How do you keep track of the wealth of information you actually want to find online? Going to each site on a regular basis is too time consuming, and a search engine can be dangerous as they open up so many worm tunnels that you can get lost in. So how can you keep up on a topic or with a website, without the distractions?
The tools we're looking at today will be helpful for researchers and writers, anyone searching for regular information on a particular topic or anyone wishing to monitor their brand and services online.
Many websites have an RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) This is an XML update from a website. By using an RSS feed receiver (aggregator) you can collect all these updates in once place, so you can see at a glance what is new.
There are a number of ways to monitor an RSS feed. My chosen tool is Feedly, a free RSS aggregator. (There is a paid version, which has more bells and whistles) it allows you to add the websites you want to monitor, and categorize them into topics or folders. I have a range of websites I follow, and use for my twitter feed. It is a great way of generating new ideas for your twitter feed.
In Feedly, at a glance, I can see the titles of the latest blogs and articles from the sites I follow, and then go to the site to read the full article. It saves a lot of searching and bookmarking. I can select the ones I want to read and retweet.
Feedly does the job for me, so I haven't gone searching for an alternative, but if you don't fancy feedly, this blog looks at other options.
If you do use Outlook for your email programme, you can also use it for your RSS feeds. It is relatively simple to set up, and delivers the latest updates into a folder in your Inbox. You can find instructions here.
Topic Monitoring - Web Alerts
What if it's not a website you want to monitor, but rather find out what is happening about a topic that interests you? Or perhaps you want to keep track of what is being said about your business and brand online. Then a Web Alert is the tool to use. A web alert allows you to find out what is newly posted on a topic of your choosing. I like to use Google Alerts, which will search for mentions of your keywords. It is easy to set up and use, and if you don't already have a Google Account, it's free to create one. If you don't fancy Google, then you can try one of these.
Equally, you may want to find out what everyone is talking about online. I like to use my twitter feeds for this, but if you want to explore other options, then read this blog.
Using these tools can save you a lot of time, and ensure that you keep up to date with the sites you want to follow, without too many distractions.