Google Alerts

This is a free service offered by Google that notifies you by email or RSS feed about the latest Google results that match your search terms.

Imagine you have a Google Search which you run again and again and in between each set of results new items appear.  These are the items Google Alerts will pickup and notify you about.

So what would you monitor?

Well, anything that can be defined in a search term.  For instance, you could:

  • monitor your name or organisation
  • stay up-to-date on a specific subject
  • receive the latest news on a current topic
  • monitor your competition
  • find new useful stuff

Basically, it’s a great tool for bringing relevant content to you instead of you having to look for it.  In that respect it can be an efficient time saver.

Setting up an alert (http://www.google.com/alerts)

Creating an alert is fairly easy and you don’t necessary need a Google account either but it’s probably recommended as it will make managing your email and rss feed alerts a lot easier.

An alert has the following properties:

  • Search term – keywords, same as a Google search
  • Type – news, blogs, web, comprehensive, video, groups
  • How often – as-it-happens, once a day, once a week
  • Email length – up to 20 results, up to 50 results
  • Deliver to – email, feed
Google Alert

Google Alert

The alert property box can be displayed vertically or horizontally.  The properties are self-explanatory, but the alert’s success and relevancy will depend on the search term.  You can enter the same search criteria here as you would the normal Google search box.  For example, you can wrap keywords in quotes to narrow your search.  If you feel you need to do this then it may be simpler to use Google’s Advanced Search page as a helper in writing your search criteria.

Here’s how:

  1. On the Google home page click Advanced Search
  2. Review the different boxes and their purpose
  3. Enter your search keywords
  4. Select any relevant options from the dropdowns
  5. Click the Advanced Search button
  6. The Google search page appears with your keywords in the search box, but with additional syntax
  7. Run the search to make sure the results are what you expect
  8. If yes, then copy the contents of the search box and paste it into the Search Terms box on the alerts page
  9. If no, then return to the advanced search page by clicking the Advanced Search link and modify your criteria.

Useful Resources:

If you have clever uses for Google Alerts please let us know.

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