Ever wanted to know what people are saying about you on the web? The great news is that there is a fantastic and free way. With the advent of Google Caffeine, Google now updates its indexes very fast, with new pages becoming available within days or hours of them being posted on the internet. It can get pretty hard to remember to keep track of what’s out there!
The really good news is that Google have provided a fantastically useful tool called “Google Alerts”. A Google Alert will send you an email when a new match for a search term appears on the web. So for instance, we have a Google Alert, funnily enough, on “White Dog Green Frog”. Recently I posted an article on one of the web hosting forums and was quite surprised to receive a Google Alert for that post only 6 hours afterwards!
Funnily enough, setting up a Google alert is actually pretty easy. To set one up:
- Set up a Google account – eg at gmail.com, if you haven’t already (simply visit www.gmail.com and follow the sign up links)
- Go to the Alerts home page in Google (search for alerts and click the top result “Google Alerts …”)
- Enter your search term, the type (News, or just Everything) and fill out the remaining fields
- Click on save and wait for the emails to roll in
You’ll almost certainly want to modify the results over time, if only to avoid false matches, or to batch your emails up (say, into once a week), and you can do that by clicking links in the emails that are sent to you, or by clicking the “Manage” link on the Google Alerts home page at step 2 above. For instance, I have a very good saxophone player with my name who plays in New Orleans, and to avoid getting regular emails about his musical exploits, I might change my alert to be “Brian Coogan -Orleans -saxophone” to reduce some of the noise. The two – terms exclude anything also matching the following strings. In fact, anything that would work in a normal Google search will work, and you can find out the options for those by clicking on “Advanced Search” from the normal google.com search page.
If the regular alerts annoy you, what we do is to set up a rule to file new alerts in a folder and then you can go back and periodically browse them without needing to be annoyed by them on a daily basis. The nice thing about this is that it also keeps an online history that you can search.