Reputation Tracking and Rapid Response
You should know when someone online is writing about you, good or bad. If it's bad you should be ready to respond asap if appropriate. How do organizations like this do it? Most commonly, people set up a search through either Technorati, PubSub or Feedster for their web site's URL. (These engines specialize in searching the millions of blogs on the web.) That way, whenever someone posts their URL on another site, the search engines will find it. The searches are set up as RSS feeds (see definition of terms, if needed) so that every time you log in to your RSS reader's inbox, along side new items from all the news sites and blogs you've subscribed to, you'll see if there are any new results for the searches for links to your blog or website. It happens pretty fast, and the faster you can respond the better it looks. If someone is linking to something you've written or if they have nice things to say about you, then knowing about it allows you to further extend the conversation and develop a relationship.
Linking is a big part of what the web is all about, and always has been. I got lots of traffic, and thus participation in discussions, from being linked to by Geek News Central and Marketing Studies.net. We didn't exchange links just for the sake of traffic, but because I wrote about something that was useful to them (a review of GNC's podcast and a link to RSS Mix sent to MarketingStudies.net.) Providing valuable and interesting content is the key to quality linking and online discussion, and the above persistent search engines are an important enabler for all of it to occur - for all of us to get the most out of this medium of communication called the web.
Which one of these blogosphere search engines works best? I don't know, but I do know that they find different results in different time frames. So why not use them all? A good RSS reader will let you put feeds in a folder, so start a folder for reputation tracking and just put as many search feeds as you can in it. It won't do anything but sit there quietly until it finds something new.
Searching for people talking about you is of course just one subset of a larger search strategy you can employ to be similarly notified automatically of search results regarding any subject of interest. Automating and personalizing your information inflow saves you a huge amount of time and energy while exposing you to valuable content streams you would have otherwise never seen. Then, when something important comes down the stream, you can save it in your archive (like Furl.net) for later retrieval. It's pretty cool.
See also: my earlier post, Persistent search to RSS options
Technorati Tags: Search, Reputation, Persistent Search, RSS, Technorati, PubSub, Feedster