What Is RSS? A Step-by-Step Guide to Google Reader

April 28, 2008 at 4:41 pm 77 comments

(Abraham here. Thanks to Molly for letting me invade her blog. I hope this article will be helpful enough to earn me my keep.)

If you read even one blog regularly, RSS is for you. It will save you time, I promise.

Some of you may be wondering, “Doesn’t everyone use RSS?” The answer is no; less than 6% of internet users take advantage of this extraordinarily helpful technology.

I’ve read lots of posts on what RSS is and how to use it, but they’re limited in their helpfulness. There are just too many options out there to fully explain any one of them in a post that tackles RSS as a whole. So I am going to use the majority of this article to help non-RSS-users get started on Google Reader.

If you follow these instructions, you will be subscribed to your favorite sites and already saving time by the end of this article.

What Is RSS and Why Is It Worthwhile?

The acronym RSS stands for a couple things. The most helpful as far as a clear explanation of what it’s for is “Real Simple Syndication.”

RSS is a technology that allows you to subscribe to any website that has one of these in the address bar. You can then track every site you’re subscribed to without having to go to each individual site.

If you’re like me there are a couple websites that you love to read. Without RSS, I would be looking at these sites regularly to see if there were new material. Depending on how often I checked, I wouldn’t see anything new most times I visited.

With RSS, I never again have to go to a site that has no new material. I subscribe to the sites I enjoy and am updated every time they post.

This is especially helpful for keeping track of those bloggers who we want to read but who only post every 3 months.

Why I’m Focusing on Google Reader

If you’re not a current RSS-user and would like to be, my hope is that by the end of this article you’d have everything you need to begin. In order to do that, I need to pick one feedreader to show you how to use. (“Feedreaders” are the programs that people use to collect and manage their RSS subscriptions.)

I’ve chosen to use Google Reader for 3 reasons:

  • It’s free and available to everyone no matter what computer or browser you use.
  • It is by far the most popular feedreader that’s out there right now. On both the blogs I write for, Google subscribers are between 35-40% of the readership. The next most popular feedreader only claims about 5% of readers.
  • It’s really easy to use, so let’s get started.

Setting Up Google Reader

1. Create a Google account.
2. Go to Google Reader and make sure you’re signed in.

Adding a Subscription in Google Reader

1. Select “Add Subscription” from the left column.
2. Type in the address of a blog you want to subscribe to and click “Add.”

Adding a Subscription from Elsewhere Online

1. When you are visiting a site that you want to subscribe to, click on the orange icon in the address bar or on a link provide on the site.

You will either see a page like this:

Or like this:

2. On either page, select Google as the reader you want to subscribe with.
3. On the first page, you will need to click “Subscribe Now.”
4. On either page, choose “Add to Google Reader.”

Reading and Managing your Subscriptions

Reading Options

You now have a few of your favorite blogs listed in the left column of your Google reader page. The best way to go through your feeds is up to you. Here are some options.

  • Home, at the top of the left column, is where you can see new, unread posts listed with just a few lines of content.
  • All Items, just below “Home,” is where you can see new, unread posts listed with all their content.
  • Selecting an individual feed from the list in the left column allows you to see new posts as well as scroll down through older ones.

Scanning Options

In the upper right corner you will see tabs for “Expanded view” and “List view.” These allow you to decide whether you see all content as you scroll through your feeds or just titles and the first few words.

Marking as Read

You will mark a post as read when you click on it. Scrolling through posts will also mark them as read, although you can turn this feature off in settings if you want to. Finally, if you want to mark all your new posts as read at once, you can do so at the top of the “All Items” page.

Unsubscribing

When you change your mind about being subscribed to a blog, you can unsubscribe by going to the settings in the upper right corner.

You’re All Set!

As you poke around in Google Reader, I’m sure you’ll find more nifty ways to improve your RSSing. But for now, you should have what you need to go on a wild subscription binge.

You will, of course, want to subscribe to Molly’s blog and and to the blog of whoever referred you here. And then maybe even to mine. 🙂

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments. Happy blog reading!

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Entry filed under: Blogging.

Avoid the Flippant Comfort of Hallmark Answers Derailed=My Wednesday

77 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sarah  |  April 28, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    I am an avid google feed reader, but how do I get that little orange square to appear in my blog so that people can subscribe to mine?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  • 2. Heidi  |  April 28, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Great idea to post about the RSS feeds! I’ve been using this for about 6 months and I don’t know how I did without it. Saves so much time!

