Keep an eye on changing pages

Google just launched a nice feature on Google Reader: the ability to keep an eye on pages for changes. This works even if the page doesn’t have its own RSS feed. This sort of thing is very handy. You could use it to spot new things on a privacy policy page or watch for changes in the executives page at another search engine.

Check out the blog post, but it’s easy to use: just add any url to Google Reader.

57 Responses to Keep an eye on changing pages (Leave a comment)

  1. I think this is a great feature. As Matt said I can think of tons of use for this for the Search Marketing and SEO community. A great way to see when your competition makes changes and it is also a great way to note when Google sees the changes you are making to your own site.

  2. Matt,

    Are you able to provide any timelines or heads up to Caffeine’s full release as well?

  3. I’ve always been a little confused about how Google Reader handles typo-fixes if they happen after the post was published but before the end-user opened it. I guess this development is reassuring 🙂

  4. @Michael

    I thought Caffeine was already up and running .. in that search results lately vary from one browser to the next

  5. Hi Matt,

    Would this work for a whole website or only a webpage?


  6. sounds cool to me ! and you know what, I am using google reader to read almost all blogs, here @ my office, where most of them are blocked. including blogs and blogspot .. but I can read them using google reader 😉 minus images, if they are hosted on the same server

  7. Great news….also…what is the Android response to Apple tablet….and Verizon offering iPhone or Safari as well as Droid. Hmmmmmm. Diggin Google Reader…..what do you have that indexes with authority like FFlickr? Good times. Does Reader have a mobile app?

  8. good ~

  9. I have been using for this purpose, but somehow it didnt work out well, now that Google Reader has the ability to show changes to its index built around particular web pages’ addition of contents, I am sure I am interested!

  10. I have been using website called ChangeDetection for this purpose, but somehow it didnt work out well, now that Google Reader has the ability to show changes to its index built around particular web pages’ addition of contents, I am sure I am interested!

  11. This is actually very useful. Not only for the readers but for webmasters. Why? Information gets dated. I rarely write about current news, rather, I tend to write things like tutorials. I look back at my old posts and sometimes say, ‘wow I wrote that?’. The information becomes dated very quickly.

    For example, what version of WordPress are we on now 2.9.1 (this will change as soon as I write this). Things change and many people are operating on an out of date set of information because they read about it last year on their favorite ‘how to WordPress blog’ for example.

    When I write a page and subsequently I have new information, I go back a revise my pages often rather than create a new post. I believe in improving content instead of always cranking out new stuff.

    If you give readers the ability to keep track of updates to pages, this is a pretty nice feature.

  12. Mukul Verma, this is only for a single page at a time, but you can of course subscribe to a bunch of pages that you’re interested in.

  13. It’s very nice, especially for promos tracking. But when this feature will be available in other languages? (i checked this on Polish and didn’t find this option).

  14. Matt,

    While I’ve been creating such feeds for years using external products, having it integrated with Reader makes it all that much simpler.

    In spite of Twittercynics, RSS/Reader remain incredibly useful tools.

    Aloha, Jeff

  15. @Mark I agree with you here, content should be updated. Google’s index is full of outdated useless content as the algo gives more weight to old pages e.g. If your search for ‘advanced seo tactics’ you will see pages from 2006 on page 1.

  16. This is a great and useful update that will help in tracking changes in those sites which doesn’t update their users with changes intentionally or unintentionally 😉
    Google rocks!!

  17. Cool, kind of like a Google Alert feature for GR…

  18. Does it make any change (or help:)) the pages which already have feeds?

  19. Awesome. I can’t wait to use it.

  20. Thanks for the good one. Google Reader Extension for Chrome (Google Reader Checker) makes the job easier for me.

  21. How would you subscribe to a page that already has a feed defined? When I try to put in a page that already has a feed, Google Reader tries to subscribe to the feed, not the page.

  22. Since the only way to “opt-out” is to completely block Googlebot, opting out isn’t really an option for anyone who wants new/updated content to be indexed by Google. There are several ways this could be used negatively, so a better implementation would have been to have a separate bot for this that could be blocked while still allowing access to Googlebot.

    While normally a loyal Google supporter, I have to say that this time I am very disappointed (borderline disturbed) by the implementation.

  23. Dave I think the pros outweigh the cons. Anyone wanting and capable of causing harm could just write a program to scrape the content/code to find changes without using Google and would probably prefer to do that regardless.

    This is great for the many low tech/old school business and group sites that like to update their main page with specials or news that isn’t feed ready.

