Google Alerts: What They Are, How to Make One

news alerts

Want to track a particular topic and have all information that bubbles up in the news be automatically delivered to you in any time frame you might 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. 

How to set up a Google Alert

Here's how it works. Navigate to the Google News page, and click on the news alerts link.

Next, you define the topic, by setting any number of keywords and phrases that retrieved items need to have, the type of news you want, how often you want it, and the email address you'd like to receive these alerts at. 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.

 

Once your Google account is verified, you have access not only to Google's news tracker, but a ton of other cool stuff; including Google Groups, Answers, and Web APIs. Go ahead and sign in and further personalize your news tracking. The online interface and instructions make this process easy.Google will now send you news alerts that 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 I've found that when I'm needing more of a variety of sources on one subject, they manage to deliver.

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 on any of these topics, 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 as-it-happens to once a week; 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). 

What if I want to stop the Google Alert?

If you want to stop following a Google Alert, simply navigate back to the Google Alerts page, find the feed you're following, and click the trashcan icon. 

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

In summary, Google Alerts are an easy way to follow any topic you might be interested in, quickly.

They're easy to set up, easy to maintain, and very versatile.