Grrr…: Google Alerts

I have been following some very inspirational teachers on Twitter for some time (you know who you are)! One of the things that has really excited me has been the way that ideas for professional development are so easily collated and disseminated.  At the same time as this happening, I have been putting together some presentations on emarketing and social networking, and I think the two work together really well.  Therefore, I intend to start to write a few different posts on ‘how-to…’.  The first couple at least will be easy, how to use Google Alerts, how to use Google Analytics effectively etc.  If there are any others that you want to see, then let me know!  So, to the first…

How to use Google Alerts.

For starters:

Google Alerts is a free service from Google, that delivers email alerts to your inbox on pre-defined search terms.  You can choose how often they are sent to you, what sort of thing Google looks for (everything or just news, blogs, video etc.).  It works a bit like feedburner in that if there isn’t anything new, you don’t get an email!

How to set one up:

To start with, you will see a screen like this:


On the right-hand side, you enter the search terms.  Here, be careful to think about this in the same way that you would every other search you do in Google. I have set up a few, and you can tell instantly which ones are most useful by how tightly the search terms are put in.  For example, using the quotation marks I have an alert for “Assessing Pupils Progress” which brings up some really good results. However “APP”, is altogether rubbish. I get everything to do with iPhone apps for example.

Choose the type (news, video etc.); how often you want them to come to you and then create the alert.

The next step:

When you have set one up, it will appear in the list of alerts you have previously created, it should look something like this:


You can see where I have used quotation marks on pretty much everything.  I know I need to remove the ‘APP’ one, but all of the others deliver really good results and for different reasons. The first two tell me when people have commented on some of our best-selling resources, and where they have been listed for sale across the web. The “Assessing Pupils Progress” one finds everything I need to keep up-to-date with the topic including a tweet from @tombarrett that has appeared on someone elses blog, and an email that the DCSF sent out on 9/12/09 which publishers hadn’t had notice of the content.


The one that works really well is www.scholastic.co.uk as this one tells me the new links to our website that have been created on a daily basis.

As you will see, that is about it. It is super simple, and as effective as you make it. You need to make sure you define the search terms properly, and as soon as you have it should perform for you.  It is like everything else, test, test, test until you get it just right!  The one last thing to say is that as Facebook and Twitter are now being crawled by Google, you ‘should’ get some results from there as well…but it seems slow to start. If you need results specifically from Twitter, then I would use a service such as Tweetbeep.

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