    Reply
  • 3. Leslie  |  April 28, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Wow, very helpful RSS post. And, I agree, GoogleReader is the way to go!

    Reply
  • 4. jennapants  |  April 28, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    I will be the FIRST to report that I JUST DID THE GOOGLE READER RSS FEED READER THINGY FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!! THANK YOU, ABRAHAM! (I feel like that WIll Ferrell character that can’t control the volume of his voice!)

    I will still probably check Molly’s blog a little more frequently because I love reading the comments that all these amazing women write.

    Reply
  • 5. puremotif  |  April 28, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I used to have bloglines but eventually switched to google reader on the advice of Jason Rhodes. I really really like it!

    Be careful, it can become addictive. Before you know it, you won’t check your reader for 2 days and you’ll be 500 posts behind!!

    Reply
  • 6. Dave  |  April 28, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    My issue is that it doesn’t seem to save any time…and I enjoy leaving comments. Call me old fashioned, but I just don’t think that RSS is the way to go for me. But nice job on the article, Aber!

    Reply
  • 7. Kelly @ Love Well  |  April 28, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Great summary, Abraham.

    (And hi, Molly! I’ve been reading your blog for about a month now, and I can’t remember if I’ve commented yet. So a shout out to you, too. I’m here for the long haul, obviously.)

    Two questions:
    1. I use Bloglines as my blog feedreader. How does Google Reader compare?
    2. I haven’t put a RSS feed button on my blog because, with Bloglines, I can subscribe to any blog whether they have that button or not by using the Bloglines toolbar. So I thought it was somewhat superfluous. Is it not?

    Reply
  • 8. Victor P  |  April 29, 2008 at 12:57 am

    oh no…his a mac freak…don’t listen to them…

    (if not take window screeni’s :P)
    …hehe jk…

    Reply
  • 9. How To Use Google Reader « Todd’s Mindbloggler  |  April 29, 2008 at 4:23 am

    […] Read the whole thing here. […]

    Reply
  • […] What Is RSS? A Step-by-Step Guide to Google Reader 29 04 2008 I’m taking this straight from Abraham Piper who writes on his wife’s blog about what RSS is and how to subscribe to sites using Google Reader.  This is a very simplistic and yet thorough explanation.  If there’s at least one site you like to read, this is something that will save you time from the minute you start using it.  Read his full article here. […]

    Reply
  • 11. Abraham Piper  |  April 29, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Sarah,

    I’m not sure what the best way to advertise or link to your feed on a blogspot blog is. Does anyone else know?

    Kelly,

    1. I’d say if you’re already set up with a feedreader you like, don’t switch to Google.
    2. You’re right that people can subscribe without a subscribe button on your blog, but a lot of people don’t know that. So a button let’s them know they can subscribe and offers a friendly reminder/invitation to people that already know.

    In a strictly functional sense, it is irrelevant. Promotionally, it is invaluable.

    Reply
  • 12. chedspellman  |  April 29, 2008 at 7:22 am

    Does anyone else know?

    One easy way to do it with a Blogspot Account is through Feedburner.com. It is a free service that takes the feed from your blogspot account and burns it into one, streamlined feed.

    Then, you can copy and paste the the code for their RSS icon into a sidebar element with a message that will entice your readers to subscribe (e.g., click here for digitized syndication bliss).

    Also, if you do it this way, when someone clicks on the RSS Icon, feedburner allows him (or her) to subscribe with whatever feed reader that they currently use.

    Example: See the Rss icons in the Sidebar. See the Feedburner page these icons take you to.

    Of course, the amount of readers who will choose to pass on this option is directly proportional to how often your posts exceed 22 words. 🙂

    Hope this helps,

    Reply
  • 13. Stacey  |  April 29, 2008 at 8:07 am

    TMI……….this would require change and most of us don’t like change. Especially where the internet is concerned. I am old enough that we didn’t have internet when I was in school and barely had computers. This is mumbo jumbo speak this RSS.

