Web & communication software

Automatically Track Your Company and Competitors with RSS

RSS feeds consolidate web surfing, pushing the new content directly to you instead of making you bounce between sites. That time saver can make better use of your breaks, even if you're just checking sports updates. But you can make RSS feeds into a business tool, tracking industry events, news, your company, and competitors. I like to use Google Alerts as the cornerstone of these feeds; when a search term hits, Google pushes me an update.

Visit google.com/alerts, and log in if needed with the link to Manage your alerts. Click New Alert, and enter a simple search term into the box. Type the name of your company or a competitor, the name of an upcoming tradeshow, or anything specific that would get coverage. Use the pull-down menu to choose if you want to limit searches to just news sources, blogs, or other targets, and change the Deliver to option to Feed. Click Create Alert.

Right-click the word Feed, and choose Copy Link Location. Open your favorite RSS reader and add the link. In FeedDemon, for example, click Subscribe, enter the URL, click Next, Next, and Finish. In Outlook, choose Tools, Account Settings, and click the RSS Feeds tab. Click New, paste the feed, click Add, and click OK.

Optionally, you could configure Google Alerts to just send email messages, but I like the flexibility in using an RSS reader; I can keep those messages separate from email. Plus, I have them synchronized across several devices. However you set up the alerts and feeds, you'll be the first to hear about relevant news, without having to scour through a bunch of sites.

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