Sunday, 24 January 2010

Google Alerts for @ciliphw

Yesterday I spent a happy afternoon creating some Google Alerts for a local library news feed (eventually this will go through @ciliphw). After playing about a bit with a few searches I decided on using Google Alerts because you can restrict your search to particular sources (e.g. Portsmouth News or Basingstoke Gazette). What I was finding if I tried a normal Google Search using keywords (like "hampshire) to restrict the search was that you just get a load of stuff that's not really relevant. I was really after news from local papers and Google Alerts indexes local papers and allows you to specify which papers you search.

The first step was to decide which papers to look for. The next step was to find out what Google Alerts calls them and create a search. For each newspaper I created an alert looking for articles containing any of the words "library" "libraries" "librarian" or "CILIP". For some papers I could see a few results and check that the articles were sort of relelvant. Others hadn't published anything on libraries recently so didn't display any results. In these cases I double checked that I had the source name right by taking out the key words. If the search then displayed other articles published in that paper I could be confident that I had the source name right and then put the keywords back in to create the alert.

Google Alerts allows you to output your alert either as an email or as a feed. I opted for feed but didn't change any of the other settings. This proved to be a mistake as, when I checked on the feeds this morning they'd picked up a load of (seemingly random) stuff. I think the answer is that Google Alerts can be restricted to certain media (e.g. Newspapers) or "Comprehensive". As I'd left the option set as comprehensive I think that (even though I'd restricted the search to a particular news source in each case) as well as picking up newspaper artciles the search was also picking up blogs and other sources. Now I've changed that setting to "News" so hopefully, when I check the feeds later they'll just contain published local news articles. Hopefully.

Once the feeds are looking right I can plug them into @ciliphw via TwitterFeed...

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