Remember the humorous saying; stay alert, the world needs more lerts? I recently started using Google Alerts and I'm beginning to think this is one lert the world (or at least me) can do without.
The purpose of Google Alerts is to enter any word, words or phrases into the alert box and Google Alerts will inform you every time the words appear somewhere new on the internet. I have two alerts set up. One is meant to inform me everytime my real name, David Arandle, is used online whilst the other informs me everytime the phrase, The Extraordinary Tourist, is used.
The idea being that I can be alerted when people online write about me (because as a professional artist knowing who's writing about you can be a very valuable marketing tool).
The problem being that, ever since I set these alerts up, Google Alert has set about informing me of things that, not only did I already know about but also things that I actually set up and wrote myself. For example, recently Google Alerts informed me of my Artwanted portfolio that I set up several years ago and have a link to from my own web site.
I can understand that Google Alerts might pick up a lot of old references when you first set them up. I can also understand that there's no real way to tell if it was me or someone else that created the references that Google is alerting me to. However the latest alert that I received just this morning really brings the service into question. Allow me to explain...
I got up this morning to discover that Australian Artist, Hazel Dooney, had written about me in her blog, Self vs Self, in a post titled Google-eyed (I'm going to have to stop mentioning Hazel but I didn't pick this chain of events). Her post, in the first paragraph, contains both my Google Alerts i.e. David Arandle and The Extraordinary Tourist. No alert from Google despite Hazel's blog being on blogger.com (which is owned by Google).
I then write a post, Artists Obituaries - What Will Yours Say?, which links to the above mentioned Dooney post but does not contain either of my names. Within the hour, sitting in my email, is a Google Alert informing me of a reference to The Extraordinary Tourist with a link to my blog posts individual page which has The Extraordinary Tourist written just above the post (true - follow the link to see for yourself. The Extraordinary Tourist is written at the top of all my blog's sub pages).
That's like putting a shirt on in the morning and then having someone later in the day inform you you're wearing a shirt. Like you didn't know?
Hazel actually wrote her post some time Thursday night (September 4th). As of Friday at 5:30pm central Aussie time I still haven't received a Google Alert about it. (In case you were wondering how I found out about Hazel's post, I'm subscribed to her blog feed). Not that I need to be alerted now but, when you know about a definite and very recent reference to yourself, and Google Alerts doesn't tell you, well you have to question how useful the service is.
You especially have to question it when Google Alerts alerts you to an even more recent reference to your name that you created yourself.
It would not surprise me if I got a Google Alert about this post before I got one about Hazel's.