Using Google Alerts for your research

Google Alerts

Did you know that you can easily monitor the web for content  and be notified of the results by using Google Alerts?

Start by simply choosing a key word that is relevant to the topic you wish to research. If you wish to search for a term that contains more than one word, e.g. a person’s name, then add quote marks “Joe Bloggs”.

Google Alerts

You can then choose from a number of options to refine your search and how you would like to receive the results found by Google.

Google alert options

Frequency of alert

Choose to receive email alerts:

  • as it happens (useful if monitoring live events)
  • at most once a day
  • at most once a week

Sources

The default is automatic and will search a variety of sources. You can also opt to select from:

  • news
  • blogs
  • web
  • video
  • books
  • discussions

Language and Region

Choose the language you wish the alerts to be in and also where they originate from.

Search results

How many results you receive will depend on the popularity of the keyword you search for but can be reduced by selecting ‘only the best results’ or increased by selecting ‘all results’.

Finally choose whether to have the results sent your email address or RSS feed.

Uses for Google Alerts 

Search for:

  • Your own name and see who is talking about your work and research. This can often pick up blog posts talking about work you have presented, blogged about yourself or shared via social media.
  • Jobs by including a series of words in quote marks plus and in between each: “company name” and “job” and “type of job”
    So for example: “BBC” and “job” and “PR”
  • Industry and company news. Find out what is happening in your sector or if you are looking to apply for a job find out detailed information about the company.
  • Breaking news and trending topics. Here you would select everything for result type. You might want to also set up a separate alert to look at what is coming through from different sources e.g. news, blogs, web and video.
  • Niche topics you are interested in. By selecting any region you will receive alerts from across the world or drill down to a specific country.

You can choose as many alerts as you wish to create.

To set up your Google Alerts go to https://www.google.co.uk/alerts

Experiment with other Boolean search terms too to refine the results you receive.

About Sue Beckingham

An Educational Developer and Senior Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
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