How would you like to have your own personal scout, who keeps an eye on the web every day, and who will report back to you with brief updates about everything from your favourite sporting team, your home town, your competitors or your industry – possibly even yourself so you can know what others are saying about you?
If this sounds great, and you’d like to experience it for free, you should get into Google News Alerts.
There are few new users these days who are unfamiliar with Google, the all-pervasive and by far most dominant search engine. As the internet industry begins to come back to life in the eyes of the share-market, it’s search engines, led by Google, that are exciting analysts the most – Google plans to IPO later this year, one of the first dot com companies to do so since the crash.
While most of us have gotten to know Google for its fast, efficient and clutter-free search service – it has captured >60% of the search market – it has a less well known and equally useful service called Google News.
If you’re like us, you’ve realised that waiting for the news bulletin at the top of the hour on the radio or the evening TV broadcast is far less efficient than taking a minute or two to head to your favourite news site, whether it’s a major ‘traditional’ media outlet’s online presence or something a little more independent. These sites spend their time trying to interest you in a range of stories, and you often find yourself sucked into reading curious but utterly time-wasting stories about David Beckham, etc.
This is where Google comes in. It scours the net looking for the main news stories from hundreds and hundreds of publishers. It automatically groups the sources from various outlets, and without any human interaction at all, it decides what is important enough to list on it’s page, news.google.com.au, which is updated around the clock.
On the left of this page, with an envelope icon, is one of the most powerful little tools I’ve found this year – the News Alert service. All you do is give Google some keywords of the kinds of stories to tell you about, and it will email you, either once a day or as it happens, with any stories that come up around the world matching your keywords.
It’s free, and works a charm. We use it to keep an eye on some of our larger competitors, our industry in general, and our local community. I’ve found it fantastic – now I can keep abreast of the news I’m interested in, and go straight to the story without getting side-tracked all of the time. It’s also great for any company that uses “media monitoring” services – now you can do at least some of it for free, reliably.
To get started, visit news.google.com.au and sign up – it’s as simple as entering your keywords, your email address, and signing up. Be aware, however, that the news stories have to contain ALL of your keywords to pop up – this is different to most other searches where one word from a group will do. It makes the stories much more focused and relevant, but keep it in mind when you’re entering your keywords – don’t enter a dozen keywords at once, as you’re unlikely to find something that matches all of them.
If you give it a go, take a moment to tell us what you think by getting in touch with Internetrix.