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Google Alerts

Monitoring The Web Using Google Alerts

http://blog.lucaslshaffer.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/alerts.jpg”>Google AlertsIn a past http://blog.lucaslshaffer.com/2010/02/please-rob-me-8-ways-to-be-more-responsible-online/” target=”_blank”>post on how to be more responsible on the web, I brought up http://www.google.com/alerts” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Google Alerts as a tool to help locate information on yourself to build awareness to what others would see.  I think it’s time to dive a bit further and discover how to monitor the web for news, brand interaction, interesting articles, yourself and other people.

There really is no limit to what you can ‘monitor’ on the web using this tool.  Below I will give a few scenarios and hopefully you can find value in this short post.  Start monitoring the web today to bring value to you instead of participating in the constant struggle to discover new information.

The Self-absorbed

Most of us have never found the time to Google ourselves and discover that our names are a big part of who we are.  Without a ‘name’ we have no true real estate on the web.  Whether it be an avatar, business name, nickname or your real name, you deserve to know when you are being represented on the web.  Google Alerts can take a parameter as simple as “Lucas Shaffer” and email me every time Google crawls a site that uses the term “Lucas Shaffer”.  You can set it to instantaneously alert you which provides a quick boost of ego altering messages or you can have it digest the top amount for a day, week or month.  You can toggle this feature to get the best managed result.

The only lesson here is that while you may have Google’d your name in the past, you possibly were not aware you could monitor and receive emailed reports of your name ‘activity’.  I personally use many versions of my name and  prefer the avatar ‘lucaslshaffer’.  So, I currently monitor the following combinations and receive regular reports on them.

  • Lucas L Shaffer
  • “Lucas L Shaffer”
  • lucaslshaffer
  • Lucas Lamberto Shaffer
  • “Lucas Shaffer”

Needless to say, I seem a bit ‘self-absorbed’….

The Brand Police

If you own a copyright or trademark then you partake in a very customary ritual.  You subconsciously seek your name or brand throughout the entire day.  You possibly use a search engine to find whether or not you are mentioned in an online periodical or if you are trending on twitter.  Either way, you are working way too hard.  Google Alerts can search for your brand for you and report any discussion to your email as you command.  It’s liberating to turn these services on and watch as you concentrate more on work and less on finding the ‘bad guys’.

You can basically be your own brand monitoring service to a certain degree.

Maybe you just want to follow Nike and their new Air Jordan campaign or follow a trending topic on twitter about the Oil Spill and BP stock reports.   Here are a few brands I monitor on the web in which I can turn a blog comment into a connection.

  • “The Game Headwear”
  • The Game LLC
  • Soffe
  • Delta Apparel, Inc
  • Junk Food Tees
  • “the bar design”
  • classic headwear

As soon as the web crawls this information on the web, I am alerted and can consume as I like.

News

With the proliferation of news sites you can get lost really quick.  You almost always have to fight the gushing ads and ‘feeler’ comments to get to the value you seek.  You possibly already have RSS feeds attached to your favorite reader and enjoy the combination of time and effort built into these tools.  That’s all fine.  But what about ‘bleeding edge’ news?  The news that is so lava hot your awareness is compared to the watchdogs at the http://www.huffingtonpost.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Huffington Post or http://mashable.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Mashable.

Well, here it is.  A trick I will share with you now to help fulfill your needs from gathering the latest and greatest from the web.  Your fishing line that only reels in the fish you want.  If you want mobile device information for Androids new releases as it hits the wire directly  from the source and you also want competitors reactions, then you can have it.  That is it.  This scenario is easy to follow and seen daily from my tweets as I try to provide the latest Android info to my followers.  My monitoring keywords are below.

  • “Android”
  • Google Android
  • Android Froyo
  • Nexus One
  • iPhone
  • BlackBerry
  • Incredible

As these topics hit the feeds, I am the first to know and sometimes first to share!  🙂   This has been a reliable and very intuitive way to create remarkable conversations on facebook and twitter.  It also has the ability to create a bubble of expertise around yourself as you consume the alerts daily to build knowledge on the topic of choice.  Others notice your are just a step ahead of them on the news and they will begin to expect it.

I will stop here as I feel I have covered the major scenarios.  Either way you slice it, I stay up to date without much effort.  Google Alerts brings my consumable news, brand engagement and interactions and people talking about me directly to my inbox.  Google is also expanding into social media sites, like twitter, making the power of news management a skill where filter creation supports precision and not just broad strokes of results as in the past.

The first question to ask is what do I search for regularly?  Financial data?  Twitter blogs?  iPhone articles?

The cost of Google Alerts are cheap.  They take less than a minute to set up and begin paying off rather quickly.  You may find yourself tweaking popular parameters to a digest setting while your inbox fills with the information you seek.

Teach a user to search, the user learns for a day.  Teach the user how to utilize Google Alerts, the user learns for a lifetime, in small emailed reports.  Until turned off.

Happy Alert Building!

Warning:  In an effort to filter the entire web on everything you want to know, you may create a wave of uncontrollable spam for yourself.  Start slow, build alerts that work with precision and go from there.

About the Author

I am a husband to a beautiful wife named Whitney and Dad to a wonderful baby boy. Yay! :) Damien Augustus Shaffer has come into this world on March 15th 2010. In my professional life, I have accumulated over 4 years utilizing a wide range of technologies to develop software solutions for my current employer. Most of this time was spent learning methodical approaches within different environments to broaden my programming knowledge and project planning abilities. These environments include both open source and Windows based development, mainly Web. I also dabble in Social Media and it applications in today's culture and marketplace. I consider it a hobby but some may say its an obsession. ;) I enjoy it immensely.