How to Create Google Alerts for the Content You Want

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It’s no secret that Google offers some pretty amazing services. From Gmail to Calendar to Contacts, there’s a lot to love about the Big G. With heavy hitters like these, though, it’s easy to miss some of the lesser-known features that Google has to offer. One of those hidden gems is Google Alerts.

Google Alerts is a service that takes the passive reading of news and turns it into an active search for the exact terms you’re looking for, which is emailed to you on a schedule of your choosing.

Interested in articles about your hometown? Create an alert for its name and now you’ll see anything that Google finds about it. Want to know when a new post about the Apple iWatch is posted? Create an alert to let you know and Google will do the heavy lifting of gathering the links for you.

Since Google Alerts is fairly unknown, here’s how to set it up for yourself, as well as a few interesting uses to get you started.

SEE ALSO: How to Avoid Embarrassment by Recalling Emails in Gmail

Setting Up Google Alerts

First, head over to google.com/alerts and sign in with your Google ID. Next, type the search criteria you want to get alerts for into the search box. You’ll immediately get search results. Check out what’s listed and see if this is indeed the type of information you’re looking for.

Entering search criteria in Google Alerts

If you’re seeing a lot of bad results, you may want to shore up your search query and maybe even place your search term in quotation marks (“Apple iWatch” instead of Apple iWatch) to find only exact matches.

Once you have a search query that you’re happy with, click the Show options link directly under the search box.

Close up of Google Alerts search box and Show Options link

This is where you set the specific criteria not only for the search itself but for how you’re notified.

If you want to know immediately when Google finds a new result for you, set the “How often” option to be As-it-happens and you’ll get a new email for every result. This is only recommended for VERY specific search terms, or else you’ll be flooded with results. Otherwise, At most once a day is perfect. You’ll get no more than one email per day, and none if there are no new results.

The rest of the settings can be changed however you like. You can easily go back and edit them later.

Duplicate contacts killing your productivity? See how Scrubly can help in this 100-second video.

Box showing additional search criteria settings for Google Alerts

When you’re happy with the search criteria, click Create Alert. You should now see a new section on the page titled “My alerts (1)”. This is where all the alerts you create reside. You can edit or delete them whenever you like.

Below this section you’ll see some suggested alerts, including your name and topics like Sports, Apple, and Technology. Set any of these if you like. Just remember you’ll get a separate email for each alert you set.

Quick Tip: Whatever time of day you set or edit an Alert is also the time of day you’ll get the Alert email, so you may want to come back and edit it at the exact time of day you want to get the information.

Suggested content for adding to Google Alerts

Now that you know how to set up Google Alerts, here are a few suggestions on how to make them useful.

SEE ALSO: 6 Useful Tricks for Using OS X Calendar Better

Suggested Google Alerts

Suggestion box on street corner

You and Your Home – Interested to know if anyone is talking about you on the Internet, and if your home address got listed anywhere? Create an alert for your specific address in quotes and a second alert for your exact name in quotes, and you’ll get emails any time they’re mentioned.

Job Hunting – If you’re looking for work, Google Alerts can help you land a job. You can use the service to get immediate emails on new job postings so you’re always among the first to apply. This post goes over the details on how to set it up.

News – If there’s a certain news topic or part of the world you’re interested in, you can set up an alert to let you know whenever it’s mentioned. For example, if you have a friend or family member overseas in the military, set the part of the world they’re in as a Google alert and you can get immediate notification if anything is going on there.

Wrap-Up

We just covered a few basics here, but there are a lot more uses for this amazing tool. Used correctly, Google Alerts can give you the same notifications and information that some PR firms charge a hefty fee for.

Try it out and let us know how it works for you in the comments below.

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