    Reply
  • 14. What is RSS? « LemmonsAid  |  April 29, 2008 at 8:17 am

    […] about how to sign up to use this FREE reader, step-by-step instructions can be found by clicking H-E-R-E. Hopefully, one of the first RSS feeds you will want to add to your Google reader is LemmonsAid. […]

    Reply
  • […] [From What Is RSS? A Step-by-Step Guide to Google Reader « The Pipers] […]

    Reply
  • […] beginning of a collection of theologian trading cards, coming soon to online retailers (really!). RSS Reader for Complete Noobs Abraham Piper has a tutorial to guide you through getting setup with Google Reader (in case you’ve […]

    Reply
  • 17. diane  |  April 29, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Thanks Abraham! I didn’t know such a thing as google reader existed! I’m subscribed now! YAY!

    Reply
  • 18. Reading blogs quickly « I Commend Joy!  |  April 29, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    […] using something called RSS is the answer. Here is some good RSS reading advice with Google Reader here, or here with other options.  I love this practical and helpful […]

    Reply
  • 19. Practical Advice «  |  April 29, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    […] Piper (son of the Rev. John), explains. […]

    Reply
  • 20. Susan  |  April 29, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    So I’ve finally managed to set this up and this is the first blog added to my list of subscriptions.

    Reply
  • 21. Rachel  |  April 29, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Google Reader is the best! It is so much better than trying to visit each of your favorite sites individually.

    Thanks for the advice on setting up a subscribe button.

    Reply
  • 22. Julie B.  |  April 30, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Wow. Thanks for the helpful tutorial Abraham. I had no idea what RSS was, but I think I’m all set now. Can’t wait to see how it works for me.

    Reply
  • 23. Ken Arnold  |  May 1, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Beware the lure of the blog crawling habit.

    I went gung-ho Google Reader a year ago, but had to stop very soon because I was wasting too much time reading blogs, and things linked to blogs, and things linked to things that were linked to blogs, etc.

    About a week ago I got back on, since I was doing the same blog-crawling thing manually and just wasting even more time. I consciously avoided putting certain feeds on there that I’d know I’d waste time on, and put instead some Gospel-centered feeds, resolving to read those first.

    Technology… can be simultaneously very useful and very dangerous.

    Reply
  • 24. Molly  |  May 1, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Thanks, Abraham, this is very helpful!

    Another explanation of RSS that I’ve found very helpful is from a video called Common Craft — I thought I’d pass it along as a complementary explanation to your own: http://www.commoncraft.com/rss_plain_english

    Reply
  • 25. Kingdom Journalism » Be Aware, Be Very Aware!  |  May 1, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    […] UPDATE: Here’s a great post from Abraham Piper, the Web Editor at Desiring God Ministries, on RSS and how to use Google Reader! […]

    Reply
  • 26. Sandra Peoples  |  May 2, 2008 at 7:06 am

    Thanks for the help! I don’t know how to do a trackback, but I did put a link to this article from my blog, Here’s the quote- “I’ve had time to find new blogs since The Pipers taught me how to use Google Reader.”

    Reply
  • 27. End of Week Round up | Byrnesys Blabberings  |  May 2, 2008 at 10:03 am

    […] what you know now, what would you focus on?" I’ll be trying to listent with all ears.- Abraham Piper has written a brilliant introduction to RSS and the wonder of Google Reader, if you don’t know what those two things are, and you read plenty of blogs then you need to […]

    Reply
  • […] Here are some helpful instructions, courtesy of Abraham Piper via Molly Piper’s blog. […]

    Reply
  • 29. Terrance Tiessen  |  May 3, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Thank you very much, Abraham. I have been checking in on various blogs manually and getting a couple (like Desiring God) by email. I was aware of RSS feeds but didn’t attempt to learn how they worked. Your tutorial was just what I needed. I am now signed up for all the blogs I used to check and numerous news sites or magazines that have feeds. It has only been a couple of days since I set things up but I can already see that this is going to be a huge time saver.

    So, thanks for the help.

    Reply
  • 30. About RSS  |  May 5, 2008 at 2:54 am

    […] What Is RSS? A Step-by-Step Guide to Google Reader […]

    Reply
  • 31. JCP  |  May 5, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    THANK YOU! 2 days now – and it’s even better than you said it would be. I will also have to take note of comment #23 because there is so much going on out there!! How on earth do I internalize all the great stuff I’m learning??? Anyway, that’s not your problem, just wanted to say thanks for a very helpful tip.

