Email alerts can be very helpful because many sites that you may want to monitor might not have RSS feeds. As well, some sites may provide too much information for an RSS feed, and therefore including these in an email can make life easier. I have experimented with two different email alerts: Google's Google Alerts and GoogleAlert. They sound identical, but they are different. The former is operated by Google, while the latter is run by a professional company. Note that the first one has an "s" at the end and the second one doesn't. Yahoo also offers a similar service with Yahoo! Alerts.
Google Alerts is awesome. It is free, very easy to sign up, and customizable. Google does not restrict the number of alerts you can sign up for. Currently, I am signed up for 4 different queries: "Apple Inc.", "iPod", "iPhone", and "Mac". And you can also choose how often the alert is sent to you:
- As it happens
- Once a day
- Once a week
For instance, because my "Apple Inc." query receives a lot of news, I have it sent every day. Here is a short clip of what's in a typical email from my "Apple Inc." query:
I initially had my "iPod", "iPhone", and "Mac" queries sent daily as well. While the news it provided was very interesting, this was an unnecessarily large amount of information for me to read every day, so I changed these three feeds to weekly. It is certainly up to you how often you want to receive the email alerts and I would recommend trying all the different options to see what works best for you. One nice feature about email alerts is that because it is sent in the form of an email, you can easily ignore the alerts if you don't have time that day.
Google Alert (not the company Google) wasn't as helpful. I created two alerts using the queries "Apple" and "Apple Inc.", and while they provide an adequate amount of information in each email, the emails are only sent once or twice a week. The main reason for this is because I only have the free, trial version. I am personally satisfied with the amount of information I receive from Google Alerts (the other email alert) as well as all of my other resources, and therefore I never felt the need to purchase/upgrade Google Alert. However, you may feel differently and want to upgrade to a premium version (which would give you more results), it's completely up to you.