Why I love Google tools, RSS and Google Reader

Waiting for a daily email newsletter to arrive or remembering to check any number of websites for updates can leave you ‘behind the curve’ on client and market developments. It can also be time consuming and things can disrupt the regular supply of emails.

You might use some Google tools but here are some quick ways to help cut through your information overload.

1. Setting up a Google account

Dead easy. If you haven’t got one head to www.google.co.uk and select Sign in top right. Create an account, verify it from your email, sign in, and you’ll be able to access a range of Google services for free.

2. Google Alerts

Activating a Google Alerts account means you can get information related to keywords, clients and brands you are interested in, delivered to your inbox as frequently as you want them. Google Alerts scour the internet taking in news, blogs, video, image, YouTube, books and lots more. You can set them to occur more or less frequently than I have below and can check in and run an update at any time.

3. RSS Feeds When you see this icon on a web page, it means you can be updated every time something new appears on that page. There are two ways to take regular, ‘live’ feeds from a webpage into Google, using the personalised home page or Google Reader, more below.

(You can, if you prefer, bypass all this and set up RSS feeds into Microsoft Outlook too but that restricts use to your work computer whereas with Google, you can access services anywhere and on any computer in the world).

 

Click ‘Subscribe now’ and you should see this screen, which gives you two options, outlined below.

4. iGoogle Home Page

Using the iGoogle setting rather than Classic (see the top right corner in the screen grab below) means you can personalise your internet browsing desktop and have your most important news feeds available at a touch of a button. The advantage of using this is that every time you refresh, each feed refreshes so you get the very latest published content from that site on your Internet home page.

And you don’t need to set up another email account as had previously been the case. (All my Google activity runs through my Yahoo! Ymail account).

 

5. Google Reader

There are several options on ‘readers’ but I personally prefer the Google Reader service which lists all ‘feeds’ in one place. Here you can group all your favourite sites, blogs and RSS feeds and flick through them easily. The latest content published on a site you take a feed from is always displayed at the top in bold.

The whole thing is designed to save time and effort but keep you up to date with the information and the sites you need to stay updated about. It isn’t necessarily a substitute for those daily/weekly emails which have a value and contain additional content, but for news that could provide an opportunity to respond on if done quickly, it is extremely useful.

The screen grabs below show various list views and expanded views. Depending on the feed, some articles can be read in their entirety in Reader, whilst others will give an introduction to the article but still require you to click through.

 

Different story displays:

 

I open up Google Reader first thing in the morning and check in a few times a day. Helps me keep up with the game, if not ahead of it.

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8 responses to “Why I love Google tools, RSS and Google Reader

  1. Hi Rene. Something’s gone wrong here. Can’t see any of the images. May be just me but I thought you’d like to know.

  2. Thanks for letting me know. Hopefully all the screengrabs are now visible.

  3. Rene: Great intro to using Google Reader to manage your RSS and keep down information overload.

    I hope this is enough to keep things at a reasonable level. If your number of feeds exceeds what you can manage in Google Reader, then you, or your readers, might want to check out the tools we are working on over at Bscopes.com to help visualize your blogs and cut through the clutter. We’d love to know what you think.

  4. Rene: I appreciate that. Right now we are short on meaningful feedback from folks suffering from information overload.

  5. Hi Rene,

    Absolutely agree with you, all these services are part of the reason I bought a Google Nexus phone, the integration into Android for these, and more, is great and gives me access to the services wherever I am.

    I have actually gone one further and use the Google Premier service for email and now find I am using Google Docs much more, and looking into Google Groups and more. Real shame that Wave didn’t take off.

    • Thanks Andrew. Did you see the next blog about Google Docs? An amazing example of what you go do with it. Blows Microsoft Office out of the water.

      • I did Rene, really impressive. My only reason for not moving totally to Google Docs rather than MS Office is those times when I need to do things and don’t have internet access.

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