If you win a prize, the sponsor is sure to let you know that you've won, right? Well, kind of. Some prize notification methods are hard to overlook, but others are much more subtle.
For example, some sweepstakes only announce winners on their websites, and if you don't visit their site and speak up to claim your prize, you forfeit it.
Or you might receive a prize notification in your email, but it gets sent to your spam folder or you overlook the email, and the claim date passes before you find it. Oops, there goes your prize!
If only someone had told you that your name was listed as a winner, right?
Well, Google.com can do that. If you sign up for the free Google Alerts service, you can be notified any time that the search engine sees your name on the internet. So if a company lists you as a winner on their website, you could receive an alert to let you know.
Google Alerts are a very useful tool to help you ensure that you never miss a win notification. Find out how to use them in 7 easy steps:
Visit the Google Alerts Web Page
- To get started, visit the Google Alerts web site ( www.google.com/alerts ) into your web browser.
Enter a Search Term in the "Create an Alert About..." Field
- A good place to start is with your full name. To ensure that you only receive results that include your exact name, put your name in quotes, like this: "Sandra Grauschopf". If you have a common name, this is an excellent idea.
Since this name is pretty rare, she leaves the quotes off. This can result in some false positives, but it also ensures that she'll receive the result should a website list a variation of her name, like Grauschopf, Sandra.
Click on "Show Options"
- After you enter your main search term, click on "Show options" to filter the results you'll receive.
Select the Type of Reports to Receive
- You can choose to receive a notification when your search term shows up in specific types of web pages. For example, you can receive a report only when your name appears on web pages, in the news section, in Google Groups, or in blogs. I recommend using the "comprehensive" setting, which will send your results no matter where they are posted online.
Specify How Often You Want to Receive Notifications
- You can choose to receive alerts as the search engine finds references, once a day, or once a week. If you receive a lot of alerts, you might want to choose the daily or weekly option. Personally, I like to get alerts about prize wins as they happen.
You can also choose to narrow the alerts to a specific region (if you only enter U.S. sweepstakes, you might want to receive alerts only from U.S. websites, for instance). I also advise starting out with the options to receive "all results" and not just the "best results" to ensure that even small websites that mention you will come up.
Select an Email Address
- Google will send a notice every time it finds your search term to an email address that you specify. Don't worry, Google doesn't use this email address for advertising or other purposes, so use one that you check often.
- Once you press submit, you will be taken to a list of all of the alerts that you have already created.
- Sandra Grauschopf
- "Sandra G."
- Grauschopf Sandra
- 123 Main Street
Create More Alerts
- Click on the New Alert button on the bottom right-hand side of the alert listing page to make more alerts. Aside from your first and last name, you might also want to create alerts for your sweepstakes email address, your first name and last initial, your street address, and any usernames that you frequently use to enter sweepstakes. For example, I might set up the following Google alerts: Follow the same steps as above for each alert.
- Note that there is a company called GoogleAlert that provides the same service for a fee. I do NOT recommend this company. Google Alerts provided by the Google Search Engine are totally free, so make sure that you use the link above.
- Read the Google Search Tips page to learn how to use wildcards, negative keywords, and other tricks to refine your search and get the results you're looking for.
- Google Alerts can also be used to keep yourself informed about any subject that interests you. For example, if you set an alert for "contests.com" you will receive email alerts when I add information to the site. You can also create alerts for your business, your favorite movie star or television show, whatever topic you'd like to stay informed about.
- If Google Alerts isn't working as well as you had hoped, check out How to Solve Common Problems with Google Alerts for more tips.
What You Need:
- Web browser
- Internet connection