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More on Google Reader Subscriber Numbers

Posted By Darren Rowse 16th of October 2007 RSS 0 Comments

Since Google Reader started showing how many people subscribe with its service to different RSS feeds there’s been a lot of talk and analysis about how many subscribers different blogs and sites have. However one element hasn’t been talked about that much – the fact that many blogs have multiple feeds and Google Reader doesn’t combine them all into one result to give you a true number.

Most of those analyzing the data don’t seem to be looking at multiple feeds.

For example – here at ProBlogger there are two main feeds that people have subscribed to – the original ProBlogger feed and the Feedburner one:

Picture 1-6

Andy picks up the ‘why’ and ‘how’ it could be useful to have these two figures in his post The Secret Statistics In Split RSS Feeds – Google Reader.

Matt Cutts points this out too and also reminds us that blog software like WordPress creates many feeds – including feeds for categories, comments etc.

Update: Pete Cashmore also makes a strong case for these sorts of numbers being compromised by ‘default feeds’ such as Google Readers ‘bundles’ which he says will inflate your figures by around 50,000 simply by being added to a bundle.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. “the fact that many blogs have multiple feeds and Google Reader doesn’t combine them all into one result to give you a true number.”

    – Seeing as Google purchase’s every new company that is within one of their many categories, this element will be added soon enough.

  2. Darren,

    You can eliminate this split feed subscribers by using a plug-in called ‘FeedSmith’.

    “The plugin will detect all ways to access your feed and redirect them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber”

    Here’s the link to the plug-in

  3. I’d still LOVE to know why it displays the same URL feed for my blog so many times though. I took this screenshot the other day, and although the numbers are finally a bit higher it still displays my feed many times:


  4. Domtan I actually use that plugin and it was mentioned in the article, you still get the splits because of the way feeds are handled.

    Jeremy – I would expect only the 2 feeds showing due to the trailing slash – your auto discovery has a slash, and your buttons do not

    Thanks for the link Darren – it is interesting seeing the difference with your stats because you didn’t have a button specifically for Google Reader for a long time, so people used auto-discovery or the Feedburner page.

  5. Hi Darren

    Yeah, that’s pretty weird. I actually searched for your blog through Google Reader, and yes, it said that you had a subscriber base of 8,401, yet, when I look at your feedburner readers, it says 33,044. I’m slightly new to blogging, so I’m not quite sure how these numbers are calculated, but in terms of social proof, any of these two numbers does it for me! I’m now subscribed!

    Cheers for your latest video about what to do about despondency and focusing on % improvements each month – very handy indeed!


    Gideon Shalwick
    Conversations With The World’s Top Internet Marketers

  6. Ah ok that explains that extra one, thanks Andy.

    I guess the other two are just tossed in there for the heck of it ;)

    My guess is maybe it is because I changed the blog’s slogan and G Reader had a bug and didn’t update it correctly.

  7. @Domtan: That’s bull and I’m calling it. Read my post on this today. Google Reader does NOT respect 301s. There is no other way to explain why my Atom feed, which if you view in a browser redirects with 301 to my FB feed as do all my feeds, has 55 subscribers. In fact the FB feed shows my blog with 7. That’s crap. It’s unreliable. It’s inaccurate and people take too much faith in respecting Google’s ability to determine fact from fiction.

  8. FeedSmith is good if someone actually visits the feed and it redirects them and then they copy the new URL, but who the heck does that?

  9. Darren,

    That is really fishy.

  10. Is there a true way to measure blog feed popularity.

    If so, what would you recommend as the most accurate?

  11. Does anyone else think it odd that this Google feed suscriber thread and related posts have attracted few comments compared with other posts of the same date on non-stats related matters?


  12. I need more readers before I can read how many I have without being depressed.

  13. Why is everyone freaking about this small ordeal? Just download FeedSmith. It’s not that difficult. Stop worrying about how many subscribers you have. Maybe you should redirect your attention to writing more efficient articles.

  14. Alex, even though you don’t use Feedburner, your feeds are jumbled as well.

    In the sidebar you have RSS
    Autodiscovery picks up your atom feed
    Subscription with a javascript bookmarklet finds your RSS feed

    The Feedsmith plugin doesn’t change this situation

    As to why people value various metrics and methods of tracking, if all you are doing is keeping a personal diary on a blog, or communicating with friends, I suppose it doesn’t matter if no one reads it.

    If your blog is business related, reach and how efficient you make your traffic funnel are key issues.

    As Problogger generally is about Problogger, it seems that blog analytics isn’t needless worrying, but essential business data.

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