Imagine a world where information is delivered to your desktop, rather than you having to trawl through pages of Google results. Well, that’s possible with some tools I’m going to introduce to you in this post.
Google Alerts are email updates on the latest relevant Google results based on your stored queries. You decide how often you want to receive updates and results can be restricted by region, language, and format. As with Google’s main search engine, you can use operators to limit the results. For example, put your search term in quotes for exact phrases, and prefix with a minus sign to exclude them. If you wanted to set up a Google Alert for Rio de Janeiro but didn’t want anything on the Olympics, you would use the following format: Rio de Janeiro -Olympics
As you can see, Google automatically displays content meeting those criteria. If you change any of the other options, this list is updated. The Result type is very useful to the researcher, as you can specify ‘Books’. This means that you’ll be alerted when a book including your search terms is made available through Google Books. Most publishers now upload the full text of their publications, so you can find the latest material without having to physically track down every title that might be relevant.
A full list of search operators is available on the Google Alerts website.
If you’re receiving too many emails, simply adjust your search terms and options or change the frequency.
In the good old days, i.e. a couple of years ago in the internet age, it was possible to receive Google Alerts via an RSS feed. Unfortunately, this feature has been abandoned, along with the much-lamented Google Reader. However, Talkwalker Alerts works in a similar way, but also offers the option of an RSS feed. These feeds can be added to Feedly, helping you keep up-to-date with alerts and blog posts at the same time.