Savvy Collecting with Google Alerts
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Google here at RelicRecord.com. In a previous article, we demonstrated how collectors can use Google’s Reverse Image Search to help find similar items on the web for research purposes. Now we’re going to introduce you to another hidden gem – Google Alerts.
Google Alerts is a free service (we love free stuff) that sends you email alerts any time Google finds new results on topics that interest you. Based on criteria provided by you, Google scours the web to find articles, videos, and other content relevant to your criteria, and then delivers those results to your email address. For example, as a collector of Civil War memorabilia, you could get updates about memorabilia for sale, new exhibits, news stories, events, and other things related to the topic.
If you’re not using it already, now is a great time to start. To help shorten your learning curve, here are a few tips and setup instructions:
Step 1: Visit Google Alerts
To get there, you can simply type “Google Alerts” in your search bar or go directly to the page by clicking here.
Step 2: Enter your search terms
Enter the topic or search term(s) that best describe your interests. You’ll immediately see a sample of your Google Alert in the area beneath the text field. By previewing the alert, you will be able to fine tune the search term(s) to produce the kind of results you’re looking for.
When choosing your search terms, keep in mind that a broad search term will return many results – some relative and some not. If you want very specific search returns, use a few Search Operators to help narrow your search results. For example, use quotes around a term (“Example”) to receive results with the same words, in the same order as the ones inside the quotes. Use a minus sign before a term (-Example) to exclude sites with that info from your results.
Step 3: Configure alert settings
Once you’ve settled on your search term(s), click the “Show Options” link to expand the custom settings for your alert.
Step 4: Choose alert frequency
Choose how often you would like to receive search results. You have three frequency options: (1) at most once a day, (2) at most once a week, or (3) as-it-happens.
My preference is to receive alerts once a day (which is also the default setting). This gives me regularly scheduled, daily results, which fit my “browsing” schedule. Keep in mind; if you choose “as-it-happens,” your inbox could be bombarded with alerts if your search term(s) are particularly active online.
Step 5: Choose source type
Within this setting, you may choose specific sources in which you want Google to search for you. You have 8 choices to choose from: (1) automatic, (2) news, (3) blog, (4) web, (5) video, (6) books, (7) discussions, or (8) finance. The default is set to “automatic,” which will return search results of content pulled from all online sources. I would suggest the automatic setting to start with, as you can always come back and edit later.
Step 6: Choose Region
This setting allows you to choose what regions of the world you want Google searching. The default setting is “Any Region.” If you’re only interested in search results from a specific region, I would suggest refining the search criteria. This will deliver more relevant search results from the region in which you’re most interested.
Step 7: Choose search volume
This setting allows you to filter the quality of search results. To receive results that are high quality and relevant to your search terms, choose the default setting “Only the best results.” In addition to “best results”, you may choose to have Google do a little guess work for you by choosing the “All results” option. This will return results that Google thinks are relevant to your search terms, even if they’re low quality.
Step 8: Enter email address
Now that you’ve configured your alert settings, enter the email address that you want the alerts delivered. If you don’t receive any alerts for the next few days, check your spam folder. To circumvent this issue, you may want to add Google Alerts to your contacts.
Step 9: Create the alert
To complete the process, click the “CREATE ALERT” button. IMPORTANT: Google will send you a confirmation email, asking you to confirm or cancel the Google Alert request. Once you confirm, you will start receiving alerts!
If you’re not a fan of Google (similar to Sasquatch, I’ve heard such people exist) or just want to try something else, there are free (yes, we love free) alternatives. As a marketer by trade, I’ve used several services, both paid and free, such as Mention, for business marketing purposes. However, for the average needs of a collector, I would suggest checking out Talkwalker. It closely resembles Google Alerts in terms of ease-of-use and accuracy of topics returned.
One last tip, if you regularly conduct a specific Google search, let Google Alerts automate it for you. We hope you find “collectible” success with Google Alerts!