30 January 2014

Google Alerts: When Only the Best Apparently Isn't

One of the advantages of having unusual surnames in your background is that most people are related to you. 

One of the advantages of having Google alerts is that the internet will do your searching for you.

Just be careful.

A first cousin of my father's passed away last week, Ragene (Trautvetter) Wartick. Her obituary was on the local funeral home's website the day after her death. Her obituary appeared in local and regional newspapers at varying times over the next week. Her obituary and burial information was posted to FindAGrave and on Legacy.com

I found the obituary on the funeral home myself because an acquaintance and my mother told me of Mrs. Wartick's death. The name of Trautvetter is mentioned in every obituary. 

I have a Google alert for Trautvetter as shown below:

All the email alerts I received for "trautvetter" in the week or so after the obituaries began to appear did not include the Wartick obituary.

I performed a Google search for "trautvetter wartick" just to make certain Google was indexing the pages where the obituary appeared. I didn't want to scroll through the thousands of "trautvetter" hits just to make my points. This notices appeared in my results as shown below--so Google was getting to the pages.

Google just wasn't alerting me to the pages. The pages should have appeared in my alerts with a day or two after they were posted online as my alert is set to email me daily. The only reason I can determine for the obiuaries not showing up as "new pages" was that I had the volume of results set to "only the best results." That's the only explanation I can think of for why the obituaries did not appear in an alert. I set the alert for "only the best results" because I didn't want to get total junk and links to pages that posted random content just to generate web traffic. I guess that's not going to get me the pages that I want...apparently Google doesn't consider an obituary a "best" result.

So I'll change my settings and see if more results come my way--especally obituaries.
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