Miryelle Resek | Jul 21, 2017

How to Use Google Alerts for Genealogy

This is the first of a two-part series exploring how to use Google alerts in your genealogy research. Read part two.

Do you regularly get online and hope to find something new about your ancestors? Do you ever wish you could just get a notification letting you know if any new information has been added to the web?

Google Alerts is the solution you’re looking for.

In her RootsTech 2017 presentation, Katherine Willson, a professional genealogist, discussed how to set up effective Google alerts to help you find what you’re looking for with your genealogical research.

What are Google Alerts?

“Google Alerts is a free email notification system that will inform you when new information is added to the internet matching your stated criteria,” said Willson.

For example, if you create a Google alert for your ancestor’s name, you’ll receive an email notification every time someone mentions the name online or new information relating to the name is uploaded. For many family historians, this is a welcomed service.

“It’s absolutely free,” said Willson. “This is like having your own personal courier service, and you don’t even have to tip a driver. It just comes to you.”

How to Create Google Alerts

The first thing Willson recommends is to create a Google account in order to better manage the alerts.

Once you’re logged in to your Google account, go to google.com/alerts.


From here, consider adding a Google alert for each of your ancestors—especially the ones you’re struggling to find information about.


Once you click on the blue Create Alert button you’ll be taken back to the original Google Alerts homepage, where you can continue to add in your ancestor’s names.


As you continue to add names, you’ll eventually have a list of people you want to be alerted about.


From here you can click the pencil icon in order to control the alerts you get.


You can control how often you want a notification about your result.


You can modify where you want the results to pull from, for example, blog pages, news pages, web sources, videos, books, online discussions, or finance pages.


You can also modify the language you want your results to come in.


You can modify the region you want your results to come from.


You can also determine if you want any results in connection to your search or if you want only the ones that match it best.


From there click on the Update alert button in order to save your custom alert settings.


Once you have your preferences saved, click on the mechanical icon gear.


This will give you the ability to control when you will receive alerts and how often you will be notified.


How have you used Google Alerts in your research? Tweet us @RootsTechConf to join the conversation.

Miryelle Resek

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