This document roughly examines some aspects on how well Google's services, Google Personalized Homepage (GPH) and Google Reader (GR), handle feeds by testing Google's services with a small amount of different feeds from various web pages. But first it gives some instructions on how to add feeds to Google. Your results may differ for example because of a different computer system, internet connection and location. This document tests for example blogs, news resources, and some languages. Even though some feeds are meant for certain feed service users, such as Bloglines or NewsGator, feed service feeds have also been tested for curiosity to find out how well Google handles all kinds of situations in case there will be interesting surprises to report about.
Adding feeds should be easy with Google Personalized Homepage and Google Reader: you can submit the URL (web address) of the web page itself and let Google try to find out the correct feed for the page or you can search for the title of the page or you can try to find links for the feed from the web page and submit them to Google's services. Link for a feed could be just a text link having text such as "Site Feed" or it could be an image link as shown below:
Notice that not all feeds are meant for every service. For example Atom, RDF, RSS 0.90 (based on RDF), RSS 1.0, and RSS 2.0 feeds should work in Google. But some web pages also offer feed links that are only meant to certain feed service users (for example Bloglines, NewsGator, Pluck, or Yahoo!) and those pictures probably have a plus sign "+" in front of the service name:
You may also try to copy and paste URLs from those feed service image links, but probably you just see an error message telling something like Google couldn't find the feed or there was a server error.
Let's use the Official Google Blog (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/) as an example on how to add a feed to Google. If you are using Google Personalized Homepage, sign in, click the "Add more to this page" link at the top left hand corner of the page, click the "Add by URL" link next to the "Search Homepage Content" button and type or paste the URL for the web page (in this case http://googleblog.blogspot.com/), and of course press the "Add" button (or press the Enter key in keyboard). Or on the Google Personalized Homepage click the "Add more to this page" link and search for the title of the page (Official Google Blog) and in the search results click the "Add it now" button next to the correct result, which should have the words "Official Google Blog" in bold text and "googleblog.blogspot.com" in green text. Or copy the feed URL from the page: right-click the "Site Feed" link on the Official Google Blog page, and select the "Copy Shortcut" option (or similar), go back to your Google Personalized Homepage, click the "Add more to this page" link at the top left hand corner of the page, click the "Add by URL" link next to the "Search Homepage Content" button, paste the feed URL (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/atom.xml), and press the "Add" button. By the way, you can also add gadgets (also known as modules): on the Google Personalized Homepage click the "Add more to this page" link at the top left hand corner of the page, click one of the category links below text "Add stuff to your homepage", and select one of the gadgets.
If you are using Google Reader, the procedure is quite the same. Sign in, click the "Add subscription" link, type or paste the URL of the web page (for the Official Google Blog mentioned above that is http://googleblog.blogspot.com/) or type or paste the feed URL (which is http://googleblog.blogspot.com/atom.xml in this case) or search for the words in the title of the page (Official Google Blog). Because sometimes some feeds are not available for technical reasons, you might want to try to add the feed next day.
To make the below tables less chaotic and more appealing to the eye, the following acronyms and markings have been used: * DOC: depends on circumstances (can't be generalized) * Fn: feed number n (F1, F2, etc.), feeds that are not offered by a feed service are numbered * FSU: for feed service users (of the feed service, not meant for every service) * IF: incorrect feed (the feed isn't the feed for the web page intended) * IRF: incorrect random feed (the feed is different on different days obviously from random users) * NO: feed can not be added * OK: feed can be added * RFSU: redirected, for feed service users (if you try to go to the link with a web browser, you get redirected to the feed service page) * ROK: redirected, feed can be added (if you try to go to the link with a web browser, you get redirected to the feed service page) * SFNO: select the feed from the page and submit to Google -- feed can not be added * SFOK: select the feed from the page and submit to Google -- feed can be added * URL: Uniform Resource Locator (web address)
Google does understand different feed formats (or feed types): Atom, RDF, and RSS. XML is not listed on the below table, because it is not a feed format, it is a markup language used for example by RSS. XML is mentioned on some image feed links, which can cause confusion so that some people might think XML is also a feed format.
You might want to know is there a general answer for the question what kind of feeds you can add and can not add to Google and the answer is it depends on the circumstances: for example it depends on the feed itself as how valid the feed is, does Google understand the feed, does the feed work at the time you are trying to add it (for example the server offering the feed might be down temporarily or have some other problems), and does Google itself have problems at that moment.
Below table shows the web pages that have been tested for this document (January 2nd, 2006). Some of the feeds for web pages have been listed with results telling information such as can the feed be added, is the feed correct or does it belong to a wrong web page, etc. All the feeds have been tried to be added to GPH and GR as you can see from the third row of the table. Many of the feeds have been tested on different days because sometimes a feed might be unavailable because of possible server down times or possible problems Google might have had. For example if you go to John Battelle's Searchblog, you can copy the page's URL http://battellemedia.com/ to Google's service, so the result is "OK" under "URL" for "GPH" and "GR" on the below "Test pages" table. You can also copy http://battellemedia.com/index.xml from the "XML" image link on the left side of the page and submit it to Google, so the result is also "OK" under "F1." But if you want to experiment with Google further, click the "XML" image link and you will get to http://feeds.feedburner.com/JohnBattellesSearchblog and on that page you should be able to select from six image links: "Add to Google," "Bloglines," "My Yahoo!," "NewsGator," "Pluck," and "Rojo." If you select "Add to Google," on the resulting page you should be able to add the feed simply by clicking "Add to Google homepage" button for GPH and "Add to Google Reader" for GR. But you can't add any other feed, because they are meant for other feed services. For example the result is "IF" for "Bloglines" feed, because Google adds an incorrect feed ("The Latest News And Updates From Bloglines"). Or if you try to add the "NewsGator" feed, nothing will be added, so the result is "FSU" on the table.
1 Not a valid feed according to http://validator.w3.org/feed/
2 Not a valid feed according to http://feedvalidator.org/
3 Not a valid feed according to http://rss.scripting.com/
a Valid feed, but may cause problems according to http://validator.w3.org/feed/
b Valid feed, but may cause problems according to http://feedvalidator.org/
c Valid feed, but may cause problems according to http://rss.scripting.com/
Feeds need to be valid to get more probably added to feed services or to Google. Below are links to four feed validators: http://validator.w3.org/feed/ http://feedvalidator.org/ http://rss.scripting.com/ http://www.w3.org/RDF/Validator/ Article about valid feeds and Google Reader: http://googlereader.blogspot.com/2005/12/xml-errors-in-feeds.html
Last modified: October 14th, 2006
Author: Tomi Häsä (email@example.com)