You go to the Internet once in a while to search for specific information related to the pressing problem that you are confronted with at the moment. You then use your intuition and common sense to make sense of the variety of information available and select the source that you think provides you with helpful and original data that can aid you in solving your problem. Most of the time, however, you don't have anything specific to search on and wander aimlessly from one site to another, without any direction at all. This could result in a complete waste of time with no valuable insight gained in your web surfing.
To be sure, big search engines allow you to customize a web page based on your interests. You can, for example, go to your own My Yahoo and customize the page based on what you're interested in and on what Yahoo can offer. You can pretty much do the same thing with Google and MSN. However, much of what the search engines are offering may not be suited to your liking or not particularly tailored to your needs. There is very little that you can do customize the information that you want to receive on a regular basis.
You wanted the variety and flexibility of information that you get when you do a search on your favorite search engine. You wanted the most popular and the most current information on your particular subject of interest. And you don't want annoying advertisements that you cannot remove from your customized portal page. Now, say goodbye to wandering aimlessly in cyberspace and to the limited flexibility in creating your customized search engine page. You can make most use of the limited time you have for Internet surfing by focusing on the specific topics that you want to be updated regularly on. If you have a Google email address, then you already have the only thing you need to stay on top of your topic of interest.
Go to www.google.com/alerts and logon with your Google email address. On the Create Alert page, try different search queries for your topic of interest and once you find the best results, go ahead and create a new alert for that topic. You can select what result type, how often you want to be alerted, and how many results you want to receive.
When you have had a few alerts already working, you can modify or remove alerts by clicking on the Manage your alerts button. Click on the Edit button to change any parameter for that particular alert. To remove an alert, put a check mark on the alert and click the Delete button. Make a new alert by clicking on the Create a New Alert button. Click on a search query to check on the latest results without using your email.
The key to getting the best quality information available is to carefully craft your search query to most closely match the information that you're looking for. Try the different formulations and permutations of your search query first and examine closely the initial results that Google Alerts gives you. When you have found the best initial results, you can go on and create an alert for that particular subject matter.
Use a few Google search operators to more precisely target the search results you are looking for. You can for example put your search query inside of double quotes to tell Google that you want the search phrase to appear exactly in the document that you are looking for. Putting a minus sign before a word in your search query tells Google to exclude documents where that particular word appears. To limit the search on a specific site, prepend your search query with site:. Look for more search operators that you can use by making a Google search for them.
Don't waste your time by just relying on what you can find in your customized portal page or your browser's home page. Use Google Alerts with your email to keep abreast of the latest developments in your areas of interest. If you feel you are getting off-tangent information from Google Alerts, you can always modify your search query to change the results you're getting. You can easily delete an alert that you think you're no longer interested on and create a new one that reflects your current needs.