Google Alerts – Your Personal Virtual Research Assistant

By on Jun 2, 2016

I am surprised at how little agency staff — especially producers — use Google Alerts.

Using Google Alerts is like having a personal virtual research assistant spending 100% of their time searching the web to find news, comments, and articles based on keywords and phrases you select. The advantage to this personal assistant is it doesn’t get tired and it doesn’t forget to do a search!

And this service will not cost you anything because it is provided for free by the world’s most popular search engine — Google.

I use Google Alerts constantly to automatically scour the web looking for information that’s of interest to me. As you can see in the screenshot below, I have a large number of search phrases. Google Alerts constantly monitors the web for new instances of my search terms. It then sends me a daily email recap of the most important items for my review.

Google Alerts example

Setting up and using Google Alerts is easy.

  • Just log into your Google Account and select “Alerts” from the list of Google products available. Alternatively, you can go to http://www.google.com/alerts
  • Create a new Alert by typing in the search terms and/or phrases that you want it to find.
  • The full power of Google’s search options is available to you in Alerts. Be sure to review all the search options to narrow your search to just the information you are interested in receiving.
  • You do have the option of choosing the frequency (weekly or daily) of emails you receive with the search results. All of my Alert results emails are sent to me daily.
  • Google Alerts remembers which links were previously sent. This means that once you see an item listed in an email, you will not see it again unless the information has changed within that particular article or web page. Be aware, the email alerts for the first few days will likely contain a lot of hits.

There are a number of uses for Google Alerts within an insurance agency. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Create an Alert with your agency name(s). This allows you to find out when your agency is mentioned online and can help you protect your agency brand. This can be especially important when any negative comments might appear.
  • Create an Alert with the names of individuals and/or companies that are your current clients. This allows you to automatically track and monitor any information about existing clients. For example, you could find out when an existing customer has won an industry award. This would be an excellent opportunity to engage with your client and congratulate them.
  • Create an Alert for topics for which you have an interest. This could be particular industries where you have a market focus or issues affecting your clients. In the list of Alerts I have created, you will notice several around “machine learning” and “machine teaching.” This is a topic I am interested in because of the implications for the insurance industry.
  • Create an Alert for insurance companies you represent. Who knows what interesting and helpful information you might discover.
  • Create an Alert for vendors with which you have a relationship.

If you have been using Google Alerts for a while, hopefully, this is a reminder to revisit your Alerts and update them as necessary.

If you are brand new to Google Alerts, I hope I’ve given you some good reasons to explore this service to see how it can streamline your ability to keep up-to-date on a variety of topics.

Google Alerts is a core tool that allows me to automatically stay updated on a variety of people, companies, and topics.

How have you used Google Alerts effectively? Please share your tips and tricks in the Comments section below.

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