There is no doubt about it, RSS news feeds are finally heating up the web. Given that Google’s Personalized Page (http://www.google.com/ig) now lets users add any RSS feed, RSS is finally useful for the average user. Similar support has also been added to Yahoo’s My Yahoo page.
Simply put, if you know a news web site provides information in an RSS feed, you just need to add the URL of the feed to the Google of My Yahoo page. Once you do, the news headlines will appear on that web page whenever they are updated on the original news site. There is only one way this could be easier. Very poor instructions are provided to show users exactly how to add feeds to Google or Yahoo.
With that in mind, I am in the process of putting together a QuickTime movie that shows just how easy it is to add RSS feeds to Google or Yahoo, provided you know where to look.
In the mean time, Google News has made a massive leap forward in aggregating the news into RSS feeds. First of all, if you are not familiar with Google News, you are missing out. Visit http://news.google.com for all manner of news from around the world. It is categorized into topics such as Top Stories, World, Business, Technology, and Entertainment.
Google News pulls in news from sites all over the web. Further more, Google doesn’t just provide a link to the story in its entirety, it provides a list of other stories on the same topic. For example, you can read the BBC news story detailing NASA’s celebration of the recent shuttle landing, or you can click on the link beside the headline that will show you 3,729 stories related to the recent shuttle mission. That type of organization is what makes Google News one of the most valuable places to find news on the web!
Now, Google News has taken aggregation to a new level. Google now provides RSS feeds of any and all news listed in Google News. For example, if you want to add the latest Science and Technology stories to your personalized home page, just grab the RSS link from the Sci/Tech section of Google news!
But Google didn’t stop there. One of the most powerful features of Google News is that ability to search news related stories. Now, when you search the news, you can generate and RSS feeds based on your search. This makes it ridiculously easy to create a custom RSS feed for your home page that contains only the news that you want to read about. Consider the previous example of the recent shuttle mission. You could search Google News for the words NASA and Steve Robinson (a member of the mission). This will provide you with a list of news stories about NASA and Steve Robinson. Then, click on the RSS link and Google will give you a link to the RSS feed that will keep you up to date on the stories as they appear. Just add that link to you favorite news aggregator, your Google Personalized Page, or your My Yahoo page.
With almost all major news sites embracing RSS, and with the support Google and Yahoo have added recently, the face of the web is changing again. Not only is information available and easy to find, it is finally being delivered to the reader. Why search for news when it can be brought to you? And, since Google is now putting the latest news into RSS feeds, even sites that have not yet taken the plunge into RSS can benefit from the technology. Google has done the work for them!
Please look for my upcoming post showing how easy it is to add RSS feeds to your home page. The RSS readers now built into Google Personalized and My Yahoo are extremely powerful. But that power will remain untapped until people are aware that the features are there for them to use. Until better documentation is provided, I hope to fill that gap.