Using Google Alerts

If you want to know when something new is mentioned on the Internet concerning a particular product or subject, you can set up Google alerts to let you know when new content is written about the subject. Google alerts are easy to set up and they can be used to monitor a company's brand or alert the owner of a website any time their page is mentioned by another site. Individuals can use Google alerts to be notified when new content is written on the web about their favorite hobby or movie star.

Google alerts can be sent to one or more email addresses. They can also be read in an RSS reader like Google reader. You will not be notified of everything that is currently on the web. The notifications are triggered when there is new content created or updated.

Google Alerts: Getting Started

First go to This is the initial interface for setting up an alert. If you are not already logged in to a Google account, then you will need to provide an address you want the alert sent to. You do not need to have a Google account to use Google alerts. They will still send the alert to any email address you input.

If you have a Google account and are logged in, then any alert you create can be managed through the Google alerts interface. Your email address (or addresses) will already be propagated in the "Deliver to" box.

Put your search term into the search box. Clicking the "Preview results" link will let you see how your results will look. You can alter your search terms until you get the results you expect. All the normal Google search options are available. This means you can filter out certain terms from your search results getting you just the information you desire.

Google Alerts: Type

This sets up the type of information you are wanting to be notified of. If you are only interested in Twitter mentions then you can set up the Google alert to notify you by choosing Realtime in the drop-down options. Or you can choose to be notified of any mention on the web.

  • Everything: The results are a combination of all of the possible types of alerts.
  • News: Stories that would normally show up on the Google news page.
  • Blogs: Results that specifically come from blog posts.
  • Realtime: Search results from status updates like Twitter and Facebook.
  • Videos: Results from YouTube and other video sharing services.
  • Discussions: Search results from forums, blog posts and other online discussion networks.

Google Alerts: How Often

You may not want to get an email the very second something shows up online. If your search will have just a few results a day, or even less, then setting up an immediate notification will work fine. If, however, you expect to have many results every day, then setting up a daily email may be better.

  • As-it-happens: You will receive an email as soon as Google alerts registers that your search term has been found.
  • Once a day: This is a daily digest that will be emailed to you.
  • Once a week: Like the daily email, it is a weekly compilation of messages.

Google Alerts: Volume

These settings will probably need to be adjusted to get the results you want. One may be too much volume and the other not enough. It would be nice to have some way to choose a level between the two.

  • Only the best results: The alert will only contain what Google alerts determines is the best result. It is unclear how this is determined.
  • All results: This will give you everything with your search term, but it may be filled with unrelated information.

Google Alerts: Deliver To

Here you can tell Google alerts where you want the information sent. You will need to verify the address if you have the service send an alert via email. You can also set up an RSS feed if you are logged in with your Google account. This will send the results straight to your Google reader account.

Google Alerts: Suggestions For How to Use the Service

You can monitor your company name or website. Setting up a Google alert will notify you when customers say good or bad things about your brand. It will help you respond as necessary once you know that there is an unsatisfied customer. You can also reach out to bloggers who have positive things to say about your service by commenting on their posts.

Use Google alerts to see what the web is saying about a certain celebrity. The celebrity may not be well known to the world, but they are important to you. You could even put your own name in the search box and find out what people have to say about you or someone with the same name.

Google alerts can also be used to help you stay on top of certain news events. When a man-made or natural disaster strikes you can set up an alert that will keep you up to date with specific information related to the event and certain people. For example, if you had friends in Haiti when the earthquake devastated that country, you could set up an alert like this to let you know any news or web information about your friend: Haiti +"John Smith".

If you provide a service to people looking for specific information, you can create a Google alert to let you know when someone sends a Twitter message or posts on their blog about the topic. This is especially helpful if you create your search to alert you when there are negative comments. It is a great way to find people who need the help you or your company provides.

You can set up many different Google alerts to be delivered to your inbox or RSS reader. It may be better to have multiple searches sent to you instead of trying to get all the information through one search query.

However you choose to use Google alerts, it is a great service to keep you notified of things that are important to you. It may be industry specific information or local news about your favorite restaurant. One of the best parts of the service is that you don't even have to have a Google account to use this great tool.