If you have an online presence, you should consider using Google Alerts. I debated writing about this topic, figuring its well-known, well understood, and already written about endlessly. Yet as I talk with business folks, and some new entrepreneurs this past Friday, I realized that’s not the case. So I wanted to take a moment to introduce the topic here, for you.
What are Google alerts? Basically, you create a search string (phrase) just like you would normally on www.google.com. Rather than manually re-running the search periodically to see if the results change, Google alerts will do it for you. Google continuously watches for results matching your search string, and then depending on your settings, either sends you an email or updates your RSS feed.
Why might you care? First is convenience. You may simply want Google to take care of sending you updates as a world event unfolds. It may be a current event such as the earthquake in Japan. Or, perhaps it is something like progress of the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T. Google alerts will automatically send you updates as they are discovered.
Other examples may include monitoring your (or your company’s) social media progress? Maybe you’re a job seeker and want to monitor an employer of interest. Or, perhaps as a blogger maybe you want to be aware of where your efforts are popping up. You just might be surprised.
Here’s an example:
In the preceding dialog (www.google.com/alerts), I entered this search string: “JT Pedersen” OR “J. T. Pedersen” OR “Jt Pedersen“. (Quite often Google alerts will create the OR alternatives for you automatically as you start typing.) The results are then fed to me automatically.
I am frequently surprised at places where I am referenced, who has cited portions of my articles, or in some cases where my articles have been copied completely to someone else’s blog. (Tools like this make plagiarism a fool’s folly.)
So why might you care? I think the best reason is, if someone else thinks highly enough of you to use your content, you want to know who they are. It may be useful in building a new relationship. It may also let you see you and your efforts differently.
Users of tools are rarely constrained to what you thought best. You may think you created a claw hammer for carpentry use; only to find someone is breaking into cars with it.
In this morning’s alerts (you can create many different ones), I discovered last week’s article already replicated on a number of other websites. Without Google alerts I’d have likely never known. More likely, I would have likely not taken the time.
Give it a try. Share your results. I’d enjoy hearing what you find and, I suspect, so will others!