Google Alerts For Stalking Yourself Online

GoogleAlerts

I had coffee with a good friend today, who had no idea Google Alerts existed.  So I thought this would be a great post for her, for you, or anyone else who isn’t using this free service to its greatest advantage.

What are Google Alerts?

It is a free notification service that will send you an email anytime Google finds something on line that you want to watch for; like your name “King Kong”, your boss’s name “Micro Manager”, your competition, your kid’s names, etc? If Google finds any page on the internet with content matching what you are watching for, you will receive an email with a link to that page. Google seems to be freaky at finding every page eventually.

Here’s how easy it is:

GoogleAlerts

Input the topic, name or any search terms you want to monitor. Select whether you want Google to monitor everything (comprehensive), or choose to target news, video, blogs, the web or online groups. Then select how frequently you want to receive email updates, and then finally how many links per email you want to see (20 or 50).

CreateGoogleAlert

Click Create Alert and you are done… sit back and wait! Then depending on how common your search term, it could be minutes, days or months before you receive your first alert.

As an example below, here is a Google Alert landing in my inbox from monitoring my own name online.

Alert

Here are a few other great resources, tips, & alternatives:

Google Alerts Help http://www.google.com/support/alerts/?hl=en

10 Tips For Small Businesses http://www.sbinformer.com/guides/marketing_your_product/articles/090608-10-Ways-to-Use-Google-Alerts-for-Business-Social-Media

Yahoo Alerts http://alerts.yahoo.com/

Windows Live Alerts http://alerts.live.com/Alerts/

Jonathon Fields Blog Post http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/stalking-or-due-diligence-google-alerts-gone-bad/

How are you using Google Alerts?

I Quit Blogging Today

Flying 30,000 ft above the frozen prairies of Canada it struck me! I’m not blogging for ALL the right reasons! Sure, when I’m consistent, I can churn out some damn good posts that point my readers in the right technological direction! Yet, something major is missing.

I’m not enjoying it as much as I use to, honestly don’t think I’m making a major difference & by the lack of comments on the majority of posts I’d dare say you agree! No hard feelings… some time the truth just plain sucks! To date my blogging efforts have been strangely scattered and not social in nature. I’m not only NOT reaching enough readers, I’m not reaching out and really connecting with YOU, with other bloggers, or wickedly interesting people behind the technology, services or ideas I often recommend!

This changes as of right now. No more just tweeting my blog post links. No more Mr. Passive Promotion! I quit blogging today and won’t post again until I can truly step it up a notch.

Here is my future plan to find blogging enjoyment again, produce better content,  and in the process enlighten YOU and hopefully earn the right to ask for your comments and ability to share with your network!

1. No blog post will get published, unless it can truly make a difference to you or someone you may know.

2. I will frequently start reaching out and promoting through this blog the insanely brilliant people, bloggers, authors, tech owners and professionals who are doing amazing things on & offline. These people are the ones that truly deserve your time and attention!

3. Lastly, I have shyed away from controversy for too long.  In doing so, I have avoided posting some truly thought provoking content! When I start again I will come back with thicker skin, and be tackling some tougher issues.

I quit blogging today! I look forward to coming back soon.

The Email Wars

No, I’m not talking about Microsoft Outlook vs. Google Gmail. If that’s what you were looking for, LifeHacker just did a great post on the top 5 email clients you can read here: 5 Best Email Clients

Instead the question today is, are the e-mail wars vs. social networking still raging? Is e-mail as a business marketing tool still relevant?

Let’s try and answer these two questions:

The e-mail war indeed rages on! What I mean by this is that although social networking, micro blogging and instant messaging have taken the main stage the last several years, we ALL still rely on email as the main stay of a significant percentage of our time on the Internet and or mobile devices. Despite giving up a percentage of time to social networks, email is still the preferred communication tool on the Internet for the majority. The war rages on, with all of these additional social communication tools still requiring us to have a valid email address before we can use them! Heck, email even notifies us when we should be logging into our social networks. When Twitter or Facebook no longer depend on email addresses, then this will be the signal that the E-Mail Wars are coming to an end! This will happen one day, the world is just not quite ready for a Facebook or Twitter operating system just yet.

Is e-mail still relevant as a business marketing tool?

After conducting a seriously unofficial survey of many business owners I know, email is still by far the easiest way for them to reach out to all their customers the fastest! Unfortunately, for social networking, many, many SME business haven’t even graduated to email newsletters, such as Aweber or Constant Contact, let alone trying to create effective campaigns on social services such as Facebook or Twitter!

Word of caution to all of you tech company owners! Unless you are tech to tech B2B, then there is still a ton of educating needed on the ‘basics’ for a good number of SME clients and prospects (opportunity is alive and well in North America). Those companies that educate or automate… Will continue to win!

The email wars rage on and they are far from over.

If you are a small to medium sized business and want to read up on email marketing, I would suggest getting advice from the bloggers & professionals at companies that deal with email marketing on the front lines, day in and day out! Even more importantly, read the comments on these blogs as their customers often create light bulb moments you can take to the bank.

