Google Feeds Examination And Test Results



Introduction

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 To Google's Services

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:
     Atom
RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0 XML Feed feed
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:
     AOL Bloglines NewsGator
     Feedster ENewsBlog Pluck

Google MSN Yahoo!
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.

Google Personalized Homepage

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.

 Adding content to Google Personalized Homepage
Adding content to Google Personalized Homepage.

Google Reader

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.

  Adding content to Google Reader
Adding content to Google Reader.

Test Results


Acronyms and markings

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)

Feed formats and services

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.
Feed formats
GPH GR
Atom  DOC DOC
RDF  DOC DOC
RSS 0.9x 
DOC DOC
RSS 1.0 
DOC
DOC
RSS 2.0 
DOC
DOC
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.

Test pages

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.
Test pages Important tests
Less important tests

URL
F1
F2
AOLF
BL
ENB
FB
FS
GBS
GFF
MSNF
NG
PL
RJ
YF

GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR GPH GR
AOL Beta Central 
OK
OK OK
OK

FSU
FSU





















Apple
OK
OK NOab
OK
OK
OK
























Customizetalk.com OK OK NO23 OK

























Google actu (French)  OK OK OK OK







FSU OK



SFNO SFNO









Google-SMS (GGF) OK OK OK OK OK OK























Google Blogoscoped OK OK OK OK

























Google Press Releases  OK OK













OK OK











InsideGoogle OK OK OK OK

























John Battelle's Searchblog  OK OK OK OK



IF IF











FSU FSU FSU FSU FSU FSU FSU FSU
Linux Today
NO
OK
OK
OK


























Matt Cutts OK OK OK OK NO2 NO2























Mozilla OK OK OK OK NOab OK























MSN Search's WebLog  NO OK NOab OK OK OK























Official Google Blog
OK
OK OK
OK

























Opera Web Browser
OK
OK NO
OK


























ResearchBuzz OK OK OK OK























FSU FSU
Search Engine Journal  OK OK OK OK



IF IF

OK OK







FSU FSU



FSU FSU
Search Engine Roundtable OK OK OK OK OK OK

IF IF

















FSU FSU
SEM Pro OK OK NO OK



IF IF IRF IF

FSU FSU



FSU FSU FSU FSU FSU FSU

FSU FSU
SEO Book OK OK OK OK



IF IF







SFOK SFOK FSU FSU FSU FSU



FSU FSU
telegraph.co.uk
OK
OK OK
OK OK
OK























The Unofficial Google Weblog  OK OK NO OK OK OK















ROK ROK



RFSU RFSU
Threadwatch.org
OK
OK OK
OK



IF IF

















FSU
FSU
Tietokone (Finnish)  OK OK OK OK

























Toronto Star 
OK
OK OK
OK NO123
OK
























Yahoo! Search blog  OK OK OK OK

























yahooclubs (YGF) OK OK OK OK























FSU FSU

 
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/


Feed validators

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 (tomi.hasa@gmail.com)

URL: http://sites.google.com/site/tomihasa/feeds