Reader widget front and center.  This gives me a preview of my five newest posts, and lets me scroll through to see all of them.  I love the widget because it gives me a little preview and lets me see if there’s something  that I “must read” as soon as I open my browser.

rss reader

5.  Don’t be Afraid to Unsubscribe

If there’s a blog or website in your reader and you find yourself constantly hitting “mark all as read”, go ahead and unsubscribe.  Why keep stuff in your feed if it’s just clutter?  If it’s meant to be, you’ll find that blog again.  It’s happened to me – I wasn’t feeling a blog, so I unsubscribed, then a few months later “discovered” the blog again and subscribed.  Nothing’s final – you can add and remove at your leisure.

rss reader

6.  It’s Not Just for Blogs!

I have a TON of stuff in my Google Reader – not just blogs!  From local news to Cute Overload to Tip Junkie Giveaways – I have all kinds of websites in my reader.  You can add anything with an RSS feed – go ahead, try it.

rss reader

* As you can tell by these screenshots – I’m one of those people who (tries) to keep my Google Reader at zero.  But then, I’m also the kind of person who obsessively cleans out my email inbox.  Also – I would never unsubscribe from SITS.  😉

google readerAnne Hogan is a 20-something workaholic and social media addict. In her rare free time she likes to experiment with crafts, cooking, gardening and home décor. You can find her at LadyAnne.me, where she shares her latest adventures along with copious pictures of her rescued Pomeranian, Teddy.

About Francesca

Francesca has an extensive background in content marketing, public relations, and social outreach. She oversees all Operations at Sway Group, including our robust metrics capabilities. Prior to joining the online world, Francesca oversaw viticulture and oenology at various wineries in both California and Italy, and managed regulatory affairs and facility approvals at the biotech company, Genentech. Francesca has been featured on CBS Sacramento and Food Blogger Pro’s podcast. She has also hosted an AMA webinar and spoken at Social Media World.


  • Maggie says:

    such great tips! thanks for sharing!

  • Alene says:

    Another question I have about Google Reader is — Is there any way to tell how many subscribe to your blog via Google Reader?

  • Alene says:

    Thanks for the info on how to unsubscribe! and mostly for giving me permission to hit “mark all as read” and start over. Awesome!

  • Venassa says:

    I just discovered google reader and I love it. I was reading in blogger before. What was I thinking?

  • I’m one of those that get overwhelmed by Google Reader. Think I’ll go mark all as read and give it another shot! :>

  • Jen says:

    I love using my Google reader and I had no idea about some of these features.


  • Michelle says:

    Great Google Reader tips. I stopped using Google Reader when I discovered feedly – for me it makes blog reading & commenting a cinch (you can comment on blogs without having to leave your feedly page!). 😉

  • I’m loving these awesome tips, I admit that I have a lot of subscriptions but I don’t go into my google reader that often I try and go to the blogs themselves in order to give them page views – so I’m stoked about the Next button! I’ll definitely check that out!

    I’m a new follower of the SITS site, been book blogging for almost 6 months now and loving it, so looking forward to discovering what resources and other tips are here! Great site!

    April @ My Shelf Confessions

  • Becca says:

    thanks for this i was wandering how it all worked

  • Becca says:

    thanks for this i was wandering how it all worked

  • Andi says:

    I have been trying to figure out how to create folders for awhile (#2) – can someone explain how to do it?

    • Anne says:

      Sure thing! Click on one of the subscriptions in your reader, then up at the top click on “Feed Settings” and you’ll get a drop down menu. The next-to-last item should say “New Folder…” you can click on that and create a new folder for that subscription. Then, just keep going and either adding new folders or adding your subscriptions to folders you already created. I hope that helps!

  • Breann says:

    I love this! I hated that I wasn’t adding hits to sites, AND i admit I was less likely to comment since it was an extra few steps. Awesome!

  • Rach says:

    Great tips!

