There are ways to monitor changes and updates to your favorite websites, blogs, social networks, classifieds, and local business listings (including Google Places pages) – without having to watch the Web 24/7 or pressing the Refresh button every minute. And while RSS is today’s most popular way of syndicating content automatically, not all websites have it. (And not all users prefer it.)
That’s where this list comes in: to be able keep up with what’s happening (in real-time) on any place across the entire Web; to monitor what customers and competitors alike are doing and saying; and to listen and respond to reviews and feedback as they are generated.
Here are some of today’s best tools for monitoring changes to any website.
Page2RSS is a free service that lets you create feeds for web pages you wish to follow or monitor – pages, specifically, that are static or don’t offer any RSS/Atom feeds. Page2RSS also serves as a way to track the changes / updates on a web page, and can convert Google Reader feeds (which don’t have a change-tracking feature) for migrating these to Page2RSS.
Here’s how it works: just enter the URL of the page you want to monitor and Page2RSS will start monitoring it for updates. It will generate a link that you can then paste to any feed reader.
While Page2RSS doesn’t offer its own RSS reader (you’ll have to use your own preferred app for that), it does offer the most common subscription options, such as Google Reader, Bloglines, My Yahoo!, Netvibes, and E-mail, among others.
Page2RSS also has the ability to post feed updates directly to your Twitter account. There’s also a couple of time-saving features, like the Page2RSS bookmarklet (for creating feeds that will track changes on a website you’re currently browsing) and a Google Chrome extension, which lets you find RSS feeds on a web page, or create one from the Chrome URL address bar if there isn’t any.
One of the most comprehensive website-tracking tools today, Versionista provides accurate comparisons of any page’s current content and its previous versions. A free account lets you monitor 5 URLs, with the ability to archive previous versions of a page; various filtering options like “Ignore HTML”, “Ignore style sheets”, “Ignore numeric pages”, “Ignore bottom 25% of the page”, meanwhile, improve the quality of notifications.
Subscription can be expensive, however: it starts at $59 a month for Premier (200 URLs) and can cost as much as $499 a month forEnterprisePlus (2,500 URLs).
- Hourly URL monitoring option
- Option to send nightly E-mail notifications when changes are found
- A number of filtering options
- Side-by-side graphical comparisons
- Enterprisesolutions that monitor PDF documents
Femtoo is a webpage-tracking and notification tool that doesn’t need RSS or Atom feeds. With a Free, Solo, or Premium account, you get to choose how you’re notified of changes and updates to a page you’re monitoring: by E-mail, Notifo (a mobile notification service), Email distribution list (great for bigger companies and enterprises), instant messenger, and URL callback.
Femtoo appears to be one of the most comprehensive and flexible Web-based webpage tracking solutions today, with features like:
- Low-latency 24/7 webpage tracking (as often as every 30 minutes)
- An intelligent warning system that informs you when a page stucture has changed or is no longer available
- Filters (or “notification rules”) that enhance the quality of change detection
- Unique ‘point and click’ visual content selection (for tracking complex pages such as
- those with iframes)
- Option to receive group notifications or individual E-mails
- Visual reports of tracker data
- AHolidaymode for pausing individual, or all, trackers
- Multi-language support
Solo Plans are at $1.60 a month, while Premium Plans cost $4.80 monthly. Both plans give you an unlimited number of trackers, and a check interval that’s as fast as every 30 minutes. Premium Plans, additionally, can E-mail notifications to as many as 1,000 addresses, compared to the five addresses allowed in Solo Plans.
Follow That Page is much simpler than Versionista, but it gets the job done – and check 100 pages a day – for free. Upgrading to a Pro Account gives you to perform 1,000 daily checks, 20 hourly checks, and 5 10-minute checks. Notification of changes is sent via E-mail, in straightforward fashion.
A feature called “Batch Form” lets you monitor multiple pages from one domain all at once, while a couple of filtering options – line filters and block filters – ignore website changes that are not useful to you.
Update Scanner is a Mozilla Firefox Add-on that monitors Web pages for updates and changes. It is free to use, and can be customized so that it checks the websites being monitored for as often as every five minutes. (The Update Scanner checks once a day by default.) When a change is detected, a notification window is displayed; clicking it will show the Update Scanner sidebar, with updated Web pages shown in bold.
The biggest and most obvious limitation is that Update Scanner is a Firefox Add-on, and cannot be used with other Web browsers.
Update Scanner Features:
- Monitoring of web pages that don’t offer RSS feeds (like Google Places pages)
- Ability to select how each page will be scanned
- Changes to pages highlighted automatically
- Option to ignore minor updates
- International support