Q. To keep current, I regularly do Internet searches on my company’s products, customers and competitors, but that takes a lot of time. Is there some way to program the computer to do such searches on a regular basis?
A. Google, the Internet search engine, recently introduced a beta product called Google Alerts (see screenshot below). It’s a free service that automatically does what you’re now doing manually.
Just provide Alerts with the key words for your queries and tell it how often you want to be alerted (once a week, once a day or as it happens) and whether you want to search the news, the Web or both. Alerts will send you an e-mail with every new thing it uncovers. To engage the service, go to www.googlealert.com .
When I first discovered it, I signed up and entered my last name to test it. Within days it alerted me that a long-lost cousin had just won an award as a sports coach and confirmed that I write for the Journal of Accountancy .