A little known feature in Google, specifically within Google
Reader, is the ability to search for feeds.
If you are not using a feedreader or familiar with RSS
feeds, the easiest thing I can suggest is for you to simply type in *web feed*
in Wikipedia and you can learn all about it. But for now, to save you time – a
web feed is a data format that allows you to receive the information from that
blog or web page or podcasting site. You can receive this info without having
to go to a specific location each time; it is pulled to you by a feed reader
(like Google or one of a dozen others) also known as a news reader.
Ah, back to the focus of this post: Feeds are a great way to
keep up with the industry, with competitors, and in some cases, with your own search
terms (see Google Alerts post from earlier this year). Rather than have to visit
a site over and over again, one can simply subscribe and view all the content in
a list format (depending on your feedreader).
In Google Reader, I can search for feeds on specific topics or
by number of subscribers, which is a great indication of value although not always.
You can then arrange all your *subscriptions* to these pages or blogs or podcasts
in one place and see the content activity there, in a list format (quite often).
At a glance, you know what’s going on in your industry, in your niche.
There are also ways to customize or create feeds off of traditional
websites (non feeds), but this involves the use of web scraping tools, which has
come under some scrutiny and heat from publishers who have not received proper attribution
credit or monies. I’m still not sure where I stand on the issue. I see multiple
Bottom line, news readers or feed readers provide a powerful
tool for studying a subject after you’ve found and assembled the steady content
stream you want to fish in.