It doesn’t matter if you are a news reporter, a blogger, or just a regular guy who want to find the trends around the Internet, you want to be productive and use as little time as possible to find what’s popular and new.
For me, I want to stay on top of technology and software related news, and to tell you the truth – I wouldn’t want to spend more than a tick to get what I want to see, or find out if it is popular. I want to introduce seven ways of tracking trends and popular resources online.
Watch Alexa Stat. There are two visit points. Alexa Traffic details and Movers. Alexa Traffic details gives you access on web site traffic estimations based on Alexa’s users population. With the dynamically generated graph, You could compare up to five different sites on traffic. Alexa Movers provides you with a view on which sites gain the most traffic recently. It is a terrific way to track on sites which have just hit the upward traffic (which is what we call a trend on the Internet). If you are using Firefox, download SearchStatus. It’s an excellent extension with Alexa Ranking display plus other great information on the site.
Track Technorati. It is a blogging search engine. “Does it do searches only?”, you ask. For trend watcher, they have three more things for you – a popular page which shows the popular videos, movies, news and books bloggers have written about; a tag page which displays the popular tags for the hour. It also could help you to track posts which bloggers have tagged; and third, if you take a look at the tag search result, you see a nice trend graph. Take Apple iPhone for example, let’s see how the trend goes at the moment:
Look at PageRank. Not as useful as other methods, but it shows you overtime how many external pages have been linked to the page you are on. PageRank depends on the volume of incoming links. Number of incoming links can be one of the ways to judge if the content is worthwhile at all. I recommend SearchStatus instead of Google Toolbar to get the PageRank info as SearchStatus is more lightweight with tons of features.
Read Digg. It is great. Sometimes it gets news much faster than mainstream media and bloggers. But sometimes the news that hit frontpage are just plain useless for me. So subscribe or read a specific topic section.
Read Slashdot. I know, it is pretty old school. But they still feature some breaking news about the technical and technology industry.
Use your Feed Readers. Find several frequently updated sites with feeds. Subscribe their feed with your feed reader. Track them all at once. As this is your own selections, I recommend to keep down the number of subscriptions, or at least categorize your feed into two areas. A trend watching area which is an area you read often, and Others which is a folder with less important feeds. Keep the noise vs signal ratio low.
Hope these seven ways will save you time on tracking trends and popular stuff online. Got any more tips? Comment them here or send them to tips at lifehack.org