  24. This would be very handy for getting auto updates on non subscription pages. The amount of time i spend checking to see if something has been answered is unbelievable. It’s a shame it can’t tell you if another page is added though.

  25. This is great news and will be a very useful tool as Google Alerts has been for me.


  26. Nice way to keep an eye on the competition.

  27. Yeah! this is really helpful for people, google is becoming beneficial with addition of this feature…

  28. Nice features, but would it also work on flash websites ?

  29. I can think of a few businesses that specialize in this application that will get killed off. It’s a great feature for monitoring competitors and their compliance with MAP pricing.

  30. I like this and can see uses for it. Thanks!

  31. Great feature! I just wish it would work for pages that require authentication, like specific blogs on blogspot, where you use the same google account, as in gReader. Matt, where could i suggest this improvment? Thanks, Mihai

  32. This is exactly what I needed.

  33. Interesting. I wonder why Google would try to take emphasis away from people that take the time to take care of RSS feeds?

  34. How do i submit a questions for matts videos on youtube

    my questions is regarding tv scripts:

    I run a very popular Only Fools and Horses web site
    From time to time members write there own script

    Will i get penalized for keyword spamming when the names are repeated over 100 times in the script

    eg the keywords del and trigger below – full script on

    Del: It’s my doctor’s surgery, they’ve moved to this Randsdowne House. So, are you gonna tell me where it is then?
    Trigger: Yeah, go straight ahead right, and do a left
    Del: Right
    Trigger: Right. Then another left
    Del: Right
    Trigger: Then another left
    Del: Right
    Trigger: Right. Then another left. Right?
    Del: Nah you’ve lost me Trig
    Trigger: Well, it’s just left, left, left, left
    Del: Left, left, left, left?
    Trigger: That’s right Del
    Del: Hang on a minute, if I do a left 4 times, I’ll be back where I started
    Trigger: I know. It’s just over there

  35. Nikola Alexandrov

    Hello Matt,
    thanks for giving us this tool. It will certainly help us keep track on the few pages which we really care about updates.

    I have a question which I have been wanting to ask. I notice a huge discrepancy between the “site:” in and “site:” in e.g. for a particular site. I notice large authority sites losing a lot of their cached pages in the .com .

    IS this an effect of the “caffeine” update? And also, will this also happen with the rest of the datacentres, because I am guessing .com is always a step ahead.


  36. Great tool but like one person has already stated, is this intended to replace RSS feeds??

  37. This is amazing. I am interested to see the difference in updates using this new method vs. standard RSS.

  38. Now I can stop paying Andy Beal for Trackur, LOL jk. I thought something like this would roll out and I am glad to see it actually did. I already use Google Alerts as a way to track and manage reputation but I almost always have my reader tab open which makes tracking a little more convenient for me! Thanks.

  39. I just wish it would not work as same as like another agregator that can be used for spammer got other peoples articles blog.

  40. Have you tried Femtoo ( Femtoo is an advanced version of this and but ALSO has these key features:

    – Monitor particular parts of a page
    – Parse data and check for particular conditions (share price hit a certain amount etc)
    – Premium accounts can create ‘low latency’ trackers for critical monitoring applications
    – Receive notifications via email, Instant Messenger and soon SMS (I think)
    – Add a ‘widget’ to any page to allow people to ‘subscribe’ to a ‘tracker’
    – It uses the amazing cQuery ( Server-side CSS Content Selection Engine
    – You can publish ‘trackers’ to the ‘Tracker Library’ and anybody can subscribe.


  41. I apologize for an off-topic comment, but trying to ask anything of anyone at Google is like telephoning someone on the other side of the moon.

    I wanted to ask Matt if there is way to ask Googlebot to hold off crawling a page until it is updated. I am planning a website that employs a giant dataset that will be updated only once a day. This is the kind of data set that justifies quad cores and clusters. It’s simply too large to reside on a web server. But, when we boil the results down, they make a nice data set that is usable on a web server.

    The problem is that the resulting (web side) dataset changes enough and is large enough that we prefer to dump it all to the server as one giant query.

    Is there a way to let Googlebot know during this period that the pages it is looking for are presently unavailable, but will be back soon?

    Almost all of my sites with large datasets seem to receive constant visits from Googlebot. It doesn’t seem there is any window (half-hourish) when it wouldn’t be visiting some page we want indexed, but would prefer not to be indexed displaying a maintenance message.

    Is it possible to pass this on to Googlebot so it isn’t indexing pages in the middle of maintenance?

