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Gini Dietrich

Lots of Changes at Google: What it Means for You

By: Gini Dietrich | April 1, 2013 | 
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Lots of Changes at Google- What it Means for YouAll of the changes at Google are enough to make you want to cry over spilled milk.

As if it wasn’t enough to hear rumors Feedburner is shutting down, then they announce Reader is retiring and now Alerts is next?

I’ve always said we’re not the user of Google – we’re the product – so it shouldn’t be so devastating when they take away our free products, but change is hard. And it is devastating.

On the flip side, however, they’re launching some new things that will help you retrieve data and make better decisions: Universal Analytics and they began showing you trackbacks to your site.

Let’s first talk about where you can go to get the services you’re accustomed to having without a lot of pain in change.

Feedburner Replacement

A few months ago, when the rumor of Feedburner going away hit the blogosphere, we decided to be proactive in making the switch.

We reviewed both free and paid alternatives and settled on Feedblitz. It is the most mature of all of the options and, while it’s not free, you have access to all of your email and RSS subscribers…something Feedburner is wonky about.

If you want a totally free option, you can use Feedblitz for your RSS subscribers and MailChimp for your email subscribers. But remember, you get what you pay for and that certainly is the case here.

It’s not totally painless to switch to Feedblitz, but Phil Hollows and his team are extremely responsive and, in some cases, will even get into your site’s admin to help you troubleshoot.

There are also lots of tutorials on the web, including this one from Just Ask Kim.

Reader Replacement

I was very, very upset when I learned about the death of Reader…and then I found Feedly.

After using it for a couple of weeks, I want to yell, “So long suckers!”

I. Love. It.

Love, love, love.

Not only does it appeal to my need for balance in design, it feeds me my content in a very appealing way. No more red circle staring at me every time I open my browser, reminding me I’m a total slacker and I need to get by to visit other’s blogs.

Even better, the tablet app is gorgeous and I’ve found pleasure in reading blogs from there because of it.

Alerts Replacement

This one hurt, mostly because I may have to go back to every organization I’ve ever spoken to and ask them to tell past attendees Alerts is dead.

But, like Reader, I’m okay with this one because I have found Talk Walker.

I was very happy with Alerts until I set up Talk Walker and discovered how many things Google was missing and how late they are in delivering things to me.

Set up just like Alerts, Talk Walker is much more efficient and timely in delivering pertinent information.

I’d have both going for two weeks, just to be sure you haven’t missed anything, and then delete your Alerts. You’ll be much happier with the results from Talk Walker.

Good Changes at Google

But it’s not all bad. As they retire some of their more popular services, they’re introducing two things that will help you retrieve data in a way that is extremely valuable in helping you make informed decisions about the people who are visiting your site.

Universal Analytics

Essentially what the universal analytics does is give you more control over customizing the information you get. It allows you now to get information not just from those coming from websites, but from mobile, too.

What they’ve done is open the developer tools to all of us. I set up ours on Friday of last week so it’s only had a few days to collect information for me. I’ll report back when I have data points to share.

In the meantime, you can set up yours by following the steps outlined in the Google support section.

Trackbacks

I’m really excited about this new feature because it not only gives you information you may have previously missed, it helps you determine the best use of your content.

What a trackback means is someone has linked to your site or to a specific piece of content on their site. Typically, if you’re on a WordPress blog, you’ll receive an email if someone links to a particular blog post. But if they link just to the website (this happens all the time to spinsucks.com), you don’t get an email.

Just from that alone, this makes me happy. Finally I can see who is linking to us without relying solely on Google alerts (which we now know wasn’t collecting everything).

But now you have tools for your content strategy, including building relationships with those who are already linking to your content and creating a strategy around your content that is linked to the most.

Danny Brown has a good list of things to consider in “Using the New Trackbacks in Your Content Strategy.”

So there you have it. I highly recommend immediately switching to Feedly and Talk Walker to replace Reader and Alerts.

Rumor has it you have a few more months to switch your RSS and email subscription service, but definitely start thinking about it. When you switch, it won’t be as easy as the press of a button so give yourself some time to learn more about Feedblitz and get your readers ready.

P.S. See the comments below about the activity hub, which is part of trackbacks. You need someone with programming experience to help you set up your analytics so it looks at more than just Google+. You’ll need to give him or her this link.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

118 comments
T60Productions
T60Productions

Thank you for the Reader and Alerts alternatives!  Now... how about a good replacement for iGoogle? :-)

--Tony Gnau

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

Needed this, thanks. I don't use Reader so much anymore (RSS feeds go into other apps) but Feedburner and Alerts are 2 products I'll miss.  Will check out Talk Walker, TrendSpottr and stay on the lookout for any other good Alerts alternatives. Now to check out what's new w/ the trackbacks. 

T_Burrows
T_Burrows

Read this piece on Monday and put it to work right away. I am loving Feedly and Talk Walker. Thanks Gini. Awesome as always.

markzohar
markzohar

Another Alerts product you may want to check out is TrendSpottr Alerts (http://trendspottr.com/alerts.php). Similar to Google Alerts but sends alerts based on predictive social trending signals. Also includes real-time sentiment and analytics with all email notifications. 

