3 Ways To Use Google Reader Like a Pro

I'm a RSS Feed junkie. I read tons of feeds from various topics I'm interested in. For me, this is essential, as I like to keep up with the industry and things I'm into. And the easiest way to do it, is to subscribe to the feeds of the sites I like.

When I got into the habit of subscribing to every feed I found even remotely interesting or related to the things I do, I started forming habits to go through the items quickly as there is no time in the world to actually read over a hundred RSS feeds regularly.

If you're following a large number of RSS feeds like I am, you need a good way to organize them. That's where Google Reader comes in for me. With GReader's subscription management, folders, marking a post with a star and sharing the posts you like, you can have your own RSS processing powerhouse without spending unnecessary time jumping in and out of your favorite blogs.

I have not encountered better RSS reader than the Google Reader and I don't believe there is one. It is that good.

I can use it anywhere I have a web access and all my favorite blogs are right there for me to digest and enjoy. I don't have to visit every blog and bookmark I have, as I only have this one place I like. If I have something to add to blog post, then I can visit the blog and leave a comment.

All this saves a ton of time and enables me to follow a huge amount of feeds and still manage them in a timely manner.

I don't even have to leave Google Reader, if I want to

  • bookmark,
  • tweet or
  • otherwise share a post I like to my friends and social networks I use

And after reading this post, you'll know how to do that too.

1 Tag The Feeds To Multiple "Folders"

I have organized my RSS feeds into folders, based on importance and based on topics. As one feed can go into multiple "folders", it's easy to organize and re-organize feeds as you please. This is the number one reason why anyone following more than 1 RSS Feed (who isn't?), should use Google Reader.

If you are using Google Reader, you know what the "folders" are and you're probably using them as well. As with GMail, the folders are really just tags that are called folders because it's easier for a average user to understand it that way, as more and less all operating systems organize data into folders.

Anyway, I have 5-10 feeds tagged with "ALWAYS". I use that because it stands on top of the subscription tag-list and I can immediately see if there's something important for me to check when I open the reader. The feeds I tag like this are the feeds that I always want to read, e.g. my favorite blogs and the most important news.

Otherwise I have number of tags based on the topics and niches I follow, like "blogging", "Internet marketing", "Web design", and such - each topic having anything between 1 to 100 feeds in it. For the majority of the feeds, I browse through the headers and "star" the posts I want to read. I do this very quickly, so if the title does not sound interesting, I just skip it.

If you're not familiar with "starring" the post on Google Reader, it's marking a post with a star by clicking on the blank star at the front of the post title. And the starred posts will then be visible in the "Starred Items" section.

To be able to go through the feeds and headers quickly, I have the List setting on (instead of Expanded), so it only shows the post headers. After starring the posts, I mark all posts as read for that topic and move on to the next. As a side note, only checking posts like this proves the point that you should have a capturing and interesting headline on your post :)

After I've gone through all the topics, starred the posts I like and marked others as unread, I move on to the Starred Items -section and begin reading. I go through as many posts as I can, depending on how much time I have. The cool part is that I can share, tweet and bookmark the items I like directly from Google Reader while I'm at it, and here's how you can do it.

2 Enable "Send To" Functionality

The Send To functionality was added to Google Reader only recently and as it is not "on" by default, many have not used or even know about it yet. Here's how you can start using it...

In the Google Reader,

  • Go to Settings (on the top right), and click on "Send To"
  • Here you can choose your favorite social bookmarking sites, e.g. Twitter, Delicious and Digg for example.
  • After you have enabled the sites you like on Send To, go back to your feeds and open a post you like to share.
  • At the bottom of the post you can see the Google Reader action items
  • Star, Like, Share, Share with Note, etc. You should see "Send To" there as well now.
  • Click on it, and now you can Tweet, bookmark and share that post right away.

On the downside, for example for Delicious, it sends the feedburner address / link in there, in case the feed in question comes from feedburner.

With Twitter, it doesn't matter that much as it'll be redirected to the right place, but when placing bookmarks, it would be nicer to get the bookmark to the actual URL.

So with Send To, you can bookmark and share the best posts with couple of clicks. If you want to make sharing even easier, here's the third tip for you.

3 Make The Most Out of Your Public Shared Feed

Did you know that when you click the "Share" button on the Google Reader, that post goes to your shared items and if you're sharing your items to the public, you have your own shared items feed?

Well you do, and it's like any other RSS Feed that you can subscribe to or use your public Shared Items RSS feed on sites like FriendFeed and Twitter (via TwitterFeed for example).

  • To check your Shared Items settings, click on the "Your Stuff" and "Shared Items".
  • Then click on the "sharing settings"
  • From the pull-down menu on the top, choose "Public (Anyone Can View"
  • (You can also share items privately with closed group of friends if you like)
  • Below, you can see "Your Shared Items Page"
    • Tweak the settings, choose a style and URL for your shared page
  • Now you have your own Shared Items RSS feed, like mine here: Zemalf's Shared Items.

As I mentioned, now if you like, you can share that RSS, for example:

  • Add a RSS Feed widget to your blog
  • Add Google Reader to your FriendFeed
  • Add the Shared Items feed to TwitterFeed and automatically tweet 1 of the shared items

I have done the last one of those, so one of my favorite / Shared Items goes through to Twitter via TwitterFeed every hour or so (if I have gone through my feeds in the GReader and shared the items).

Remember that you don't want to get too spammy with your feed and Twitter, so if you do the same and tap the Shared Items feed into TwitterFeed, make sure you adjust the settings to only send 1 tweet at the time to avoid too much spam to your Twitter followers.

I didn't add the Shared Items feed to my FriendFeed, as all the Tweets come through there and it would cause too much duplicates there.

Making the Most Out of the Google Reader

By tagging your feeds effectively, utilizing the "star" feature, using the "Send To" for your favorite sites and making the most out of your Shared Items RSS Feed, you'll be one giant RSS feed reading and sharing machine.

By using Google Reader effectively and using the kind of system I use, you can keep up with the latest news and information in your industry, learn while at it and also share the information with your friends and social networks very easily.

It not only saves you time, but keeping on top of what's going on in your industry, learning as you go and share that info with others as well will go a long way if you're building up your personal brand and establishing yourself as an authority.

If you found this post useful, why don't you subscribe to my RSS feed, and try sharing it via Send To or Shared Items in the Google Reader!

Further Reading

To kick your "Google Reading" to a whole new level (keyboard shortcuts, power-labeling, custom scripts and addons), you might want to read this post from Lifehacker as well:

For more of a tutorial to Google Reader, I suggest you check out the How To from Mashable:

Questions, Comments, Feedback?

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