The death of Google Reader is a very sad news for anyone who is using RSS feeds, but on the other side it’s a chance to find new ways to curate the flood of news. For some analysts RSS became an out-dated tool. This is said to be one of Google’s major reasons to shut down the Reader. In fact, the pain with RSS is that the discovery ends at the very moment of adding a feed to RSS reading app. It’s not only Real Simple Syndication, but also Real Static Syndication.
Looking for content dynamically, the ability to extend search beyond the subscribed blogs, should be a part of the next generation news curating tool.
Feedly is a top replacement for Google Reader. It’s my service of choice for several months, mainly because it does more than other RSS feed apps. Surely, it delivers content only via valid RSS feeds, but the way it syndicates it makes it a very useful discovery tool.
Actually, the moment of adding content to Feedly is already the beginning of content discovery.
1. Just like before, simply click on RSS feed
In the past, if you wanted to subscribe to RSS feed, you simply clicked on a feed icon or link. In case of feeds powered by Feedburner – and a lot of such feeds are out there – a special page opens with a list of services to choose from.
Now, here is the trick: if you have Feedly browser extension enabled, you will be automatically redirected to a Feedly subscription page. Simple as that. No need to add RSS feed to Google Reader to make it appear on Feedly, not any more. Then, the only thing is to click on a green Add button next to feed’s name.
Now something that very well proves Feedly is much more than just an RSS reader. When adding a new feed you’ll be given a list of similar services. Just check out You might also like widget on the right. Click on each name and in no time you’ll be given a list of recent posts. As you see, you can treat Feedly as a very effective way to find and compare similar blogs.
2. Copy and paste the RSS feed link
I’ve checked the above method in Chrome browser on Mac – not sure how that works in other browsers and operating systems. If it doesn’t, or if you don’t have Feedly extension installed, the automatic redirection won’t work. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to add the feed manually. When being on a page you’d like to add, find the feed icon and copy RSS feed link address.
Then, go to Feedly webpage and paste the link. You can do it in two ways:
1. by clicking on Add Content line in the left panel or
2. by clicking on a search icon in the top right corner
In both cases a discovery panel will slide from right. Paste the link in a search box and you should be able to see the site below, together with related topics and associated tags.
Again, it’s not the end of discovery. It’s the beginning. By clicking on a topic on top of a search results list, you’ll be presented with other popular results in this area of interest. Under the name of each site you’ll see tags associated with it, to let you quickly learn about its profile.
3. Add a website via Feedly mini toolbar
Let’s come back to Feedly browser extension. It has a very useful little feature called mini toolbar. When you enable it (Prefs ⇢ Mini Toolbar ⇢ On), you’ll see a small icon sitting in the bottom right corner of a window. Its main purpose is to give you a quick way to share stuff, but you can also add blogs to Feedly this way.
It’s helpful every time you can’t easily find the RSS button/link. Just click on the mini toolbar and you’ll see if there is an RSS available at all. If yes, you’ll see the top icon with a Feedly logo as on a screenshot below. You won’t see this icon if there is no way to get a valid feed from a current page.
You’ve probably noticed a huge difference between the number of subscribers in this and earlier method. It’s because when you add a content via Feedly, the service finds the valid feed itself. So, there were only 25 people who were using Lifehacker’s Feedburner feed address to add it directly to Feedly.
The mini toolbar is also a good way to check how popular is the site you’re going to subscribe. But please keep in mind that if the blog is heavily relying on Feedburner, you won’t see the relevant number of subscribers in the Feedly mini toolbar.
4. Use the Feedly discovery panel
The panel is a great way to discover new content, but lets start from a simple goal of adding a specific blog. Write down its name in a search box and you should be able to find the blog in the search results.
That’s it when it comes to adding the site you know about.
But you should not stop there. Feedly does more. As I wrote already, the discovery panel displays not only the service you are looking for but also similar ones. In one list you see the blogs with a similar profile, together with a number of subscribers. You can quickly scan their content and pick up the best services – not only the one that you originally wanted to add to Feedly.
What’s more, there is no need to look for a specific blog’s name. Type in the area the topic you are interested in. Sure, Google Reader does the same, but it lists only feeds. Feedly tracks also topics on Google News and YouTube. Simply scroll down the search results until you see Tracking Tools section.
What’s very useful, you can find recent news about a specific topic, read them in a preview mode, share on social media – and there is no need to add them to Feedly at all.
Last thing. Let yourself start from basics. Open the discovery panel and find a general topic from displayed stacks. Then correct search by selecting topics. Since I started to use Feedly, I enjoy very much this way of searching for new interesting sites. It’s simple, quick, and you don’t get stuck with too many results.