Social Sharing vs RSS Usage

Google recently announced on their office blog that they would be doing a “second spring cleaning” and shutting down Google Reader, one of the worlds most popular RSS reader tools on the web.

Most Google Reader users were unhappy and upset at Google’s decision to shutdown the tool with just 4 months notice. Of course there’s been a lot of great resources that provide alternatives, “State of RSS Readers” from SuperFeedr lists many alternatives and Digg Announced they are building their own.

Is RSS dead? Are we going back to the walled gardens of old with new social sharing platforms? Short answer… yes ­čÖü

Quick Facts!

  • RSS meta tags on websites have started to decline in the top 10,000 sites on the web as of October 2012
  • RSS usage in the top million sites has hovered around 18% consistently for 3 years
  • Facebook’s Open Graph protocol meta tags overtook RSS tag usage on the top 10,000 sites on 31st August 2012.

So what about the state of RSS in 2013?

RSS was well received and adopted by the internet community in the early 2000s, it was one of the first structure data formats that had mass acceptance on the web and was just what the web needed in terms of providing a central interface for users who followed many news and blog sources as they could now subscribe to these RSS feeds in a feed reader, see things they hadn’t read and access them in a new easy to use interface.

BuiltWith currently tracks around 10 million sites that have RSS integration on their homepage, not bad considering we know of around 136 million resolvable websites in total, some of which are parked/non-responsive.

RSS Usage Top 10k Websites over Time rssTop10k

In October 2012 the amount of sites in the top 10k advertising an RSS feed in their page meta tags started to fall as shown in the chart above, more time might be needed to see if this is a constant drop or temporary. The shutdown of Google Reader might add more fuel to the fire in terms of decisions to remove RSS from a website altogether.

Open Graph Protocol was designed by Facebook to make sharing easier. If you entered a website URL into Facebook to share, the title, description and image, at a basic level, can format the way the website owner wants the data to appear.

RSS vs. Open Graph Protocol Usage rssVsOGP

OGP meta tags overtook RSS meta tags at the start of September 2012 and are continuing to increase in usage, is this the signal that social news is the new RSS? We hope not but the data is starting to allude to that.

You can follow the trends in web technology usage on BuiltWith Trends. Discuss this on Hacker News.

Gary

Gary is co-founder of BuiltWith and uses a profile picture from 2006.