Google Alerts & Google Reader: Two Convenient Ways To Track The Online Conversation In Your Industry

Clive Lobo

Christopher KataStaying on top of what’s new and happening in your industry can easily be done on the Internet. A popular radio station here in Toronto called 680 News has this tag line:

“If you’re reading it, it’s history. If hearing it now, it’s news.”

The same can be said about magazines and the internet. Most people stay in touch with their industry by subscribing to topical magazines or newsletters. However, by the time the latest edition reaches you the information is weeks or even months old. We suggest you leverage the internet to get information that’s happening right now. Blogs, press releases, online news feeds etc, are a fabulous online source of information that is being published as it happens – not days later.

Because we track the conversations online for many of our customers we’ve figured out some really simple ways to  make this as efficient as possible, and we’re going to share them with you here. There are two basic ways we do it without spending money on expensive software.

Google Alerts

The first way to do this is to create Google Alerts for popular keywords in your industry. In the alert you can choose the frequency which dictates how often you receive the alert. Now you’ll be getting and email with links to information related to your keyword as it happens on the internet according to Google. Not bad – you just wait for the email to arrive, read the content and then do with it as you see fit. For example, post it on your blog, add it to your newsletter, etc.

Google Reader

Google Reader is a web based application that lets you add “RSS feeds” from your favorite news site, blogs, etc. and group them into categories. Now in one location you read the information being made available from multiple sources online – you no longer have to visit each of these plages to get the information. More importantly you can mark which information you’ve read and have not read thereby making it easy to keep track of what your reading.

Recently, Google Reader added a search feature. With the search feature you can now search your own set of feeds for keywords allowing you to find specific topics of interest to you with the greatest of ease.

Google Reader has the added benefit of allowing you to save your “feeds” by backing them up to what is called an “OPML” file. That way you never have to worry about losing the dozens or hundreds of feeds you collect over the months and years.

Bonus Tip for Google Reader

Technorati and BlogLines are two very popular Blog indexing sites. Both of these sites allow you to search the content of all of their blogs being indexed. You can then save the search as an “RSS Feed” which you can then post into your Google Reader. This allows you to instantly search across many blogs and obtain the results in a convenient RSS Feed in your Google Reader!

Both of these methods offer a tremendous ability to stay in touch with whats happening in your specific industry without wasting too much time travelling from website to website. We highly recommend you try it out for yourself – and see how “current” you can be in your industry!

Clive Lobo

Spark’s resident boss man, Clive possesses the very nature of an entrepreneurial spirit.

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