  42. That is pretty useful! Google Reader is awesome and would be nice to be able to keep track of non-blogs too.

  43. I feel so depressed lately after my website lost its 1st page listings on Google after 5 years. In fact it’s made me feel so bad it’s beginning to make me feel suicidal, as I could potentially lose everything, my business, house and the ability to support my family. Prior to ranking on page 1, I was in full-time employment working for another company. However, as my website climbed the rankings until eventually we were on page 1, I had 2 options; a) stay in full-time employment and allow some calls to go unaswered on the new site, or b) concerntrate on the new website and not let my new client’s down. I decided to opt for the latter and dedicate all my time and efforts towards the new business. Since Google recently changed its algorithm, our site’s dropped sharply, the phone’s have stopped ringing and I’m uncertain what future lies ahead. The predicament I have; do I retain my staff in the hope our rankings will reappear, or reduce staffing levels? If I cut back on staff, I then have the added pressure, what do I do if our rankings return to normal. I can’t keep laying people off at a drop of a hat, it’s simply not fair. I have always been loyal to Google too. We also use their sponsored advertising through AdWords, which has proved successful, although we cannot soley rely on PPC. It’s like having a shop on the high street, only to find the following day it’s relocated. No one can run a business like this.

  44. I don’t understand the need for this. Most of us land on a page, read the content and move on.

    I don’t see a need to spy on the page for changes which may be just corrections to typos. If there is a dramatic change to the page content, then I would expect that to be reflected in the search results for the benefit of new organic search visitors to the page.

    Clearly, I am missing something in my understanding of the need for this feature.

  45. A very handy feature for users, although for webmasters who want to restrict trackable content to what they choose to expose in RSS feeds or similar, it’s potentially a nuisance.

    Dave mentioned in an earlier comment that there’s no way to block Google Reader – that’s not entirely true, although the options aren’t great. Quoting a recent SEO Rountable post discussing a WebmasterWorld thread:

    Either you block Googlebot completely from pages you do not want to be tracked, or you add a noarchive tag to the pages you do not want tracked. Noarchive will also remove the cache link in the Google search results. There is no specific tag to block only Google Reader from tracking changes to your pages – maybe there should be?

    If you do not want to do any of these things and still do want to block Google Reader. Then set up an RSS feed and give that feed less content then you want. Google Reader should not override the auto-discover RSS feed and thus, it can stop people from tracking your pages.

  46. Very handy…i will use it a lot!

  47. Seems like a direct clone of which has been around for years.

  48. This tool is clearly not intended to replace RSS feeds but instead fill in the gap for sites that lack them. I think this is a great tool and I’m glad it finally rolled out. I’ll be able to see what the competitors are doing more closely now. I’m definitely anticipating them adding more features to that will allow you to quickly hone in on changes to particular pages.

  49. I can’t wait to use it.

  50. This sounds like a pretty cool feature. Of course it reminds me of the diff from the wiki world. Nice to see that we’ll have similar features on sites that are not wiki. Does it record all the changes that have been made, or does it only record the last change?

  51. google reader is indeed a nice google gadget, but i just want to ask that as per user point of view which one is more user friendly.

  52. Google is improving every aspect of its services. With the pace at which google is improving the web it’s hard to imaging what the shape of it would be after 10 years.

  53. ya i do agree with Evans thought, now a days we can’t even think about an hour in web without Google. Continuous update is what the other name of Google is!

  54. my employer also blocks blogs for some insane reason so i’ve definitely found it useful for this purpose … would be great to see in French btw.

  55. Matt,

    I don’t get it, why would you want to be notified to page changes? I don’t know if I am understanding this right. How would this benefit me?


  56. Will there be like a limit to the amount of pages that you can do ?, and in order fo this to work 100% do you have to submit your pages or will it be via pages that Google index?

    Sorry very silly question but not understanding 1100% here. 🙂

    Captivate m/^_^m/

  57. hi matt,

    i wonder if this would work to track my own sites for unauthorized changes – ie, getting hacked. Im on a rackspace server and my WP sites keep getting hacked.

    Speaking of which – One WP site that’s on a NetSol server was hacked and completely de-listed from Google. I’ve tried Google reconsideration 2x. I’ve been on the help forums and posted twice – no help. Still got 1st page rankings on bing and yahoo – and this is my only client and im about to lose him and lose my job. if there’s any chance you can help, or give me direction, im 100% legit, but dont want to post the URL on your comments. I would be forever indebted to you….. : /