Mine Internet Data Like a Pro with Google Alerts

Google has a slew of cool tools.  One of them—Google Alerts—can let you know what bloggers, the press, and even the general public are saying about you or any topic of your choosing.

Google Alerts
While Twitter is an excellent source of info about what people are talking about, someone has to put it in a tweet in order for it to be picked up.  But Google Alerts let you “follow” stories that no one is tweeting about yet.  It also lets you follow stories that are of interest to you, but may not catch the attention of others on the Internet.

Use Google Alerts to

  • Listen out for good (or bad news) about you or your company
  • Generate intelligence on what your competition is doing
  • Find items of interest to tweet about
  • Follow a news story that interests you
  • Get up-to-the-minute information on changes in interest rates, the housing market, zoning laws, or anything else that impacts your business

Here’s how it works:  You enter a search term in Google Alerts.  When a news story, blog post, or video is added to the Internet that would appear among the top ten search results to someone using that search term, Google will alert you.

For example, let’s say you want to be alerted when anything new happens with the first-time home buyers tax credit.

  1. Go to www.google.com/alerts
    enter your search term
  2. Enter the exact words you would use if you were searching for it on Google, in this case:  “first time home buyers tax credit”.
  3. Enter the type of content you want to be alerted about.  For example, do you want to know when there’s a new news story, a new blog post, or some other kind of written content on the Internet?  Choose “comprehensive” if you want to be alerted about all three.  You can also be alerted if someone uploads a new video about your topic (choose “video”) or if your topic appears in a new e-mail aggregate (choose “group”).
  4. Enter how often you want Google to check for new items:  once a week, once a day, or continuously.  If you want Google to check continuously, choose “as-it-happens”.
  5. Enter your Google e-mail address (You must have a Google account to use Google Alerts).  If you use Google Reader and you prefer to have your alerts sent to you as a feed rather than via e-mail, select “feed”.
  6. Click “Create Alert”.

Once you log in to your Google e-mail account and confirm, your alerts will start coming to you.  Because you checked “as-it-happens” you may start getting alerts right away.  And because you checked that you wanted them to come to your e-mail, your alerts will look like the example below.  Here you see links to two news stories about the first-time home buyers tax credit that popped into your e-mail inbox within minutes of setting up your alerts.

alert e-mails

Keep in mind that you’ll only be alerted when there’s something new on the Internet that would appear among the top search results.  If you don’t ever get any alerts, it’s because there’s nothing new, because there’s nothing new that comes up high enough in a Google search, or because your search term isn’t very good.  You can always go in to Google alerts and make changes.  To do that:

  1. Go to http://www.google.com/alerts.
  2. edit alerts

  3. Click the link that lets you edit your alerts.
  4. Select the alert you want to edit and make your changes.

To delete an alert, simply check the box next to it and click the delete button.
How might you use Google Alerts?


One response to “Mine Internet Data Like a Pro with Google Alerts

  1. Pingback: Blog Carnival: Exposing others to Your Audience | The Web and You

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