    Reply
  • 32. Eden  |  May 5, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Like the others, I really appreciate the tutorial. Very helpful. At once, I set up Google Reader for the one blog I follow daily (multiple times, daily), Desiring God. Yes, it does keep me from going to the site multiple times a day, just in case something has been posted. But, ya know what? I miss the visuals of the DG blog! Torn between techno-efficiency and the “at home” feel of the blog site itself.

    Reply
  • 34. blog subcriptions, they’re all the rage «  |  May 9, 2008 at 10:44 am

    […] Abraham at The Pipers has written a tremendously helpful post that gives step-by-step instructions on how to set up subscriptions with Google Reader. So go, check it out, and set up your own feedreader–oh, and don’t forget to to subscribe to Badgers on the Loose. […]

    Reply
  • 35. How to Set Up An RSS Feed Reader | SEO Diva  |  May 16, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    […] Not one to duplicate something that’s already doing a fine job, I’m going to suggest you head over the Pipers blog  and Abraham’s great article What is RSS: A Step-by-Step Guide to Google Reader. […]

    Reply
  • 36. Links for the road at Between the Trees  |  June 6, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    […] if you’re a regular blog reader, you should read this article by Abraham Piper explaining what RSS is and how you can use it to streamline your blog reading. I […]

    Reply
  • 37. Jan Buchanan  |  June 16, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Abraham, before I read your post in the DG blog I had wanted to use RSS feeds but didn’t know how. Your encouragement and clear, walk-you-through-it directions were just what I needed. Now, 6 weeks down the road, I am so glad I did it. Makes keeping up with my favourite blogs a breeze, just like you said it would. Thank you!

    Reply
  • […] members who might not be familiar with concept of syndicated feeds, there is a nice, easy intro here, and a more in-depth article here. If this all seems too technical, and overly complicated, […]

    Reply
  • 39. iPhone adds Google Reader | Look to the Lord  |  July 11, 2008 at 9:33 am

    […] If you haven’t discovered Google reader yet, check out Abraham (and Molly) Piper’s Step-by-Step Guide to Google Reader […]

    Reply
  • 40. Julie Fee  |  July 19, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Hey, I know this is a suuuuuuuppppppper old entry of yours, but I finally have a minute to ask you a question. How do I get the RSS sign to be displayed on my page so people can add my blog to their list?
    Thanks…..saw you the other sunday ~ you look so good! Hope you are doing well and feeling well. j

    Reply
  • 41. Stephanie  |  July 23, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    I was wondering if people know that you have subscribed to their blog. I read a few blogs that are friends of friends, and I would feel a little weird if they knew I read their blog. Thanks for the great explanation!

    Reply
  • 42. Abraham Piper  |  July 23, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    If you subscribe by email, they can see your address. But if you subscribe by RSS, no one can tell. All they know is a total number of subscribers–not who they are.

    Reply
  • 43. Stephanie  |  July 23, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Thanks for the quick response! Can you subscribe by e-mail through the google reader?

    Reply
  • 44. superrelish  |  August 6, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I now have more time to subscribe to even more blogs!

    Reply
  • 45. charles  |  August 7, 2008 at 6:26 am

    That you very much for the information abraham since feedburner had offered me a great traffic from loyal readers that help me overcome my low traffic from search engines.

    Hope you do better
    ht tp:// ww w.resourcesandmoney.blogspot.com

    Reply
  • 46. karthik  |  September 15, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Hey
    I have been using google reader for few days now. But for some sites it does not show the full article. It shows only the first few lines / snippets. Is there anyway I can get full articles without having to click on the link to read the article?
    Thanks

    Reply
  • 47. Sherry  |  September 23, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    This was the best explanation I have read. Thank you. Those of us that are computer illiterate thank you so much.

