Imagine this: Each time anyone in the world mentions your company, client, products, or whatever else you want to keep track of on the Internet, Google Alerts will send you an email telling you about it. For free!
Google publishes a number of really handy free tools, one of which is Google Alerts. Of all the Google tools on offer, clearly ‘search’ is the most useful. But after that, I’d have to say that Google Alerts is my favourite. Google Alerts are emails automatically sent to you when there are new Google results for your search terms. So you tell Google Alerts what words or phrases you want to track, and Google Alerts informs you via email each time something is published that mentions those keywords. Google Alerts currently offers alerts with results from News, Web, Blogs, Video and Groups.
So, for example, you may want to keep track of your company name, so that each time someone publishes something on the web that contains your company name, you receive an alert. You may also want to keep tabs on your products, your competitors, your major clients, a developing story, or even your favourite sports team.
You can create up to ten alerts at a time using the Google Alerts home page. Once you confirm your alerts, you can create more. You can create up to 1000 alerts. To create more than 1000 alerts, you can either delete any existing alerts or request alerts to be sent to a different email address. But remember that you can only have up to 10 unverified Alerts at any given time. Quite frankly, though, with 1000 alerts you won’t have the time to process the feedback!
So how do you sign up? Simply visit the Google Alerts home page, enter your search, the type of alert you'd like (News, Web, Video etc.), how often you'd like Google Alerts to check for results, and your email address. When you're done, click the 'Create Alert' button. Google Alerts will send you a confirmation email, and clicking the link in this email will activate your Alert. You can create and confirm your Alert in one visit on your "Manage Your Alerts" page. To access this page, you'll need to sign in to your Google Account. If you don't yet have an account, visit the Google Accounts home page to create one. Don’t be put off by the word “Account”. Google Alerts is free, and so is your Google account!
The frequency you select when you set up your alert determines how often Google Alerts checks for new results, not necessarily how often you'll receive alerts. If you select "once a day," Google Alerts will check for new results once a day, which means you'll get a maximum of one email per day. If you choose the "as it happens," Google Alerts will check for new results continuously and send you an alert whenever it finds a new result.
Here are some testimonials from Google Alerts, which will give you some other ideas on how to make use of Alerts:
“I truly love Google Alert - I've subscribed to alert services before but none have really returned any relevant results. Google alerts returns extremely relevant results. I use the results constantly and have come to rely on the service to keep me up to date."
"Very useful service. I am finding references to my company that I was not aware of as well as numerous web sites covering my area of interest that I had not seen before."
"Google Alert is a must-have service. I use it to ensure I am immediately aware of all new research grant programs that are relevant to my clients. This gives them maximum time to prepare and maximum opportunity to succeed."
"Your service is indispensible to any publisher on the web. Google Alert has let us know about copyright infringements, great reviews about our site, and stuff we'd NEVER find on our own! Keep up the great work!"
"I like this site to be able to follow what is happening in the electronics industry."