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I write a blog. I'm not really interested in search-engine optimization or social media marketing, but I am curious when people link, read and comment about things I write away from my blog itself. I want an easy way of finding these things. I don't care about auto-submitting to sites, or anything like that. I also don't care about any statistics: I just want to know where the action is!

For example, right now, I have cobbled together RSS feeds including:

  • Twitter searches for my blog's name
  • Reddit aggregate for any link to my domain

But, for example, I always miss whenever my blog is posted to Hacker News, which is no fun since Hacker News discussions tend to be quite good. And, of course, I want to find out about discussions in places that I’ve never even heard of before. (I just signed up for Google Alerts, maybe that will help, maybe not. Google doesn't seem to be particularly realtime.)

It seems to me there ought to be free services that do this sort of thing. But "social analytics" seems to be the wrong word, since that implies aggregation and data, and that's not really what I want. What am I looking for?

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4 Answers 4

Google alerts will tell you whenever Google finds and indexes pages that meet criteria set forth by you. In other words you can have Google email you whenever they find a page that mentions your website.

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Right. But Google tends to be kind of late on the ball when it comes to realtime indexing. –  Edward Z. Yang Jun 5 '11 at 12:47
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They're faster then anyone else. –  John Conde Jun 5 '11 at 13:37

There are places that do this, such as StartPR and Trackur, but they're generally not going to be free. Realistically, this sort of activity is something much more likely be undertaken by people willing to spend some money for it than casual users. You seem to be expecting real-time and free, and not factoring that "scan the entire web" (more or less) comes before that; it's just not going to happen.

If you do find a completely free service, it's probably going to be pretty severely limited: compare the two above and look at how little–comparatively–their cheapest plans provide. Trackur does have a somewhat hidden free option, with even fewer features, only one topic and, notably, "slower updates."

It takes a lot of work to do this sort of thing: it's not just collection, but significant filtering to get you relevant results. Also a lot of access eg. to "firehose" data from the original sources that they may be paying for and passing on to you. This is why if you want free, you're probably going to be stuck cobbling together a bunch of feeds yourself.

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Thanks for the pragmatic comment. I'll look into your suggestions. –  Edward Z. Yang Jun 5 '11 at 21:00

Many blog software applications like Wordpress have support for pingbacks or linkbacks. These are handy things that notify when someone else links back to your content. Look into setting those up on your site so that you can automatically be notified when it happens.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linkback

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pingback

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Wordpress appears to support Pingbacks by default. I'll look into Linkbacks. –  Edward Z. Yang Jun 5 '11 at 20:59

Clicky is a real-time web analytics service with a "spy" panel lets you see a live report of incoming links. You can see their live demo here.

Woopra also offers real-time web analytics with a live dashboard that displays active referrers to show new traffic sources live.

Google Alerts can be good too. Use the link:yoursite.com search format and the following settings. As John says, it's pretty speedy, but if you want to know instantly when you're being talked about, use a real-time analytics service.

Google alerts

Note that Google Analytics offers basic referrer information too, but not in real-time, and it often fails to show the exact page traffic was referred from (only the domain).

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