Every morning, when I wake up, I have several emails from Google. They include all new mentions of my name that Google has indexed in the morning, as well as the names of several projects I’m working on. Those emails also include updates on news related to a few topics that I write about on a regular basis — they often give me a jump start for ideas to write about.
And all those emails are delivered due to a little tool called Google Alerts. As long as you already have a Google account (and you do if you use any of Google’s services like Gmail), setting up an alert is just a matter of typing in your search terms. It’s an absolute handy tool for any writer to use. Just off the top of my head, these are the ways I use Google Alerts:
- Find articles that I’ve written that editors have forgotten to email me about.
- Find responses and links to my articles, and find out what people are saying, which can often lead me to write a follow up article in turn.
- Find products to review for a specific niche blog I write at.
- Find news about the topic of the book I am currently writing.
- Find mentions of my blogs and other projects I’m working on.
- Find news about topics that I consider part of my expertise.
- Find ideas for new articles.
There are a thousand more reasons to set up at least a few Google Alerts. In general, I use the same settings for each alert: I select the comprehensive alert, which includes anything Google finds in the news, on blogs, on the web, as a video, or on Google Groups. You can always tweak your settings later on — and for some topics, a comprehensive alert is just too much information. You may need to back down to just one or two sources to be able to read through the day’s emails quickly.
I also set my alerts to once a day. It’s just an issue of keeping my emails down to a manageable level. If I went the as-it-happens route, I would never stop reading my email.
All in all, Google Alerts makes my day — and my writing — much easier. It helps me find information about specific topics that I would otherwise never see, and never be able to write about!