Reader fans are hurting, and Google is making it clear that the RSS feed’s passing will be a slow and painful one. Yesterday, Google started removing Reader from its drop down services bar to break the habit early. It serves as a daily reminder to users that their beloved product will soon be no more. As far as finding replacements, Feedly acquired 500,000 ex-Google Reader users over the weekend and Digg announced that its developing a RSS service of its own to replace the dying tool. It was just days after this announcement that Google “accidentally” dropped Digg from all search results.

Reader users, who were already miffed at Google to begin with, grabbed their tin foil hats and started launching accusatory conspiracy theories about the seedy search engine. Surely Google was punishing Digg for wanting to create an alternative RSS feed! Clearly they’re making an example of them by deleting them from searches entirely.

SEO experts nodded sagely and pointed out that the Digg deletion had nothing to do with RSS feeds at all. The Atlantic Wire speculated that Google was punishing Digg for shady link-building, publishing duplicate content or posting too many bad links. Google has been making Panda and Penguin stricter, and de-indexing Digg would send a strong message to spammers.

In actuality,  both SEO professionals and Reader-lovers were wrong. This wasn’t a sinister plot to ruin the lives of content marketers, it was an accident. Google meant to take down just one spammer on Digg’s site, but hit the big “delete all” button instead.

Matt Cutts led the pack in damage control, asking the angry townspeople of the Internet to put down their torches and pitchforks and accept Google’s mea culpa.

We’re sorry about the inconvenience this morning to people trying to search for Digg. In the process of removing a spammy submitted link on, we inadvertently applied the webspam action to the whole site. We’re correcting this, and the fix should be deployed shortly.

By yesterday afternoon Digg was back up in searches, where it will stay, barring another Google snafu. No harm, no foul. If anything, this is a PR boost for Digg. The history books could gloss over the fact that this was a mistake and remember it as Google feeling so intimidated by Digg creating its own RSS feed that it blocked the site from searches entirely. Now that’s a tool that I’d want to check out.

How are you coping with the loss of Reader? Will you try Digg’s RSS feed?