  • Semper Wifey says:

    I just figured out how to do folders last week! It has forever changed my blogging life for the better! 🙂

  • Semper Wifey says:

    I just figured out how to do folders last week! It has forever changed my blogging life for the better! 🙁

  • Michelle says:

    I don’t know what I would do without Google Reader on my igoogle page. Thanks for the info on unsubscribing-I clean out often but was going through a much more tedious process than that. Excellent information.

  • Lauren says:

    Thanks for that tip about the “next” button, can’t wait to try it out!

  • Marta says:

    Huh, I had no idea that google reader wouldn’t track reads. Well I’m clearly going to have to add the next button then!

  • looking forward to using these great tips with Google Reader, THANKS!

  • I love this idea! And I love the ‘next’ button – so much better to see the real site rather than just the next in Google Reader, most of the time anyway 😉

  • Great, helpful tips! Sometimes Google Reader can feel a little overwhelming… I love catching up on all the blogs and try at least once a week!

  • Luci says:

    This is great stuff. I really like Google reader because I know I can always catch up on blogs – when I have time. It doesn’t have to be when they are written. I love the “show as lists” feature because I can skim and see what I want to read and skip all else. Thanks for the good post!

  • I use my Google reader every day.

    But I really have no idea what you are talking about in your first point, in terms of page views. Could you explain that further?

    The “next” button is at the bottom of the page, if you use Chrome for your browser, as I do. (It might be different in other browsers as well…I don’t know.)

    • Anne says:

      Sure thing. Basically, if you go to Google Reader and read a blog post, that doesn’t show up as activity for the blog. So in Google Analytics (or whatever analytics that blog owner uses) they won’t see a pageview. But – if you use the “Next” button, it actually takes you to the blog to read the post, so it registers as a pageview for the blog.

      It’s really just a nice way to spread the love – bloggers use their pageview numbers to set ad rates, get sponsorships, and just to measure how well they’re doing and what content of theirs is popular.

      This really only affects blogs that have full posts in Google Reader. You’ll notice that SITS, for example, just shows the title and the first few sentances of a blog post. To read the whole thing, you have to click over to the site. But for blogs that show the whole post in the reader, you could be reading everything they post, everyday, and they would never know if you don’t click over. Of course, you could click through in Google Reader, but I like the Next button because that way I don’t end up with 50 tabs open.

  • I did use it for awhile as my home page … and one day it disappeared. I need to figure that out … It was super convenient to have my fav blogs and other websites all in one place. Thanks for the tips!!

  • rachel says:

    this is great. I found the next button a couple months ago and fell in LOVE! and I too keep my reader clean, and my inbox uncluttered. : )

  • Great tips! I think it’s great that I’m not the only one who marks all as read when it gets overwhelming 🙂 I go through my subscriptions every 2-3 weeks to declutter, it’s the only way I can keep on top of it.

  • I love Google Reader! And I whole-heartedly agree with the power of the “Mark as Read” button. Sometimes you just have to know when to clear the deck and start fresh!

    The other “tip” that I would share is the toggle between “Show” and “Expanded” in the upper right hand corner. Most of the time I leave it set to “Expanded” where I can see the entire post in my window, but when I get behind and I have tons of unread posts in a category (coupon/deal sites for example), I will select the folder and then click the “List” button so that I can see a list of the unread posts by blog, post title, and a short excerpt from the beginning of the post. From this list view it is easy to quickly select and read the posts that I am most interested in and skip the ones that I don’t need to read.

    Thanks for this refresher!

    • Anne says:

      That’s a great tip! I have to confess that the coupon/deal sites are the most frequent victims of “mark all as read” in my reader. 😉

  • I use google reader, and have definitely NOT been using it to it’s fullest potential! Thanks for the tips!!!!

  • I could not live without it! I have it on my igoogle page too but then go into the reader so I can choose what order I read things. In that widget, they are always sequential based on when posted. I don’t have that tool bar so didn’t know about the next button. Love the folders though. BUT I cannot ever bring myself to mark all as read.

  • lindsey says:

    Great post! I’m not familiar with the “Next” button … can you tell me how I can get it? Thanks!