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google-alerts-tipsFor most of us web workers Google is almost a simile for a spade. I would be treading on much furrowed ground if I were to hail the power of Google search. I don’t need to but the search engine has another little offshoot called Google Alerts which is of interest to those seeking information of a prompt nature. Optimally tuned with the correct search string, Google Alerts becomes a speeding bullet for targeting precise data.

For those who have come in late, Google Alerts is nothing but ’email updates’ (and now RSS feeds too!) of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. It distills the results from the first 20 or so pages of its search engine results and sends you the alert. It simply allows us to automate our search, setting it just once instead of doing it every day.

For a freelancer, Google Alerts can become a homing missile in his or her arsenal. So here are some ways I use the service to save me lots of time and the dimes on my caffeine.

    (1) Walk around the writer’s block – Get fresh ideas to write on.

    The obvious…but for us keyboard tappers, Google Alerts are a fountain of fresh topics to write on. Simply, set up an alert on your area of interest and let the breaking news trickle (sometimes it’s a deluge) into your mail box.

    (2) Be in step with your niche – Get the news delivered to your inbox.

    A fine-tuned alert updates us on what’s happening where. New beta announcements, new software launches, new posts get indexed by the search spider and Google sends out the alert. For instance, set up a Google news alert with this – Windows source:cnet (delivers Windows related news from CNET.com).

    (3) Become a cyber paparazzi – Become an ardent follower.

    We all have our favorite blogrolls, our favorite authors or we just want to slaver over Brangelina. A specific keyword in the search query box allows us to note when and where any relevant snippet gets published. Follow them around on blogs, news websites and even on Twitter. For instance I follow some of my favourite blog authors through the blogosphere with this simple query – inpostauthor:Seth Godin [Alert Type: Blogs]

    (4) Use it as a job scout – Go where ‘no freelancer has gone before’.

    Life for a freelancer often means a 24×7 job hunt.  Jump ahead of the queue with just-in-time alerts. It could easily be on an obscure site not on your feed list. Sometimes major events in a company could signal an opportunity for the freelancer. Especially during a recession when a company looks to retrench its rolls with outsourced work. Seek, prepare and apply. Google Alerts is a powerful tool if set up with your skills matched to your niche.

    (5) Proof the future – Prepare a job directory.

    I try to take my job hunt a bit further by using the job postings as a future source of reference. Keeping a list of sites where jobs usually crop up means I have a prepared database to bank on when my well runs dry. Bookmark them, tag them, or put them on an Excel file or just a notebook. A ready list saves time and hassle.

    (6) Climb up the SERP – Do your own SEO.

    Page rankings revolve around keywords. Bring out your own list of keywords and see which sites rank near the top for those phrases. A look at the content of those websites will help you not only give you knowledge but also a bunch of other keywords to use. This is a precursor to the next activity.

    (7) Be with the crowd – Take your work to the community.

    A visit for information is just so casual. We can increase the interactivity with our niche by using the power of comments. A well thought out (polite, please!) comment with a backlink/trackback/linkback to your own article/blog helps to build a community on the web. Using something like Trailfire helps to find relevant forums where you can contribute. Make sure they allow linking. Such peer to peer communication not only brings in additional information to a post but also helps to generate traffic.

    (8) Spot the spotter – Know when Google finds you.

    When you are delivering content like there’s no tomorrow and like to know when Google indexes the page (and how popular you just became), Google Alert notifications enable instantaneous tracking. Use a unique line of text from a page as a Google Alert search term.

    (9) Do some ego-googling – Manage your reputation.

    On the web everything is permanent. Both positive feedback and acerbic comments. Use Google Alerts to see where your name crops up or if someone links to your blog. Somethings deserve a thank you…but I wouldn’t tell you what to do with an acidic barb. It also helps to keep tabs on your profile by removing long forgotten mentions on other websites. And just for fun see if there’s a personality clash with Googlegangers (namesakes)!

    (10) Catch the copycats – Defeating plagiarism.

    Copyscape is good but add Google Alerts to it. Make up some unique phrase or keyword combination. Put it somewhere in the article (preferably, towards the end)…and wait for the fly to catch.

