Google Reader Can Be Your Best Friend

For most new people to SEM (whom we refer to as n00bs), the concept of RSS is difficult to grasp. Even for a techie, the concept can be a bit overwhelming. Funny thing is, it's so simple once you understand it that you have a hard time realizing that you once struggled with the concept.

I really don't want to go into what RSS is, there are plenty of websites out there that will do that for you. What I did want to mention is related to one of Google's newer products, Google Reader.

Google Reader (GR) is an RSS aggregator. Basically, it takes 'feeds' from different sites and puts them all on one page for you. Why is this cool? Well, assuming you've been around for even just a short time, you've discovered some great blogs targeted to the SEO/SEM industry. You probably have these blogs in your favorites, or maybe in links across the top of your browser. You visit them every day or every few days to see what's new, to soak up some good tips, and just to keep a Pulse on the industry.

Problem is, you keep discovering new blogs, adding more links, and pretty soon you're visiting so many sites that you can't remember if you've read this one or not. In steps GR.

Your first (and hopefully most obvious) step is to sign up for GR. Easy enough, I hope.

Next, let's get some feeds loaded. You're gonna need a few browser windows going, probably.

So let's use this website as an example. Poor SEM has a 'feed', which you can subscribe to. On the home page, look for this icon:

You'll notice that you can click on the icon, and you'll end up here - a page with a bunch of crazy looking code. What good is that? (Not much to you - at least in that format!)

Back to the home page. This time, right click on the icon, and copy the shortcut (in IE it's Copy Shortcut. In Firefox it's Copy Link Location).

Back to GR. On the left you'll see a green bar that says Add Subscription. Click that, and paste in the "feed link" that you copied earlier, then click Add. You should see the page refresh, and Poor SEM will show up in the bottom left area as one of the feeds you read. In parentheses you should have a number, which tells you how many posts you have not yet read. On the right you'll have the posts, or at least the first few paragraphs of a post, depending on how the site owner set up their outgoing feed.

Now go to another site you like. Chances are, they've got a feed button. It may look similar to my icon, or it may actually be an "Add to Google" button. Unfortately there is no set standard for feeds, but the most common is defeinitely the little orange box like mine.

So there you go. Add all your feeds to GR. Delete all those buttons across your link bar and just add the link to GR. As you continue to use the reader, you'll find out some blogs don't interest you as much. Delete, add, and tweak to get just the news you want every day. GR does all the work, you just click and read. Google Reader might just become your best friend!


Will Hanke owns Saint Louis' top independent Internet Marketing firm, Red Canoe Media. In addition to helping some of St Louis' most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.

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