Google is super concerned about how its users consume online content, almost as much as it is concerned about helping users find that content through its search engine.
Google Reader is Google’s convergence of search and consumption, as the application crawls the Web to find stories and deliver the content via RSS feeds its users have subscribed to.
But not all Web pages have feeds, so Google has altered Reader to let users create custom feeds to track updates on Web pages that lack feeds.
It’s a simple change, but one that closes the gap between readers and Website publishers looking to reach them.
Google also provides short snippets of page changes to help users decide if the page is worth revisiting.
Using its Google.org philanthropy arm as an example, Google said users can click on the “Add a subscription” field in Reader and type “http://www.google.org/products.html.”
Add the feed and you’ll see this:
Upon creating a custom feed for Google.org, Reader will visit the page every now and then and publish changes it finds, such as product updates.
This can be really useful for retail Websites that have goods they add or subtract, but no RSS feed. Here is a custom feed for Zillow:
After you add the URLs of Web pages for feeds you want Google to build, you’ll need to rename them because Reader renders them as just the URL in the subscriptions toolbar on the left.
Little changes to be sure, but each little change makes Reader more robust and keeps me using the app. Now if Google will only speed Reader up!
Read more about the Reader changes on TechMeme here.