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There are many tools to search for interesting keywords. Combined them with an RSS reader and you can easily stay up to date on topics you care about.

In the article on RSS and Google Reader you said: "For example I regularly use RSS feeds to keep abreast of new mentions of my name, or my wife's business on the internet." How do you do that?

Well, it's more than just using RSS and an RSS reader, but it's very easy, actually. In fact, I'm frequently surprised by what my own notifications turn up, and surprised at how many other folks that should be watching things aren't.

The 'trick', if you want to call it that, is to use a site or service that returns it's results in RSS format, and then subscribe to that RSS feed in your RSS reader.

Let's use the phrase "ask leo" as an example.

I'll start with Google's Blog Search, and search for the words ask leo. The results will likely begin something like this:

Google Blog Search Results

As you can see, it's returned recent results for the phrase "ask leo" in the blogosphere.

The key here are those two links near the bottom left of the page labeled Atom and RSS. Click on the RSS button (or right click and copy the link) and subscribe to the feed in your favorite RSS feed reader.

That's it.

What happens next is the semi-magical part: when you fire up your feed reader, it will fetch that feed and display any new items. In this case, the feed is actually the most recent Google blog search results for the phrase "ask leo". So, each time a new instance of "ask leo" appears on Google's blog radar, I'll see it the very next time I view the results.

"The key here is to find search or notification services that offer their results in RSS format."

In this specific case - Google blog search - you can set up feeds for all sorts of terms and phrases with exact or broad matches and more.

If you have a web site, another good phrase to search for is your base domain. Searching for "ask-leo.com" in this manner tells me when someone links to my site from their blog. (Sometimes they're then quite surprised when I pop by and leave a comment thanking them. Smile).

So far this has all been blog related, and specifically using Google's blog search. (Technorati is another blog search engine that will also return results in RSS format.)

What about "plain old search"?

Unfortunately, Google does not make its search results available in an RSS feed, so using Google for this is out. However, other search engines do. Specifically, Microsoft's Live Search will, although it's not immediately obvious.

Here's a search on "ask leo" using Microsoft Live Search:

Microsoft Live Search results for ask leo

I've highlighted the RSS icon (RSS Feed Icon) in Internet Explorer's toolbar. (Firefox users will find this icon in the address bar.) When a page is displayed that makes an RSS feed available, this icon then allows you to subscribe to it. In this case, the feed provided is for search results on the phrase "ask leo". If I subscribe to it in my RSS reader, then I'm alerted each time Microsoft's Live Search returns new results for the phrase.

And as one other example using RSS, Google News also provides RSS feeds of its search results. Once again, do your search, click on the RSS link or icon, and you'll stay abreast of new news items relating to the terms you search for.

The key here is to find search or notification services that offer their results in RSS format. Once you do, then you can subscribe to those results and stay on top of interesting and ever changing results.

I do have to throw out one additional service that is not related to RSS, but will give you what many people want as well: new instances of your phrase as found by Google's Web search engine. This additional service would be Google Alerts.

From their page: "Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic."

This differs from Google blog search and Google news search in that it's presumably using the regular Google web search to generate its information. Exactly how much overlap there is between all these services is somewhat of a mystery.

And Google Alerts are available only via email.

But since Google's the big player when it comes to search these days, I use this as well.

Article C3440 - July 9, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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3 Comments
Ray
July 10, 2008 5:56 AM

Another way is to use a free online service like Feed43 that can create a RSS feed from any web page. Feed43 isn't as easy to set up as the methods given in the article as search strings have to be created manually to tease information from the page's source, but the result is highly customizable and allows a RSS feed of a Google search, for instance.

Ronda Dempsey
July 19, 2008 10:47 AM

I'VE REALLY ENJOYED READING YOUR COLUMN. i ENJOY THE LINKS YOU PUT UP AS I GO ALONG.

I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE TIME I KNOW YOU'VE PUT INTO YOUR WORK, AND WHAT YOU'VE TAUGHT ME.

RESPECTFULLY, RONDA DEMPSEY

Gurvin
July 24, 2008 9:45 AM

I didn't know about this RSS search. You answer all the "BASIC" questions I have been wanting to get answered all the time.
AMAZING. Many times I simply BROWSE actually FINDING questions and then feel "hey! I always wanted to know that. I cant believe I still don't know that after being computer-literate for 12 years."

Thanks.
Your Fan,
Gurvin.

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