In 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, Darren talks about how only a portion of the time spent blgging is actually spent writing blog posts. A good amount of time is spent on other, side-lying tasks, including monitoring news and trends in the field.
I use Google Alerts but generally used them for monitoring my own content preventing plagerism through Google Alerts as well as checking for any mentions of my blog, name, twitter name, etc. These vanity alerts, and plagerism checks are just two ways to use Google Alerts. Darren recomends setting alerts for keyword phrases in your niche topic area so you’ll get alerts and updates of breaking news, other sites, important breakthroughs, conferences, or other happenings.
Personally, I prefer to use RSS feeds for this type of thing to prevent my inbox from getting too cluttered to keep up with. However, an RSS feed will only present content from sites I’ve pre-selected, while a Google Alert will display hits from websites I might not even be aware exist. What do you use think are the pros and cons here?
Challenge Today – Create a handful of new Google Alerts in your topic area. Monitor the results for a week and see if there is a keyword phrase that gives too many results or incorrect results – drop those and keep only the alerts that provide the information you need.
How do you best monitor your topic area? Twitter lists? Collected? RSS feeds of favorite sites? Google Alerts?