How to set up Google alerts to automate your research

Learn how to use one of the most powerful research assistants, for free.


Google Alerts is a free service creators can use to automate their research process.

No matter the content you're creating (e.g., blog, newsletter, YouTube channel, etc.), setting up automatic alerts will save you time. Here’s how:

  • Stay up to date with real-time industry news updates.
  • Get a curated feed of what your competitors are publishing, straight to your email inbox.
  • Receive notifications every time your name, brand, or product is mentioned online.

In addition to these benefits, advanced options can help you seize opportunities untapped opportunities. You can discover more below, but first — here's exactly how to set up a Google Alert.

Google Alerts set up in 3 steps

Google Alerts homepage
Preview of Google Alerts homepage.
  1. Start by going to https://www.google.com/alerts
  2. In the search bar, enter a word, topic, or phrase. This tells Google what to collect and send you.
  3. Next, you’ll be shown two options: Create Alert and Show options. If you want to receive everything about your subject on a daily basis, you can leave the defaults in place and click Create Alert.

That’s it! Now, you’ll receive a daily email that looks like the one below, but about your specific topic.

google alerts email example
Sample alert email listing sources found.

How to customize Google Alerts

If you would like to refine your alerts or change how often you receive them, Google allows you to customize these elements and more by clicking on Show options. You can modify existing alerts at any time by clicking the pencil icon located next to your topic or deleting them by clicking the trash icon.

Google alert customizations
You can customize multiple options for each alert.

Here is a list of the different customizations you can choose for your alerts.

  • How often: As-it-happens, Daily, Weekly
  • Sources: Automatic, News, Blogs, Web, Video, Books, Discussions, Finance
  • Language: Any Language, English, + 45 specific languages
  • Region: Any, + Full list of individual countries
  • How many: Only the best results, All results
  • Deliver to: Email connected to your account, RSS feed

There are two additional customizations that are especially useful if you have multiple alerts.

Click on the gear icon in the main area, where all of your alerts are displayed.

Google alerts gear icon
The gear icon is located in the right corner, atop any alerts you may already have.

Next, you’ll see two options appear.

  1. Delivery time. This allows you to choose the exact hour of the day your notifications will be sent.
  2. Digest. You can also choose to have Google wrap all your alerts into a single daily or weekly email.

Both of these selections help prevent your inbox from being bombarded too often and by too much information.

Advanced tips for Google Alerts

A Google Alert is essentially an automatic Google search performed on your behalf. Because of this, almost any techniques you would use to find better results can also be used to create more relevant alerts.

Here are a few ways you could use Google’s search operators with Google Alerts.

  • Exclude words by using (example: pizza –pepperoni)
  • Gather results from a specific social media platform with @ (@twitter, @facebook) or for a specific trend with # (#mondaymotivation)
  • Use “” to ensure your alerts return an exact phrase match
  • Detail the type of results you want by setting additional requirements (example: jam + intitle:recipe)
  • Focus your results on a specific source or competitor (site:ghost.org/resources + “newsletter”)
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A complete guide to creator research. Read this article for more tips on how to streamline your process. You'll also find a section that covers Google's search operators more in-depth.

5 ways to start using Google Alerts right away

Adding a new tool to your process can be intimidating; it could even add to your workload if misused. To keep you on the right track, here are 5 Google Alerts we recommend setting up first.

Set up a Google Alert for your full name.

This will keep you informed any time you’re mentioned online. Be sure to use “”  (“Jane Doe”) so that the results are more accurate. If you have a middle name, you can set up additional alerts for variations or use the OR search operator (“Jane Doe” OR “Jane S. Doe” OR “Jane Sarah Doe”).

set up Google alert for name

Get a weekly digest of a single keyword.

Create an alert for the subject you make content about; the more specific, the better (i.e., "budgeting tips" instead of “personal finance”). Then, customize the frequency so that you only receive the email summary once per week.

Customize google alert frequency

Monitor mentions of your company.

This is a great one whether you're a business owner or an employee. Set up the Google Alert by typing in the brand name and adding any additional elements you want, such as limiting the sources to news outlets.

news only google alerts

Credit goes to the Ahrefs team for suggesting this tip. Forums and sites like Quora can be great traffic sources for growing your audience but wading through pages of unrelated questions can be exhausting.

Thankfully, you can use a Google Alert to do the searching for you and only deliver you the questions worth your time. Start by writing the topic followed by the site or forum URL and end with a few question markers: [topic] + site:[website.com] + intitle:(who|what|when|where|how) See an example in this screenshot.

advanced google alerts setup

Leverage wildcard results.

Leverage wildcard results. When you’re not 100% sure what to set alerts for, this strategy is handy. To use a wildcard, input a * where a term would go. This tells Google that anything can replace the * so long as the other words are used.

wildcard google alerts
Our wildcard example returned various results such as laptops, time, templates, and design tools.

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