Content Discovery with Google Reader and Google Alerts

I currently subscribe to 760 blogs. I find them invaluable for keeping informed and for spotting industry trends.  Some of them, many of them, are quite entertaining too.

I use Google Reader to primarily control and centralise my subscriptions.  I also use Google Reader to read these blogs when I am on my PC, but I prefer reading them on my iPad using the Reeder app.

Social media in its “firehose” format is a terrible way to keep up to date with blogs in my opinion.  Someone can write a blog, announce it and then post a tweet (or whatever) about it and unless you constantly have your eye on your feed, you could miss it.  For blogs that I want to read each and every post, I prefer RSS and Google Reader.

Social media, however, is excellent for “content discovery” – especially if you use apps like Flipboard or Zite.  You follow people on Twitter (or whatever) who you think will share interesting and relevant information and so it makes sense that if they share some content, you would be interested to see it.  Flipboard is perfect format for consuming these shares.

There is another method for “content discovery” that I’d like to introduce – especially if you are interested in specific, relatively narrowly defined topics – and that is Google Alerts.

I’ve been using Google email alerts for years – and they are so helpful.   They are great for brand monitoring, being alerted about local events, etc.  But did you know that you can also get these alerts delivered to Google Reader as an RSS feed.  I’ve only recently discovered this feature, and have found it really useful as a new “content discovery” mechanism.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Go to the Google Alerts site – http://www.Google.com/alerts  (or http://www.google.co.uk/alerts in the UK)

2. Type in the search phrase that you want to monitor (i.e. look for new sources for your RSS feed)

3. You can select the type of results (e.g. Blogs only), how many results you want, and where you want it delivered — here you want to select “Feed”

4. Press “Create Alert” and you’ll see this screen:

5.  The next step is to simply click on the “Deliver to Google Reader” link and you will automatically subscribe to this new feed.

Now, when you are reading your blog feed on Google Reader or Reeder you will receive new blogs that you currently don’t subscribe to – but could be relevant / interesting to you.  You can then decide to fully subscribe to these new sources of information.