Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Using Google Alerts

In a recent post I mentioned Google Alerts. It occurs to me that many of you may not have gone to Bob Bryan's class on searching with Google and so may not know what Google Alerts are....so here goes.

Alerts are searches that you have Google do for you continuously. When Google gets some hits when doing the search, it sends you an email with the search results. The content of that email looks exactly like the usual Google screen you would see any time you do a search yourself. The links are live and you can click them from within the email to check them out.

You can get to Alerts from the main Google home page. In the upper left corner of the screen click on "more," and then click on "even more" in the drop-down menu that appears. At the top of the list in the next screen that comes up is a link for "Alerts." Click this and then just follow the directions.

You can specify search terms, the type of search (comprehensive, just Blogs, etc), how often the search should be done, and the email address the results should be sent to. You can establish as many alerts as you wish, but remember that the number and frequency of alerts will be reflected in you email inbox. From this page you can also manage your alerts: change them, cancel them, etc.

I have several comprehensive alerts that are executed weekly. Here are two examples of the search terms I'm using: (1) <"Peter Summers" Wisconsin> (this is looking for web entries that may relate to my Wisconsin ancestor); (2) which keeps me up to date on legislation that may affect our access to genealogy records and data). Both of these are rather broad searches, but I figure I would rather ignore hits rather than miss some.

Alerts are a way to have technology do some work for you in the background.

If this was interesting to you, you should consider attending our 13 February 2010 annual seminar. Our primary speaker is Dick Eastman, one of today's leading genealogy technology and resource experts. He is going to include "Using Google in Genealogy Research" as one of his presentation topics.

In the months and weeks ahead we will be telling you more about our seminar. Right now, mark it on your calendar (13 Feb 2010) and then continue to look for information about it here in this Blog as well as on our website <http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~flpgs/index.htm>.

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