Google Alerts: What They Are, How to Make One

Keep up with news that's relevant to you, without searching for it

news alerts

Want to track a particular topic and have all the information that bubbles up in the news be automatically delivered to you in any time frame you specify? You can do this quite easily with Google Alerts, a simple way to set up automatic delivery notices to yourself on any topic you might be interested in. 

For example, say you want to be notified every time a prominent sports figure is mentioned online. Instead of taking the time to search for this person when you remember - potentially missing out on information simply because you forgot - you can just set up an automatic news feed that will scour the Web for any mentions of this person, and deliver them right to you. The only effort on your part will be to simply set up the alert and then your part is done. 

Screenshot of the Google Alerts page showing Alert Options when creating a Google Alert.
Screenshot, Google.

How to set up a Google Alert

  1. Here's how it works. Navigate to the Google Alerts web page and enter a search term. You define the topic by setting any number of keywords and phrases that retrieve the type of news you want.

  2. Next, select Show Options to adjust:

    • How often you want to receive your alerts;
    • The language you want to receive alerts in;
    • The types of websites you want included in the alert;
    • What regions you want included in the alert;
    • The email address you'd like to receive these alerts at.
  3. Once you've finished selecting the desired options, click Create Alert to set the alert and begin receiving automatic emails on your chosen topic.

If you're looking for someone or something that tends to get mentioned quite often, be prepared for a lot of information in your inbox; if you're looking for someone who perhaps is not mentioned quite as much, the opposite, of course, is true. 

Google will now send the news alerts you have chosen to your email inbox, at the rate you want, from once a day, once a week, or as the news happens. Google has access to literally thousands of news sources, and when you need a variety of sources on one subject, Google always delivers.

Once you have the Google Alert set up, it starts almost immediately to work. You should start seeing information in your email inbox on whatever time basis you've designated (most people prefer daily, but it's completely up to you how you structure your alerts). Now, instead of remembering to look for this topic, you'll get information delivered to you automatically. This is especially useful for all sorts of situations; researching a particular topic that is being updated, following a political candidate or election event, etc. You can even set up an alert to notify you anytime your own name is mentioned online via news or websites; if you have any sort of public profile, this can come in handy if you're attempting to build a resume or simply would like to keep track of your public mentions in news, magazines, newspapers, or other resources online. 

Google also has started giving suggestions for interesting topics you might be interested in setting up alerts for and following; these range from Finance to Automobiles to Politics to Health. Click any of these topic suggestions, and you'll see a preview of what your feed/alert structure could look like. Again, you can specify how often you'd like to see this information, from what sources you'd like this alert to draw from, language, geographical region, quality of results, and where you'd like this information to be delivered to (email address). 

Screenshot of the Google Alerts page, showing the trashcan icon on an active alert.
Screenshot, Google.

What if I want to stop the Google Alert?

If you want to stop following a Google Alert:

  1. Navigate back to the Google Alerts page and sign in if necessary.

  2. Find the feed you're following, and click the trashcan icon. 

  3. A confirmation message appears at the top of the page with two options:

  4. Dismiss: Click this option to dismiss the confirmation message.

  5. Undo: Click this option if you change your mind and want to restore the deleted alert to your Alerts list. This will restore the alert with your previous settings intact.

Google Alerts: an easy way to find and follow topics you're interested in

Google Alerts are an easy way to quickly follow any topic you might be interested in. They're easy to set up, easy to maintain, and very versatile.