Believe you can and you’re halfway there. – Theodore Roosevelt

Making Google Work For You – A look at Google Alerts

Ever wonder who’s writing about you? Ever think that someone may be writing about you and you want to know the who/what and where of it all? Perhaps you want to keep track of certain keywords that you may be focusing on with your web site or blog. Google Alerts can help by notifying you when those key words are indexed by the Googlebot.

I recently began using Google Alerts Google Alerts help you keep track of who is writing about you in earnest and now I’m kicking myself for not understanding and using it earlier than I have. Google Alerts allows you to be notified by email whenever certain keywords are indexed by Google. You tell Google what you are interested in by specifying keywords, and Google will give you updates on the use of those keywords by email.

Note! To do any of this, you will need a Google account. If you don’t have an account, you can create your own Google account in a few easy steps.

How to use Google Alerts

We should first take a look at the administrative interface. Here’s what the administrative interface looks like:

The google alerts administrative interface

You’ll notice that I can add a New Alert and delete an existing one using the buttons at the bottom.

When you add a new alert, you type in the keywords you want to use. This is the same as what you would look for if you typed in some keywords right into Google Search. The only difference here is that Google will do the search for you and email you whenever your specified keywords are added to the search index.

How I Use Google Alerts

If you look at what I’m alerted to in the image above, you’ll see that I am using the keywords ‘waynejohn’ and ‘wayne john’. The reason I use ‘waynejohn’ is to be alerted to anyone linking to my site, or referring to my site in text somewhere on the Internet.

The keywords ‘wayne john’ give me much more than just myself due to the space between them. I also get a ton of ‘John Wayne’ stuff as well. The duke seems to be a greater influence on the Internet than myself, and rightly so. :)

I can also specify the ‘type’ of search I want those keywords to be run under. The available options as of the time I am writing this are: News, Blogs, Web, Comprehensive, Video and Groups. I’m using comprehensive since I don’t want to limit the search to any one particular subset, or type, of Internet information.

The How often selection indicates how often I’d like to be alerted on this particular keyword. For ‘wayne john’, you’ll see that I have selected once a day. That’s primarily due to the ‘John Wayne’ factor in the results. The Duke is constantly being written about or referred to, so instead of getting it ‘as-it-happens’, I’ve decided that once a day is fine. I also get any text with both John and Wayne in the body, but not necessarily side by side.

That’s not true for the keyword ‘waynejohn’ however. I want to get those alerts as they happen, since they are most likely related to some activity of mine, or someone writing about me. If you write about it and use that keyword, I’ll know as soon as Google comes to index your site. (and the time it take for Google to generate the email and for that email to reach me)

The only other choice for the how often column is ‘once a week’. Perhaps if things go ballistic and I start getting bombed with Google alerts I’ll change to once a week. For now, I’m all set with what I want to keep track of.

I would show a sample of what the alerts look like when you receive them, but they are nothing more than receiving a list of search results in your email.

What Has Become of My Alerts?

Since I have started using this service, I have found others on the Internet named the same as I, Wayne John. I have also found a couple blogs that have referenced my site, and that allowed me to comment and thank them for the reference, pro-actively! Both were quite surprised with the speed that I commented back after they had reference my site. I would say it made a good, positive impression.

I Highly Recommend It

If you are a serious blogger and are trying to hone your blog into any specific niche, then you would probably be well served by getting updates from Google on the keywords that matter to you. I don’t pay much attention, perhaps in error, to other search engines. Google seems to bring enough traffic my way. So, there may be similar services on Yahoo!, MSN and other search engines that I’m not aware of.

Have you been using Google Alerts? If so, what has been your experience and do you find it as valuable as I do? If you have not, you should check it out today.

* The little bell image is probably copyright by Google, so props to them.

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