Archive for August, 2012

How to Set Up Google Alerts and Use Them for Internet Research

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Typically, when we want to use the internet for research, we go to Google, type in a search term, and browse through the results. But what if you want to see the latest developments about a topic on a regular basis? You would have to remember to do the search every day, or every week, then sift through pages of results to find the new stuff. This could take hours!


That’s where Google Alerts comes in. Google Alerts enable you to put the internet research process on autopilot and have the latest search results show up in your email inbox or in your Google Reader feed. With Google Alerts you can do things like:

  • Stay on top of trends in your industry
  • See who’s talking/writing about a particular topic
  • Monitor what people are saying about your company online
  • Keep track of what your competition is doing online


Although you aren’t required to have an account with Google to set up an Alert, setting up Alerts through your Google account makes them easier to manage. If you use Gmail, Google Reader, Google Plus, or any of the other dozens of Google services, you already have a Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, this video shows you how to set up a Google account.


Step #1: Log into Your Google Account

To set up a Google Alert, go to

Click on “Sign In” in the upper right hand corner.

Google Alert login screen

Enter your Google account email address and password, then click the blue “Sign In” box.

Google Alert login screen


Step #2: Set Up Your Search Query

After you login, you are taken to a dashboard listing all your alerts. To create a new alert, click on the red “Create a New Alert” button at the bottom of your list. (of course, if you haven’t set up an Alert yet, there won’t be a list.)

Setting up Google Alerts

Enter the search term you want to be notified about. In this case I have entered “content strategy” (a topic I need to stay educated about for my business). Once I enter my search query, to the right Google displays an example of what my Google Alert will look like.

Setting up Google Alerts

Bright Idea: Make your search more accurate by using quotes.

Did you notice how I put quotes around my search query? I did that because it tells Google, “I am looking for these words in this order.” If I didn’t use quotes, Google would show me every web page that had the words “content” and “strategy” anywhere on the page. Ugh! That’s a lot to search through when I know I mean “content strategy.”


Click here for a PDF version of “How to Set Up a Google Alert.”

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