RSS: Gateway to News and Blog Content, Part 2

  |  April 23, 2003   |  Comments

RSS search is on the rise. An introduction to a tool for finding news and blog content. Part two of two.

RSS search engines can help locate feeds to subscribe to. The real power is they offer on-demand searching of blogs, news, and other information.

Can you get this from ordinary search engines such as Google News, AllTheWeb News, AltaVista News, or other news search engines?

For traditional news, all are excellent resources. But traditional news sources lack the opinionated yet interesting current events information often present in blogs.

As mentioned last time, many blogs feed their content in RSS format. This means RSS search engines can provide a more blog-centric view of what you're searching for. "Headlines" from these in a search for "iraq" includes items such as:

  • US Military Spams Iraq

  • American Right As Ridiculous As European Left

  • Not In My Name

  • Shock and Awe Analysis Published on the Web

  • Here Are The Arguments On War Or No War

  • A Warmonger Explains War To A Peacenik
The New RSS Search Engines

A rundown of what I've seen:

Feedster (originally Roogle) has grown progressively better, with a large jump in relevancy and a much-needed improvement in how results are displayed. One to watch.

rssSearch, as with Feedster, shows promise. Another one to keep an eye on.

BlogDigger launched only a few weeks ago. So far, content only includes sites that self-report changes to their RSS files via (An article from RSS-maven Tara Calishain explains how works).

SNARF, mentioned last time as an RSS reader, is considered by some an RSS search engine. I haven't found that capability. SNARF displays a list of popular feeds other users have subscribed to. You can scan the list and pick feeds of interest, but there's only popularity to go by. Only the feed's file name is shown, no category, title, or description.

Fresh Search, also called Terrar, is another new service I haven't yet investigated.

Last month, Microdoc News posted an article discussing how to turn Google into an RSS search engine. What it really does is turn Google into an RSS feed directory, or discovery service.

In other words, you can discover feeds on particular topics using the technique described. You cannot search against the actual content of those feeds and read individual articles, as Feedster and rssSearch allow.

No doubt we'll see more RSS search engines emerge. Watch David Davies's list of RSS search engines. He's written a short commentary touching on issues involved with RSS search engines.

Permalink Surf With Technorati

You can't keyword-search at Technorati, unlike the RSS search engines above. Nevertheless, there's a lot to like about this wonderful site that launched this year as a blog discovery and analysis tool.

Enter any URL into Technorati's URL box and click the "Get Link Cosmos" button. You'll see which bloggers link to that URL and what they are saying about it.

Unlike the RSS search engines above, Technorati is blog specific. It only spiders content from sites that meet its criteria of being blog-like, such as having RSS distribution, "permalinks" to posts, and ease of constructing items. A background page explains more.

On Technorati's Breaking News feature, top blog headlines are assembled in automated, Google News-like fashion. There's also a Current Events feature and a top 100 blogs list based on linkage patterns.

More Blog Link Analysis From Blogdex

A service that leverages blog links for discovery purposes is Blogdex. Think of it as a "buzz" index. The goal is to show which links on the Web get the most references from bloggers.

Creator Cameron Marlow doesn't rely solely on RSS feeds but uses services that monitor blog changes, such as and He pulls links from updated blogs and analyzes them to see what's hot.

Stats are updated every 10 minutes, but link currency generally lasts about a day. In other words, when you visit the site, you'll pretty much see what's hot that day, not over a longer period.

Don't Forget Daypop!

RSS isn't new to Daypop. The popular news search engine has made RSS content searchable for almost a year. Daypop has made Weblog and news content searchable even longer, since August 2001.

Visit Daypop and your search goes against current "news" and "Weblog" content by default. You can search this content separately or through RSS content. All options are available via a drop-down box on the home page.

Blog content comes primarily from whomever submitted themselves as Weblogs to Daypop, according to submission-page instructions (news sites can also submit). If you select the Weblogs search option, you'll likely get a more opinionated view of current events.

How about RSS headlines? Daypop examines a list of feeds provided by the aforementioned News Is Free. Daypop then visits all listed content, allowing users to search within it.

Why choose the RSS headlines option? Hard to say. Choosing it means you'll get matches from traditional news sites and Weblogs, as both distribute via RSS. Daypop also offers a "News & Weblogs" search option. Does it cover the same material as the RSS headlines choice? No.

Not all news sites or Weblogs distribute via RSS. When you elect that option, you might miss some self-submitted or hand-selected sites Daypop's other options provide access to. Similarly, there may be news or blogs that are only found via RSS.

The ultimate solution would be to combine all RSS feeds into the other content and drop duplicate URLs. Unfortunately, it's still difficult to tell a Weblog from a news site from the RSS feeds alone. Daypop is considering options. To help it along, I'd encourage those who like the service to make a voluntary donation to support it.

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Danny Sullivan

Danny Sullivan left Search Engine Watch as of Dec. 1, 2006.

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