Google Reader’s New Page-Monitoring Feature — How’s it Working?

A couple weeks ago I covered Google’s new feature that allows you to monitor pages even when they don’t have RSS feeds. A few days ago reader LP e-mailed me and asked about the new feature, “Did it work?” And I realized I had completely forgotten to write a follow-up post. So yeah, about Google Reader’s new page-monitoring feature….

The first great thing about this feature is that it taught me how many Web pages do in fact have RSS feeds. I went to several places meaning to monitor the page for pages, only to discover that RSS feeds were available now. Yay!

I did find some places that did not have RSS feeds, though; the best example is probably the Twitter lists that use Tweets from ResearchBuzz. The URL for the list is but I didn’t know of any way to track when new lists were added to this page. So that was my test case for Google Reader.

Every change to the page is a new entry in Google Reader. The screenshot above shows an example of an entry. There’s no context on the page, and if I wasn’t familiar with the page content to start with, the entry wouldn’t be useful (in other words, I wouldn’t share it.)

I also tried the Google Reader with, which is a list of upcoming TEDx events all over the world. Again, I didn’t get any context, just the line that changed.

One Google Reader update monitor I did failed. I was trying to monitor a particular business in Google Maps because I wanted to see what kind of reviews they got. I think this might be my fault, however. I looked up the business in Google, and then used the extremely-long-and-awkward URL supplied by Google as my monitoring URL. Google never got an update for that page, and complained that the page didn’t exist. I’m going to try it again using the link supplied by Google on the business’ page.

For me, the gold standard for page monitoring remains WebSite-Watcher, a client-side application available at However it is for Windows only. Until it’s available for my operating system, I think I’ll keep using this new feature of Google Reader.

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