Google Reader No Longer Just for RSS Feeds



Attend any of my presentations on the topic of competitive intelligence and you’ll hear me recommend various tools for keeping tabs on changes your competitors make to their web pages.

Now, Google Reader has entered the page monitoring business:

For example, if you wanted to follow Google.org’s latest products, just type "http://www.google.org/products.html" into Reader’s "Add a subscription" field. Click "create a feed", and Reader will periodically visit the page and publish any significant changes it finds as items in a custom feed created just for that page.

A quick confirmation:

And Google Reader will start alerting you to any changes it discovers on a page.

I’m going to test it out on a few of my competitors web sites and will let you know if it blows the doors of the previous tools I recommended–which I doubt, but who knows.

Oh, and the new feature isn’t just for competitive intelligence. There are a bunch of uses for it, including:

  • New coupons are posted to your favorite retailer
  • Reputation monitoring for sites that don’t provide RSS feeds
  • New real estate listings
  • Hard to find items on Craigslist

Any other cool uses you can think of?

  • http://www.seansupplee.com Sean Supplee

    Google is always coming up with great new ideas and innovation. I thought just the other day to myself why readers only work with RSS feeds and there is no simple way to create your own for a site you wanted to follow if non was provided. Great addition and smart move by Google
    .-= Sean Supplee´s last blog ..How to Ping my Blog =-.

  • http://www.bigpictureweb.com Josh Braaten

    Oh wow this is a big change. And it’s things like this that make me wonder why you keep hearing people say RSS is dead. Do they mean that things like this new feature in Reader will replace RSS as we know it or are they saying that “push” technology in general is dead? All I know is that I find Reader to be very helpful. This new feature will keep me a Reader fan for quite some time to come.
    .-= Josh Braaten´s last blog ..My Squarespace Website Review: 3 Pro’s and 1 Con =-.

  • http://www.juliadalton.com Julia Dalton

    I have also heard that you can use this new functionality to track the backlinks of your competitor’s websites. By following their inlink Site Explorer page in Yahoo, hypothetically you could get an update each time a new link crops up within the first 20 or so results. It is not foolproof, but it is also so simple to set up it is worth a shot.

  • http://tomcarnell.com Tom Carnell

    Have you tried Femtoo (http://femtoo.com) ? Femtoo is an advanced version of this and but ALSO has these key features:

    - Monitor particular parts of a page
    - Parse data and check for particular conditions (share price hit a certain amount etc)
    - Premium accounts can create ‘low latency’ trackers for critical monitoring applications
    - Receive notifications via email, Instant Messenger and soon SMS (I think)
    - Add a ‘widget’ to any page to allow people to ‘subscribe’ to a ‘tracker’
    - It uses the amazing cQuery (http://cquery.com) Server-side CSS Content Selection Engine
    - You can publish ‘trackers’ to the ‘Tracker Library’ and anybody can subscribe.

    tom