Some Tips to Manage Google Alerts –

    * Get friendly with Google search queries. There are specialized search queries for news and blogs too. For instance, Blog search has specialized queries like – [inblogtitle:], [inposttitle:], [inpostauthor:], [blogurl:]

    * Alternatively, you can use the Advanced Search in Google Search to create a search parameter and copy it to your alert.

    * Google has introduced RSS Feeds option to deliver alert results. It is a more compact option to the earlier email only option.

    * If email is the choice choose HTML mails. You are always a click away from the source.

    * Get accurate results by putting quotes around your search terms.

    * Choose ‘Comprehensive’ as Google Alert Type for getting results across the web, news, blogs and groups.

    * Choosing ‘once a week’ in the ‘How Often’ dropdown prevents clutter in your mailbox or feed reader.

Old world searching is passé`. It’s time to sit back and let the results come in on their own.

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How do you use Google Alerts? Maybe a tip from you could add another to those mentioned.

  1. eCareerbay
    April 25, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Hi admin,

    eCareerBay is an online platform for employers/recruiters to hire quality talent and for job seekers to search and apply for their dream jobs. I like your blogs.

    Thanks

  2. Adam Green
    April 16, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    You are right on target in recommending that people use Google Alerts to track the SEO ratings of their competition, but how do you know who Google considers your competition? Here's a cool procedure I use:
    1. Set up a Google Alert with related:[yoururl.com]. This will tell you whenever Google finds a site with the same keyword and link pattern as yours.

    2. When this delivers a new site, start monitoring their inbound links with link:[competingurl.com] -site:[competingurl.com]. This will tell you when someone links to that competitor.

    3. Contact the site that gave a link to your competitor and see if they'll link to your site as well.

    I've collected hundreds of similar tips in a free Google Alerts marketing tutorial:
    http://www.alertrank.com/google-alerts-marketing.html

    Feel free to send me your Google Alerts questions on Twitter. I'm @MrGoogleAlerts.

  3. Yannick
    January 15, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Awesome post, I was searching for how to show up, but I see I can make more from it by using it better.

    It still leaves me a doubt, you say that google will find your content at some point in time, but on the other hand you say you use it to be ahead of competition by receiving "to the minute" news. How can you differentiate both.

    Does it mean that even if I have news corresponding to my alert not showing yet, it's possible they will show later ?

    • Saikat
      January 16, 2009 at 10:49 am

      Hi Yannick,
      We have so many websites out there...it's not possible to track them all. One way is through feeds and the second way is by using Google alerts. Set it up with keywords for the info you are searching for. For instance in my case it could be "freewares" or "free software". I have got some pretty good sites through that which otherwise eI would have missed. Think of it as Google search on auto-pilot.

  4. sayyad
    December 30, 2008 at 9:32 am

    I am working photoshop

  5. magnoliasouth
    November 11, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Excellent post! I use it for my name to see what crops up, and also for current events that interest me. One thing I'm trying to work on, and haven't come up with a successful solution yet, is to have it notify me of non-recurring TV shows (or classic films) that are coming on TV stations that I get.

    For example. I love Columbo. Yep, I'm a geek! ;) It used to routinely come on Bravo, and maybe it still does, but I now live in an area where our stinky cable doesn't even get Bravo. I mean, who does NOT get Bravo?! Also, while Columbo was a so-called TV show, they're all actually movies. Anyway, my frustration is that I can't even favorite it as a show at places like TV Guide and Zap2it because it's not technically a TV show.

    My goal is to try and find a syntax that will search TV listings and let me know when the keyword "columbo" hits. There have been sites that have come and gone that searched for shows for you and emailed you when they found one, but the only ones I knew about have since died.

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing what others use it for.

    • Saikat Basu
      November 11, 2008 at 11:26 pm

      You can try the Google Video Search. Go to advanced search preferences and play around with it.And you can also set alerts for it. For instance, Adv Prefs allows you to search by domain. Maybe you can include the channel websites as a parameter. Often channel sites put up small 'trailers' as a program preview. The search can catch that. You can set an alert from the main page of video search or go to Adv Pref. Hope this helps.

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