Word Ninja
Word Ninja

Gini, this post makes me think of the amazing asparagus strata I baked for Easter...full of ingredients that are wonderful on their own, but when you put them all together, casserole perfection. 

AdrienneSmith
AdrienneSmith

Hey Gini,

Thanks for this post and I wasn't aware that Alerts was also on it's way out.  To be honest with you, I'm not surprised at all.  I wonder what the heck Google is really thinking.  

I'm been searching for alternatives and am aware of the ones you mentioned for RSS and Reader.  Now that I know Alerts is on the way out I appreciate this share for their replacement.  

I'm really excited about the Universal Analytics and the trackbacks.  I got so many junk ones from my blog that I think this hopefully will be a better fit.  I guess we'll see.

Really appreciate this information, thank you so much for giving us the scoop.  Okay, off to check all of this out.

~Adrienne

J_Hong3
J_Hong3

Hi Gini! Thanks for the article! Loving your support. The Talkwalker team is happy to read all positive reviews about our solution. May you all have a fab day!

Andrea T.H.W.
Andrea T.H.W.

The shortsighteness of Google is always amazing. They transformed themselves from a good service into a money-making-machine-at-all-costs and into the internet ruler detailing what is right and what is not. Sometimes changing their mind from month to month.


And beside the initial disappointment this is great because this way users are forced to find alternative services which many times are better than the ones from Google. They show their incompetence, so to say. And the more they try to own the net and traffic the more people will find other ways to get traffic which on the long road will put Google as a minor player, even with Google's Glass. :)


A perfect example of the rule that we all create our own destiny. Imho. :)

rebeccacaroe
rebeccacaroe

Interesting that the Google alerts website still has the 2012 copyright statement on the bottom of the page.  I'm sure this is a co-incidence - but it does show that nobody at Google is 'listening' or managing that service actively or they'd have noticed it!

Bruno Pierre Gebarski
Bruno Pierre Gebarski

Gini! Thx for your article and your review of alternative! I love Feedly but hope they will come up with more add ons to personalize the reading experience! The tip for Google Alert replacement is great: I will try it right away! Greetings to you from this side of the pond and a wonderful rest of the week to you and your team! Later! BPG! 

bdorman264
bdorman264

I just knew this social stuff was going to crash and burn; and what a shame after I put all this time and effort into it....

Good info, some I will definitely have to incorporate or go home.

Cubs win; wasn't pretty, but according to my son, Cubs win.  

MSchechter
MSchechter

You're not worried about going from one free Reader to another? I haven't settled on a replacement yet, but find myself leaning towards Feedbin at the moment. $2 a month, so there's motivation to sustain, they also are working with Reeder to build integration in, which is promising. 

PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight

Technology is only as good as its ability to make my life a little easier.  If it does I am pretty loyal.

KateFinley
KateFinley

Ugh. I freaked out about this for a minute. I didn't care about the RSS feed honestly because I had been using Feedly. However, I do use Google Alerts for everything so THAT freaks me out. Setting alerts for Talk Walker seems like a solid option and I'll look into that later today.

 

Do you have a recommendation for an alerting system that incorporates tweets and social mentions? Curious ...

RobertGlaesener
RobertGlaesener

thanks Gini or mentioning our Talkwalker service . Great to hear you love it.

MrTonyDowling
MrTonyDowling

Thanks for the feedly tip! It's completely brilliant on an iPad :)

BoundlessJen
BoundlessJen

Talk Walker: not only a solution to a problem, but a better one!! Thanks Gini! I appreciate all the info you share to your community!

ljcrest
ljcrest

Thank you so much for this, Gini! It was spinning my little pointed head trying to track all of these changes. I was aware of Talk Walker and Feedly, but your links to resources are killer! You've saved me a whole lot of time and grief :) Kudos!

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

Google Alerts seems to be less and less useful -- that is, it misses so much. I wonder if this is intentional?  Anyway, thanks for all the good stuff here Gini. 

bobWP
bobWP

Hey Gini, thanks for the info on Talk Walker, I never was that impressed with the results of Google Alert.. will have to give it a try.

 

And yes, already moved to Feedblitz sometime ago and as far as Google Reader, I had switched sometime ago to the Mac app Reeder, which I love the UI. When I heard Reader was going away, I was a bit freaked, as Reeder pulls in from Google Reader. So I had intentions of moving to Feedly as I had head so many good things about it. But alas, Reeder gave me comfort that they would continue to work even after Reader is gone. Whew!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@MSchechter I'm not because it was so easy to switch and because I didn't lose anything in the process. If they want to make a prettier reader in five years, I'm cool with that.

Latest blog post: The Chick-fil-A PR Crisis

rebeccacaroe
rebeccacaroe

@ginidietrich @rebeccacaroe Clearly the 'always in beta' was taken too seriously.  Do you know when they launched this part of their service?

I am running a direct side-by-side test against Google Alerts and will let you know my findings next week.

bdorman264
bdorman264

@ginidietrich Hey, where did all my points go? I was only 27 short of a new car; what did you change up Ms Moderator....

Bruno Pierre Gebarski
Bruno Pierre Gebarski

Gini: What do you recommend for creating RSS Feeds from Twitter lists? Any advise? PLEASE ? 


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