I am getting some questions after my last blog post. I talked about using Google Alerts to track what is being said about you on the internet or people with the same name as you have. You need to do this to be aware of unflattering information about you or someone who might be confused with you. Hopefully, there is none, or it will be the latter situation.
Getting started is easy. When I need information quickly, I go to my favorite tool, Google. When I want to know how to set a Google Alert, I simply google “Google Alert” and it returns several pages of results.
It is a pretty safe bet that Google will be able to figure out the best match for one of their own tools, I select the first item returned: “Google Alerts – Monitor the Web for interesting new content.”
Selecting “Google Alerts – Monitor the Web…” pulls up the Google Alerts web page where I key in the topic I want to be alerted on (i.e. my name “James Snider”) and the email account where I want the alerts emailed. I have tried using my Hotmail account and it appears to work just fine. But since I am the paranoid sort, I normally use a Gmail account. I want to be sure that Google does not decide later to stop supporting my current email service provider (Hotmail, Yahoo, Juno, etc). It is safe to assume that Google will always support their own email service (Gmail).
Now you do have different options you can select such as “Type” where you can restrict what source is searched for information on you or “How often” you want results sent to you or the “Volume”(everything or only the best results) ….but I just take the defaults. That is close enough for me. I might decide to change “volume” to “All results” just so I do not have to wonder if I am missing something important. After all, does Google really know what I would consider “the best results?”
And finally, you will need to go to your email account and verify that you actually did want to have this information sent to your email account. If you do not do this final step, you will not get any updates.
Think about it. Do you want some prankster or ex-“significant other” setting up a Google Alert to send your email account everything that is being said on the Jonas Brothers each day? You need to verify with Google that you set up the Google Alerts being sent to your email account.
It is as easy as that. Do not make it harder than it needs to be…and have a little fun with it.
(Post updated on Feb 9, 2011)
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