3 mins read

Web monitoring by Google Alerts

Scanning the web, so you don’t have to

Yes, the web is big, really big. If you’re like me, you rarely have time on a regular basis to search the web looking for new information on all the topics that interest you.

I’ve previously described the use of RSS to monitor a specific site in that great big ocean of data. But as wonderful as RSS feeds are, their strong point is monitoring sites you already know of, not going out and searching for new hits on your topics of interest.

Google’s new service, Google Alerts, does just that. It regularly searches for your topics and emails you a summery of the latest information based on your interests.


Finding a needle in a haystack

We all know the web is big. Very big.

Searching Google for the term “a” shows a result of 7.8 billion pages, Yahoo reports 10.7 billion. Whatever the number is, there’s a whole lot of pages out there…

With so much information available, the ability to get to the right bits, the information that is important to you, in a timely manner, is essential. Search engines, like Yahoo, Google, MSN, etc., developed over time to be the giants they are for the simple reason that they assist us in finding the things we want in the vastness of cyber space.

But they only work when we’re sitting in front of them. And who has the time to constantly repeat your searches over and over again during the day to find new and updated information? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone do the grunt work for us?

Google Alerts

I guess I’m not the only one wishing for an assistant to weed through results and give me a summary. Google has released (it’s still in Beta) a new service called Google Alerts to help you keep watch. The service is free and easy to sign up for.

You can get updates as they happen, once a day, or once a week. You can monitor the “web” “news” “blogs” “groups” individually, or everything with a “comprehensive” search.

Sure, the service is limited, you can only have 1000 of them…-)

Monitor your interests

I’ve been using Google Alerts to watch several topics and update me daily with what’s new. The email contains familiar text from a search divided into sections for web, news and blogs. (It would appear that the difference between “blog”, “news” and “web” can be somewhat arbitrary – it’s all on the web, but if that’s what google wants to do, that’s what we have to adapt to)

I created a new alert recently to monitor where my new book “The LinkedIn Personal Trainer” pops up on the web. I get notices as sites pick it up – without effort on my part, I just have to scan the email it sends me.

Setting up a new alert is very simple – creating a strategy for what you want to watch – that might take a little time;-)

What’s in it for them?

Google is all about searching – They keep their users happy and learn what’s of interest.

The tool is free and easy to use – so what’s stopping you from using Google Alerts today?