Last week I wrote about steps you can take to gain awareness of your family’s digital footprint. Now that you’ve seen what’s out there on the internet about you and your family, and taken steps to remove private information from the public eye, it’s time to monitor. You can’t spend every day clicking through the Google search results for your name. So here is a method for putting Google to work for you!
You can save any search term and get an e-mail each time new results are found that match your keywords. There are a few ways to do this, but this is the easiest I’ve found.
How to create a Google alert
1. Log into your Google account. Note that you need a Google account to use this function. If you use Gmail or YouTube, you have a Google account. You can create one here for free if you don’t already have one. You don’t have to set up Gmail; you can create a Google account using your existing e-mail address.
2. Then go to this link: http://www.google.com/alerts/manage
3. If you haven’t created alerts yet this page will be empty. You’ll see the message “You don’t have any Google alerts. Try creating one”. Click to create a new alert.
4. Fill in the information:
a. The search term you want to track. This is where you’d type your name.
b. Result type – the choices are Everything, News, Blogs, Video, Discussion, and Books. I choose “Everything” to make sure I’m not missing anything. If you were, say, setting up an alert for a popular result such as “Justin Bieber” (although why would you do that?) you might choose just “News” to get the latest news on the Biebs, or just “Blogs” to see what the blogosphere has to say about his latest antics
c. How often do you want to receive an e-mail: Choose As-it-happens and you’ll get an e-mail as soon as Google knows about the new content. Choose daily or weekly for summary e-mails.
d. How Many – do you want to receive only the best results, or all results? When it comes to my own name, I chose “All results”.
e. Deliver to: E-mail or Feed. “Feed” refers to RSS feeds. I actually like to send my alerts to a feed and then I can peruse them at my leisure instead of being bombarded with e-mail. However, Google will be doing away with their Google RSS Reader this summer; so I’m not sure if this will be an option. If you don’t know what RSS is all about, I hope to write about it soon! For now, choose e-mail to get these results delivered to your Inbox.
You’ll notice that a preview on the right side will show what types of results you could expect to see.
5. Add additional alerts – for example, you might want to monitor your children’s names, business or organization, or add variations of your name such as maiden name. Also try searches with your name in quotes such as “Jane Doe” for an exact match. (I use both with quotes and without quotes to make sure I don’t miss anything).
You can also use Alerts to help you do research. For example, one way I keep myself up-to-date on emerging technology and social media is through alerts for various search terms such as “parental controls” and “kid friendly apps”. I scour through the results and share the pertinent information with you…so now you know my secret!
Create your alerts then sit back and wait for the results to roll in! If they don’t start pouring into your Inbox, you’re doing a good job keeping your name and information private and OFF the internet.