How do you find just the information you need on the internet?
Do you find yourself searching for the same things every week or even every few days?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could put the search engines to work for you and have them send you the information you are looking for almost as soon as it appears online?
With Google Alerts you can. Google Alerts are email messages that are automatically sent to you when there are new items online that match your search terms.
I use Google Alerts to bring me all the news online about my area, to find out if anyone has mentioned my name online, to follow a news story that is important to me and to learn of accomplishments of people that I care about.
Let me give you an example. Since I live in North Berwick, Maine and some of the surrounding towns are Berwick and South Berwick, I set up a Google Alert for the phrase, “Berwick, Maine”. Notice that I put the phrase in quotes, this is so that I will only get alerts when both the words, Berwick and Maine are used together. Otherwise, I would probably be overwhelmed with every article that mentions the state of Maine.
I also have a Google Alert set up for my name, “Elizabeth Boston”. Again, I put my name in quotes so that both my first and last name have to appear online in order to trigger the alert.
Every morning, I open my email and can check on the latest online news that I am interested in.
If this sounds like a good idea to you, lets get started creating your first alert.
First, you need to go to the Google Alerts web page at: www.google.com/alerts
Here you will see a small form, and a little bit of information about the alerts.
Setting up your alert is done entirely in the small form, so we will take a closer look at that.
The first section of the Google Alert form that you want to fill in is the topic that you want to monitor. It is called the “Search Terms”. This is where you will enter the text that you want to watch out for. If you are searching for a person, put their name, in quotation marks in the “Search terms:” box. For example, I want to see if my name is mentioned online, so I put “Elizabeth Boston” in the box.
Notice in the picture above that I included the quotation marks. This tells Google that I only want to see items that include the entire search term. Otherwise, I would get an alert for every new item that mentioned Boston.
Next, you want to select the type of alerts you want sent to you. Click the drop down list next to, “Type” and you will have the following items to choose from:
News: A news alert searches online news articles for your search term, and alerts you with a link to the articles when it finds them.
Blogs: A blog alert searches the latest blog posts for your search term.
Web: A web alert searches new web pages for your term.
Comprehensive: A comprehensive alert combines the results from News articles, Blogs, and web pages.
Video: A video alert will contain links to the latest videos online that match your search term.
Groups: Google Groups is a free service from Google where groups of people have discussions about common interests. A Groups alert will contains links to discussions that contain your search term.
I usually choose a comprehensive type of alert, that way I get all the news, blog and web results for my search term.
Now that you have chosen the type of alert, you want to select how often you want to receive them. Click on the drop down list next to, “How often:” and you will have the following to choose from
Once a day: This is my favorite option. The alerts seem to come in overnight and I can check up on then first thing in the morning.
As-it-happens: Watch out if you pick this setting. If your search term is a popular one, you could be getting lots of email alerts.
Once a week: I don’t think I have ever used this setting. Who wants to be alerted about something a week after it happens?
Once you have entered your search term, and selected the type and frequency of your alerts, all you have left to do is type in your email address and click the “Create Alert” button.
You will see a page telling you that your alert has been created and informing you of one last step. Check your email, and click on the link to verify your Google Alert request.
If you already have an account with Google, just log into that account before going to www.google.com/alerts and you will be able to create, delete and manage your Alerts right from the web page.
Google allows you to have up to 1000 alerts, so have fun and stay up to date about the subjects that interest you.