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Monday, November 28, 2005

Stay Informed With These Online Tools

Suffering from information overload? Struggling to keep your head about the water? I've written a collection of mini reviews on some online applications and tools which will help you keep tabs on your business, clients, and competition. These services take advantage of RSS technology and your favorite newsreader, to "feed" you information up to the minute, on any topic you can possibly want to monitor.

Monitor News

Google News - This service lets you set up a keyword search for whatever you want to keep tabs on, and even get the resulting news stream in RSS in your favorite news reader. Then, whenever there is new news on that topic, the news reader refreshes with it.

For comparative purposes, if news is what you want to monitor, you should also look at Yahoo News.

Monitor Blogs

- With so many people blogging, there is a chance that your company, industry or competitor is going to be getting some mention somewhere. Blog Pulse let's you set up a keyword or web site address search and save the results in a feed in your newsreader. Then, each time someone blogs on that keyword, you know. Blog Pulse also has some cool visualization features that graph how frequently your phrase or URL shows up. It's a great way to stay on top of trends!

Technorati - Similar in nature to Blog Pulse, Technorati also let's you create an account with customized "watch" lists and RSS feeds that give you real time tracking of your key phrases in the blogosphere. Technorati also lets you see what the current "hot" searches are, and search millions of blogs for the subjects that interest you.

BlogDigger is another option which looks mysteriously like Google with a very simple interface. This one comes with a toolbar to install in your browser.

Monitor Articles

Find Articles is a service which searches the traditional media channels like magazines and publications for keyword mentions. Then, as with the rest, you can creat an RSS feed, put it in your newsreader and see if you're being talked about in print, too! This site is also one of the best places to research, read and learn about your favorite topics.

NewsTrove is a searchable index of millions of news articles from 192,000 media sources, made available by RSS feed. What makes it really interesting is that you can filter the results you get by your political, religious and cultural leanings! And it searches both blogs and mainstream media.

You can use these tools for keeping track of what people are saying about your business or product, or what your competition is doing. You can also set up these tools to help you monitor whether your brand or trademark is being abused, and keep tabs on your publicity initiatives. ARE people talking about your business?

Obviously you won't want to use ALL of these. But, based on your individual needs, you can pick and choose one or two that will keep you current and "in the know."