Google has a blog search engine (www.blogsearch.google.com) that indexes blogs created after June 2005. You can keep up to date by subscribing to the search results using a link at the bottom of the page. Google Alerts (www.google.com/ alerts) notifies you by e-mail when new information is published to Google's news-monitoring service or Web search index. It's fast but won't always give you blog entries. Blogger Web Comments for Firefox (www.google.com/tools/firefox/ webcomments/index.html) is a new tool that lets you search for blog entries about any site while you're looking at the site. It appears as a small button in the corner of the browser.
Technorati (www.technorati.com), one of the leading blog search engines, lets you set up watch lists to monitor blog activity around any keyword. Visit the tag section to see entries in specific areas where bloggers have self-identified an interest. Feedster.com searches blogs and also podcasts, which are the audio equivalent of blogs. If you want to search podcasts alone, podscope.com claims its secret technology indexes keywords within podcasts. Icerocket.com will find photos on the blogs it indexes. Its Trend Tool shows a graphical display of blog activity on topics of your choice.
Technorati.com also maintains a list of the top 100 most popular blogs in its search index. Feedster publishes a monthly list of the 500 "most interesting and important blogs." By checking these lists occasionally you can see who's watching your market.
Pubsub.com lets you "subscribe" to search terms that are constantly matched against new entries in its blog database.
Talk Digger (www.talkdigger.com) is a new entry that aggregates searches from multiple blog search engines and ranks the results by link popularity.
Opinmind.com classifies blog search results by bias and displays a sentiment rating defined by the number of positive and negative opinions it finds. Topix.net is a media search engine that also indexes blogs, allowing you to mix conventional and new media results together.
If you have money to spend and see bloggers as potential market research sources, several paid services are making it to market. In November, IBM Corp. introduced Public Image Monitoring Solution, software that scours search results, including blog activity, to give you a finer view of the market. The customized software, which is produced in conjunction with Nstein Technologies and Dow Jones' Factiva, costs about $150,000 for a large enterprise, according to an IBM spokeswoman.
Fingers on the blog pulse
Blogpulse is a new component in Intelliseek Inc.'s Brandpulse Internet monitoring service. The service sifts through Internet information continuously to derive statistics and trends about market behavior. The average contract is about $75,000, an Intelliseek spokeswoman said.
Biz360 Inc. and Feedster.com recently teamed up on an analytics dashboard that identifies "meaningful and actionable" blog activity about any topic tracked in Feedster's database. Pricing starts at $15,000 annually.
Cymfony Inc.'s Orchestra service monitors both mainstream and social media, and provides a variety of analytical tools for measuring brand awareness and perception. A unique feature offers side-by-side analysis of coverage in both kinds of media. The subscription with standard reporting starts at $45,000 per year, and project pricing is available.
BuzzMetrics USA has high-end analysis and advisory services that track word-of-mouth activity in a variety of media, including blogs. The firm adds extensive custom consulting to its basic products and contracts can run $30,000 and up, according to a spokesman.
With new products and services hitting the market almost daily, this list will expand quickly. The bottom line: The blogosphere is growing in size and influence but so are the tools to organize and make sense of it.