I sing the praises of Google’s Google Alerts tool regularly. It definitely makes my job as a freelance writer and a professional easier.
What is it? Google will let Google account holders set up an instant or periodic notification system that tells you via email about certain keywords appearing online with links.
Here’s how I use it in my writing career:
Tracking a Name
By setting a Google Alert for a name, particularly my name, I can see when websites mention that name or when articles get indexed.
I have set an alert for some of my more focused website addresses. This way, I can see references to the site on other pages as well as see when I’m getting indexed and this helps me track my search engine rankings. I find this much faster than combing through my site statistics. (I still do that but this way I see quick alerts daily or even instantly)
Writing Job Alerts
If I want to know about newly listed writing jobs in general or about specific types of writing jobs, I can set an alert for Google to tell me about new listings. This could help me uncover opportunities pretty quickly and delivers job postings to my email box rather than my having to dig for them through job boards.
Writing Project Research
I set alerts for topics and keyword phrases that I have regular assignments for. With many clients in different industries who rely on me to write with authority and knowledge about their industry, Google Alerts helps me do that in a way that saves me on research time. I can set file folders up in Gmail to save information to read later and that way I don’t miss important news or information about a topic.
At times I’ve set alerts for article titles of mine or articles I write for customers that I wanted to track online. I once found an instance of plagiarism that I was able to deal with swiftly thanks to Google Alerts.
Alerts can be set and turned off as and when you need them. Google has some great tools for writers. I also use Trends, Adwords, Google Docs, and am starting to dabble with Google Buzz. What’s your favourite Google tool?