Checkout the blogs at:

Aweber/blog (email marketing tips)
Constant Constant Best Practices Blog

If you are a business or entrepreneur that has already figured out email marketing, and are ready to graduate to marketing on social networks. Then as far as I am concerned, there is only one person you need to study & learn from and that is Trust Agent:

ChrisBrogan.com

What do you think? Will a Facebook operating system replace your need for email one day?

Top Ten Tools For 2010

These tools, ideas, software, blogs and online services are my top ten for you to consider making your life, business and technology work a lot harder for you this year, and beyond! I say ‘our’, as I can not take credit for all of them, as many readers and other blogs I regularly read have pointed out several of these! On that note… Thank you to  LifeHacker, Chris Brogan, Seth GodinTim Ferris & Deb Raven! ( All blogs I highly recommend you add to your personal reading list!)

Here they are:

10. Backup Drive, Google Docs or DropBox

Many of our precious digital memories or business related digital documents are considered irreplaceable. If you don’t take the time to back them up, you are at risk of losing it all if your computer crashes ( I speak form experience :). Make this the year you sleep soundly at night knowing that your data is backed up via a back up drive, and or you have utilized a free or paid online storage service.

9. iPhone or iTouch (Top 10 there’s an APP for everything list!)

Gone are the days of frustrating mobile devices that make using the internet and other online services painful. I recommend that everyone have either an iPhone or at the very least an i Touch so that you can; unwind anywhere and rediscover the power of music, use abundantly available free WIFI to play games with friends, and or connect with business colleagues and create the next Google, even if you aren’t on the same continent.

Here are my Top Ten apps; WordPress, Skype, Google Apps, Dragon Dictation, Facebook, Echofon (Twitter), LinkedIn, Scrabble, PS Mobile (Photoshop), & PayPal

8. Skype

After recently teaching my parents to use Skype while they travel for two solid months, they were astonished that they could call any phone number in North America for less than the cost of  one  Star Bucks Latte a month. I’ll say that again in case you missed it… for about 3$ a month they have unlimited long distance to any phone!!!! So if you have been hiding under a rock until now,  and haven’t downloaded Skype, what are you waiting for? Skype is so much more than just cheap long distance, as its great for free video chatting, instant messaging and real time business collaboration.

7. Windows 7

Finally, Microsoft has hit the mark with their new operating system. If your PC is still running XP or Vista then it is well worth the effort to upgrade. Here are just a snippets of the 100′s of  improvements you could experience; very simple Home Networking (easy to connect all your PC’s to a home group), faster boot up & down times, and vastly improved user interface even if the changes feel ever so slight! Either way, it’s worth the upgrade!

6. RocketDock

This little free APP saves me time every day, and helps me keep my often cluttered desktop more organized. If you have too many icons on your desktop and want an easier way to get acces to your most frequently used programs, then this is the ticket. The price is right (free), but if you do like it consider donating a little cash to the developers, as they have been nice enough not to charge.

5. GoToMeeting

Ok, so this one is definitely not cheap, but if you are in business and need to conduct super effective remote meeting(s) with one or more people then Citrix has this market locked up. I have used GoToMeeting for several years and highly recommend it to anyone. Some of my favorite uses for this service are;  giving remote presentations, white boarding ideas with partners, connecting to a friends computer and helping, and so much more.

4. GoToMyMac, & GoToMyPc

Although I wrote about this back in 2007 (here), I still use GoToMyPC when I am on the road to work off of my main super computer :) Again, this isn’t a cheap service, but if your business life depends on you reliably accessing your main computer RIGHT NOW to help you close a deal, then this other Citrix product is for you. There are other alternative free services out there for sure, but I have never found anything as reliable and robust.

3. Elance.com

After reading Tim Ferris’s book (The 4 Hour Work Week) I was reminded of this outsourcing service, and finally took the plunge to get a few side projects completed. On Elance you can virtually post almost any type of job or project you can think of and experts around the world will bid to get the work. For often very reasonable prices you could have a script ghost written, hire a programmer or web designer, have a database expert create you the perfect database, hire a virtual assistant, and so much more. Make this the year that you truly act on delegating those tasks you need done, but really know you don’t have the time or desire to get to.

2. Dragon Naturally Speaking

When it comes to typing I had two choices. Either spend the time to truly teach myself how to type or accept my limitations and use technology to my advantage.  What do you think i decided? I finally bought Dragon Naturally Speaking and now talk to my computer, and watch as my words are magically typed out on the screen. No word of a lie, this has probably saved me a 100+ hours in the past year. I have found Dragon to be 98% accurate, and it works on any program I have on my PC that accepts typed text like Word, FireFox,  gMail, etc.

1. Life Is What You Make It

I think I have saved the best for last, but you can be the judge of that.  I know in my heart that there is NO technology on the planet that can truly  make our lives better like other human beings can. Yes, software and online services can save you time & money, of which can be applied to the other areas of your life that mean the most to you. Let this be the year that you consider hiring an executive or life coach to assist you in making this your best year ever. I use & highly recommend Deb Raven.

I hope one of these Top 10  saves you time & or money! Please let me know what tools you use and I truly look forward to hearing your comments. All the best to you in 2010!