    Reply
  • 48. How to Navigate a Blog « Goodbye Ordinary  |  November 22, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    […] be kept informed of posts and/or comments.  If you don’t know what RSS is or how to use it, here is an explanation for you.  A short explanation of RSS is that you can have a list of updates on […]

    Reply
  • […] some more help? Try this post or this […]

    Reply
  • 50. Lack of Posting at Between the Trees  |  December 25, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    […] If you want an easy way to keep up with the blog to know when our next post finally does appear, I’d recommend using something like Google Reader. Abraham Piper explains how it works here. […]

    Reply
  • […] Where can I get more info? Abraham Piper turned me on to Google Reader.  He explains it much better than me on The Piper blog. […]

    Reply
  • 52. Subscribers, win my favorite read of 2008! « The Pipers  |  January 10, 2009 at 10:58 am

    […] Subscribe by email or RSS. (If you don’t know what RSS is, my husband can show you. It’s really easy.) 2. Contact me to let me know you’re a subscriber. 3. I’ll […]

    Reply
  • 53. sachin  |  January 20, 2009 at 6:15 am

    This was the best explanation I have read. ike the others, I really appreciate the tutorial. Very helpful. At once, I set up Google Reader for the one blog
    http://buisenessinsurancemoneydabitcreadit.blogspot.com/

    Thank you.

    Reply
  • 54. spotlight: providential redux « Re:Wilsons  |  January 23, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    […] Lopez.  I have a feeling that, should she be successful, it will be well worth keeping her on your Google Reader or frequently checked […]

    Reply
  • 55. A Few Final Logistics « Project 2 Pillars  |  January 29, 2009 at 12:38 am

    […] This is a “blog” which means you can subscribe to it via RSS feed services like Google Reader. If you’re not familiar with blogs and RSS feeds, take a look at this post by Abraham Piper which will introduce you to Google Reader. […]

    Reply
  • 56. Alexwebmaster  |  March 3, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Hello webmaster
    I would like to share with you a link to your site
    write me here preonrelt@mail.ru

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  • 57. Vikas Gupta  |  May 10, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I have tried many other feed readers but was most comfortable with Google (though sometimes it is slow).

    Reply
  • […] subscription through a blog reader – click here (one minute video) and here (step-by-step instructions for setting up my favorite reader, Google Reader) for further […]

    Reply
  • […] some more help? Try this post or this […]

    Reply
  • 60. Mike  |  June 1, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Thanks for explaining what RSS is. I never really quite understood it, but it seems like by subscribing to certain feeds, you don’t have to continuously visit the site directly to keep up to date with new updates. Thanks for the tutorial.

    Reply
  • 61. subscribe! « words for WAFA: mind and heart  |  June 11, 2009 at 8:48 am

    […] a feed reader yet, I encourage you to do it today!  If you don’t know how to go about it, click here to read Abraham Piper’s step-by-step article on getting started with google […]

    Reply
  • 62. Organizing Your Way | Decluttering Your Feed Reader  |  June 13, 2009 at 6:32 am

    […] But seriously, how many blogs do you currently subscribe to by email or in your feed reader? For some of you, it may only be a handful – and if Organizing Your Way is among them, thank you for considering what I have to say worth your time! (For more about feed readers, Abraham Piper from 22words has a great post called “What is RSS?“) […]

    Reply
  • […] to Subscribe to CraveCommunity.com Posted on July 18, 2009 by Jono Smith Abraham Piper gives you the low-down on how to make sure you don’t miss any CraveCommunity […]

    Reply
  • […] If you’d like to know more, there is a clear and helpful step-by-step guide to Google Reader on the Pipers’ family blog. […]

    Reply
  • 65. These Are a Few of My Favorite Blogs  |  August 28, 2009 at 6:22 am

    […] read on a regular basis.  If you don’t know how to subscribe to blogs, there is a great article here about how to subscribe through an RSS […]

    Reply
  • 66. sandrar  |  September 10, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

    Reply
  • 67. Welcome to The Works of God « The Works of God  |  September 13, 2009 at 6:48 am

    […] We try to post almost daily, but I recommend using RSS or subscribing to have it sent to you via email (see button at right).  Abraham Piper provided a very helpful tutorial on RSS here. […]

    Reply
  • 68. Mike's Recording Studio  |  September 14, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Why would you need an RSS if you can simply bookmark your websites using a social bookmarker? Wouldn’t this be just as effective?

    Reply
  • 69. Free Bible Verse Song CD Giveaway « Responsible Father  |  October 5, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    […] you don’t know about this whole subscribing thing please see this helpful guide created by Abraham […]

    Reply
  • 70. lara croft and the temple of osiris download full  |  December 27, 2014 at 3:17 am

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  • 77. mp4 indir  |  October 15, 2017 at 5:51 am

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