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Susan Kistler on Google Alerts

My name is Susan Kistler, and I am the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director. It is my pleasure to contribute each Saturday’s post to the aea365 blog. One challenge is staying abreast of what’s being said about an evaluand or about you or your practice. For me, for instance, I want to know what’s being said online about the “American Evaluation Association” as well as when people refer to “Susan Kistler” (go ahead, admit it, you’ve googled yourself). Rather than doing google searches whenever the item comes to mind, consider having google send notices to you.

Hot Tip: Create Free Google Alerts – they provide a way to receive emails containing links to new online content containing key words that you identify. A natural starting point is to set up alerts for the name of a group with which you work. However, there are multiple uses for alerts. Let’s say you are working with a group that is striving to change the way we talk about new immigrants. Two possible phrases are “illegal immigrants” and “undocumented immigrants” and this group is working to increase use of the latter. Regular alerts would allow you to understand the nature of what is being said, and to see that language change over time. For those evaluating social media and/or online communications, google alerts can be an essential part of the ‘listening’ function.

Key features:

  1. Filtering: They may be scheduled for a frequency that meets your needs, including receiving notices as they occur, daily, or weekly and they may be set to look at all sources, or just news, groups, blogs, videos, etc.
  2. Management: You can set up and manage multiple alerts, with different frequencies, terms, and scope.
  3. Delivery: Alerts may be sent to an RSS feed, or to email, a key ease-of-use function for many.


  1. Identify the key words on which you wish to set up notifications,
  2. Go to http://www.google.com/alerts and set up one or more alerts, if using a phrase rather than a stand-alone word, put the phrase in quotes such as “undocumented immigrants”,
  3. If you set up multiple alerts, it is worth setting up a management account to be able to see and refine all of your alerts information in one place. First, set up a google account (http://www.google.com/accounts/?hl=en). Then, go to the google alerts page and you will see a “manage your accounts” link

Finally, if you are not getting exactly the responses that you anticipated, refine your search using the advanced search tips found here: http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?answer=136861.

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

1 thought on “Susan Kistler on Google Alerts”

  1. Susan,

    I’ve been using Google Alerts for almost 2 years now and absolutely love it. It is definitely one of the best ways of “listening” to the web. However, depending upon your topic (and sanity), it may be worthwhile to select the daily digest frequency option.

    One question–pundits are expecting for Bing to become Google’s main competitor within the search engine market. Have you heard of any equivalent services for Bing?

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