Every day, blogs like Small Business Trends, Duct Tape Marketing and Small Business SEM post incredibly valuable information for small business owners. They go over tips and highlight tactics for the different ways that businesses can increase their marketing efforts and ultimately grow a more successful company.
But not every small business is well-versed in blogs and RSS. Plenty of SMB owners aren’t aware of how to find relevant blogs, where to look or even have the time to research which blogs are valuable and which are just noise. However, last week Google implemented a new feature to Google Reader to help change that. It’s called Google Bundles.
I was really excited when I first heard about Google bundles. I’m an avid Google Reader user (after finally switching over from Bloglines) and I think this is a great way for small business owners to share information, alert one another to blogs that may be able to help them, and just increase the technology-savvy of SMB owners in general. Blogs and RSS offer SMB owners an incredible way to educate themselves on running a business. Making it easier to tap into that information only increases the value.
The way Google Bundles works is that it allows you to “bundle” your RSS feeds together to create “groups” or “packs” of feeds and then associate a topic with them. For example, you can create a Google Bundle of your SMB information blogs, Web design blogs or simply a bundle for your hobby blogs. These bundles then become searchable so that you can share them with your Google contacts and spread the information. Or, you can simply benefit from the bundles your Google contacts have already made.
To create your bundles, click “Browse for stuff” and choose the Create a Bundle option.
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Once you do, you’ll be asked to name your bundle, offer a description and then drag and drop the feeds you want to associate with the bundle from your list.
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Once you’re finished, hit Save and add the bundle to your Shared Items list to allow your Google contacts to see it. You’ll also be given the option of emailing your bundle, creating a link for it on your blog or Web site or giving people access to the OPML file.
If you have no interest in creating your own, you can instead check to see if any of your Google contacts made their own by going into Google Reader, clicking on Browse for Stuff and looking to see if you have any available shared bundles from your contacts. If you do, enjoy. If not, perhaps you should harass them to make some. 🙂
I think Google has created a really great opportunity for small business owners to get comfortable using RSS, while making it easy to find authoritative blogs to subscribe to and benefit from.
If you’re interested, you can opt in to view my Small Business Blogs bundle, which features 15 or so of my favorite Internet marketing/small business blogs. Maybe it’ll help you get started.
Excellent post. Until now, I wasn’t aware of bundles. It is great to see Google building more value into services like Google Reader. I have subscribed to your shared items. Thanks again.
I have to check out this application. I used Bloglines for a long time. My main place for RSS feeds is now Netvibes. How would you compare and contrast Netvibes, Pageflakes and others with Google Bundle?
Martin: I’ve really only used Bloglines and Google Reader heavily. I used to be a HUGE Bloglines fanatic, but it’s just become unreliable and I eventually had to make the switch to Google Reader. I’m not as fanatic about Google Reader as I was Bloglines, but it does everything I need it to and is reliable — which for me, is worth its wait in gold with all the blog reading I do.
Nice job with this. Maybe it is time for The King to switch to Google Reader, and start bundling some bundles.
One more thing;
Did anyone ever tell you that you are a terrific writer?
The Franchise King
Joel: Just curious, are you using a feedreader now or would Google Reader be your first one?
And, shucks, thanks. 😉
This is a new feature for Google reader that I was unaware of. Thank you for pointing it out. I mainly use NewsGator but occasionally Google reader too. I’m going to have to go in and play around with this now. Anything that makes my life easier is a bonus to me.
Wow, what a fantastic feature. This is the first time I’ve heard of it so thanks for discussin it in detail here.
Having the ability to bundle these together and share them can be quite valuable and I’m glad that they’ve added the feature. I’m going to go work on mine now . .
I have been using FEEDLY as a reader for a while now and it seems to have the same features you’re talking about in this post. Are you aware of feedly? How do you think it rates compares to Google Reader?
So now all i need is someone to summarize all these great RSS feeds and posts. Have you seen any tools to do that? 😉
The bundles make it nice and easy for me to package up the important topics I want to study. I wasn’t aware that they had added this functionality.
Have you seen any great Google Alert tools?? You have your finger on the pulse of things useful, so let me know how us manage your Alerts, too.
Andee: I hadn’t seen Feedly before. It looks like an iGoogle or personalized home page, though, where your feeds are integrated your start page. If you don’t have too many feeds, that would probably work pretty well. I tend to read a lot of blogs so I think my page would be far too cluttered. 🙂
TJ: What are you trying to do with your Google Alerts? I think the Alert is the actual tool. 🙂 Do you get your Alerts via email or RSS? If you’re going get into Google Reader, you can get them via RSS and simply work them into your daily reading list. I’ve had a lot of requests from people asking me how I track mentions/blogs so I actually wrote this post for my other blog (it may be useful):
Thanks Lisa. This is a useful feature for gathering a reading list (haven’t done that yet) and I really like the idea of also adding my Google Alerts via RSS instead of email (to my ‘bundle’) – it’s a challenge to read everything and find what I want when I need it but this may help.
Excellent Lisa. I have long been using google reader for updates but oh please forgive me, I didn’t notice about this bundle thing. Thanks!
Hey that’s a very informative post and a guide on how to use the google reader bundles. The idea introduced by google is great as well. The only point being how SMB’s would be able to tap the maximum out of this service and how much popularity does it gain? The concept as for now looks quite good.
I think it could be a good idea to look into Netvibes for you.
Andee Sellman, One Sherpa: I have installed Feedly in my browswer, but I haven’t used it so much yet. It is popping up related stuff now and then at the bottom of my “message field” of broswer.
TJ: I have been using Google Alerts a bit, for example for philosophical key words like “Ayn Rand” and “Objectivism”. Randex.org is taking care of this news stream for me nowadays! 🙂
What I am searching for is one place, start-page, portal, etc., that is learning my reading behavior and feed me with relevant stuff. I see a combination of Alltop / Netvibes / Amazon’s recommendation tips on what I have read / subscribed to in the past. I wrote a post on this in 2005. Click on “Martin Lindeskog” Says: if you want to read my post, COLLABORATIVE FILTERING SOFTWARE.
I use some email feedages, and some I just add to My Yahoo start page.
G-Reader will be easier and better?
This is a great new feature to add to Google Reader. Makes organizing and finding new and relevant niche blogs much more easier.
Yes. Sonal I’m with you. This was really very informative.
“Life is a great bundle of little things”
A wonderful add on to the popular Google Reader RSS software.
GREAT POST. Can you TURN OFF ACCESS to your bundles? If I create a bundle and share it, anyone can simply subscribe to it, so as far as I can tell I can’t create a bundle and only TEMPORARILY give someone access to it. (Or can you?)