In January, Google updated their Feed Reader Module for the Google Personalized Homepage so that items could be expanded and contracted.  This makes it easy to reed the items without ever having to leave.  It was a move that showed that Google was listening to their users. Now it’s time to cater to the publishers of those feeds, and today, Google announced that they will start reporting subscriber count.

Publishers asked, and Google listened. In the official announcement, they note that this is something that they’ve wanted to do for a long time, but “with all the products that use feeds at Google, corralling the data in one place was like herding cats. So herd we did.”

What this means is that if you use FeedBurner, you’ll be able to see how many Google Reader and Google Personalized Homepage subscribers you have. According to FeedBurner who also made an announcement today regarding this, they will start reporting Google numbers on Saturday, February 17th.

If you’re not using FeedBurner, but you have access to server logs, you’ll be able to see how many subscribers you have from the HTTP header of requests from Google. This is an example Google gives of what you’re looking for:

User-Agent: Feedfetcher-Google; (+; 4 subscribers; feed-id=1794595805790851116)

 Google has put together a “Tips for Publishers” page that gives you some suggestions on implementing feeds, and other helpful tips. One thing that they did mention in this section is the debate over full-content feeds vs. the partial-content feeds. Their response to the debate is:

“While there are good reasons to choose either option, the user experience is better with full-content feeds, as the user no longer needs to click through to read an article. Be aware that some users choose not to subscribe to partial-content feeds because of the extra effort involved in reading them.”

So why is this good news? Well, if you’re a publisher, you’ll have a better idea of how many people are actually subscribed to your feed. If you use FeedBurner, keep your eye out for an increase in subscribers because it will probably be coming soon.