Let your fingers do the walking. How many of you remember that ad slogan from the Yellow Pages? Google Alerts should adopt that slogan. Since all you do is type in your request and let Google Alerts do the rest. Let me explain.
When I was first introduced to this I used it (and still do) for genealogy research. It saves a TON of time and it ALWAYS remembers to check. Google Alerts is a way that monitors content on the web by you giving the system information on what to look for. So let’s say you are doing genealogy research and you are concentrating your efforts on one particular surname and a locality and you haven’t had much luck with it. Typically, you should keep trying every week or month to see if the results change as the internet is always adding more content on an hourly basis. But life gets in the way and we forget.
With a FREE Google Account you can use Google Alerts after you give parameters and have those results sent to you via email. Visit www.google.com/alerts and follow the prompts by doing the following: Enter the topic or keywords you want to search. You can click “Preview Results” to see an example of what you might find. Once you have done that, continue to answer the questions that Alerts is asking. This is a one time setup with Alerts. For “What Type of search do you want,” under Genealogy I chose “Everything”. Chose “How Often” you want the system to look, the “Volume” in which you want to receive the emails and where to deliver the information it finds.
Right now I have two specific Google Alerts going on. And it has been very helpful. As I have discussed in a previous article, my maiden name is Londelius. Everytime I check on that surname I don’t find anything new and I also run into some issues as there is a street named after a distant relative in the Los Angeles area. So using the Google Search Basics, I type this into my “Search Terms” box: londelius -st -street -northridge then I have Alerts check “everything” and check it “as-it-happens” and “only the best results,” and I have it delivered by email.
Just 2 weeks ago, I found an obituary from a distant relative this way. I didn’t do a thing, it found it for me and emailed me the results.
A few ideas what you can use this service for if you are looking for a particular recipe with certain ingredients, you are following a particular news story. You can also use it to monitor your companies online business, doing research on an illness or for a report for school. And of course, for genealogy research. Your only limited by your imagination.
So the next time you don’t think you have time to do your family history, let your fingers do the walking and setup an account with Google (remember it’s free) and get started with Google Alerts. It will save you a ton of time and it can work for you ‘behind the scenes’ to hack your family history.