Over the past years, Google has added feed support to a number of services. I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favorites and others that allow you to get Google material delivered straight to your newsreader. Below, a rundown of feeds offered ranging from Google Blog Search through to Google Groups. Plus, a look at how the offerings could do with some more standardization within Google.
1. All Official Google Blogs Feed
Google launched the Official Google Blog back in April 2004 (the first post seeking job recruits has since been deleted). Since then, the company has gained over 30 or more product and language-specific blogs.
Posts like last Friday’s great year-end recap from the Google Webmaster Central Blog don’t always make it to the main Google Blog. The same is true for other official Google Blogs like Inside AdSense or Inside AdWords.
How not to miss out? Last November, Google finally gave me an address for a Google Reader feed that consolidates all their various blog posts into one. That got more public exposure from Google itself at the end of December, as part of the A year in Google blogging post. But plenty of people probably still aren’t aware of it.
2. Google Press Releases
Aside from Google Blog posts, Google makes its press releases available via feed. Sometimes releases have news that’s not on the corporate blog. Usually, the releases come out well after you’ve already read news of some Google development. The press releases read like, well, standard press releases. Still, it can be handy to get the official PR line direct from Google.
Unfortunately, feed posts don’t link you to the actual release but rather to the top of the press release page. Still, it’s just an extra click, and you’re there.
3. Google Blog Search Feed
Stay up on what people are saying about your blog using a Google Blog Search feed. Enter your blog URL into the main search box at Google Blog Search. The box will come back filled in like this example for Search Engine Land:
Next, change the "Sorted by" default to "Sort by date" using the link at the top of the right-hand side of the results. Now you’ll have Google Blog Search set to catch all the latest backlinks to you.
Want the feed? Look on the left-hand side of the screen. Find the Subscribe area in the left-navigation column like this:
Pick either the Atom or the RSS option to get these matches sent to your feedreader. Matches are also offered via email.
Unfortunately, Google still doesn’t allow you to get backlinks minus backlinks from your own site. Remember, you can also do this using words. Just enter the words you want to monitor, and then you’ll get Google Blog Search matches sent to you via feed.
4. Google News Search Feed
There are several ways to get news results from Google via feed. Want the top stories on the Google News home page? Look on the left-hand side, and you’ll see links for RSS & Atom feeds.
Want the top stories from any of the key sections, such as Sci/Tech? Go to the section, then look on the left-hand side and use the RSS or Atom feed links. They’ll be in a box like this:
Want to craft your own feed? Just search for terms you are interested in, such as google. After you search, use the RSS or Atom feed links on the left-hand side of the screen, in the same box style as shown above.
5. Gmail Via Feed
Want to get Gmail messages in your feed reader? Google makes this available. Follow the instructions from Google on getting Gmail via feed here.
IMPORTANT! DO NOT MAKE THIS FEED PUBLIC IF YOU USE A WEB-BASED SYSTEM LIKE GOOGLE READER OR BLOGLINES. If you make the feed public, people can see the subjects and descriptions of your email. More about this from Google here.
6. Google Video Feeds
Google lets you keep up on the Top 100 new videos on Google Video via feed. Down at the bottom of the Google Video home page you’ll see this:
That About RSS link leads here, which gives you this rundown on feeds from Google:
Aside from the most popular videos, you can also see the latest videos for sale via the feed option page.
7. Google Base Feeds
Sadly, you can’t do a search on Google’s shopping search engine Froogle and monitor product results. But Google Base which lists many products gives you a bit of a work-around. Do a search for a product, such as this:
That’s the feed!
8. Google Groups Feeds
Want to monitor posts at a Google Groups list, such as Google Webmaster Help: Crawling, indexing, and ranking. Go to the group you like, then scroll down to the bottom. Then click on the orange XML button at the bottom like this:
That provides feed options like this:
9. Google Personalized Home Page
OK, this one is more about giving Google feeds than taking them. Want to see the latest on anything every time you go to Google? The Google Personalized Home Page lets you add a feed from anywhere, to turn the site into a master feed reader.
Sure, there are better services to use (NetVibes is great). But you’re likely at Google anyway. Why not stay in touch while there? To do so, pick content from the Homepage Content widgets and feed directory by browsing, by searching (for example see how we show up) or use the "Add by URL" option to add any feed (including those above!)
10. Google Web & Other Search Feeds
I’m cheating here. Google does NOT allow you to make a feed to monitor web search results. They’re way overdue for this. Instead, use Yahoo or Live Search to monitor web searches, as described below.
At Yahoo, search for something like this. You should see the orange feed icon show up in the address bar of Firefox or the toolbar of IE7.
Alternatively, view source, then find the rel="alternative" section like this:
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Yahoo! Search results for search engine
At Live.com, it’s the same. Do the search, then look for either icons in your browser or view source and find the section like this:
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href="
The part in bold is the feed address.
Clearly life would be much easier in both places if some type of feed URL was placed on the search results themselves. But, at least they’re actually offered!
Standardization Within Google
The need to standardize a way to help readers know if a feed is offered has been debated for years. The emergence of the standard feed icon at the end of 2005 has helped (for more, see here and here). But Google provides a microcosm of the issue, how even within one company, standardization has yet to come.
Look at the screenshots above, and you’ll see feeds offered with orange XML icons, orange standard feed icons, with the words "RSS" and "Atom" and even Bloglines and My Yahoo buttons used.
At the official Google Blog, they say site feed and offer an Add To Google button:
But at that "all Google Blogs" page in Google Reader, it’s only a Google Reader button offered:
On the one hand, that makes sense. You’re at Google Reader. But these are also pages shared with those who don’t use Google Reader, so the standard feed icon might also be good.