Imagine an advanced web monitoring software solution that pulls data straight from Google, monitors your brand and competitors, mines information about your industry and helps locate guest post opportunities – all without costing you a dime.
That tool is Google Alerts.
I first started tapping into the potential of Alerts when looking for a web monitoring/listening solution to allow our smaller clients to take advantage of the wealth of opportunity web monitoring offers. Now, I honestly couldn’t be without it.
A lot of people don’t realize what a power tool Google Alerts is. Here’s a look at how to get started making the most of this gift from Google.
Setting up alerts
You don’t need to be an expert to set up Google Alerts. But for any newbies, we’ll walk through it. First, head to http://www.google.com/alerts.
- Enter your search query, or one of mine as I will outline shortly.
- Result type: I normally use everything, to ensure nothing slips through the net, but different alerts can be used for different purposes.
- How often: I normally go for once a day, but if you are looking to do some serious brand
monitoring, you can return results in real time.
- How many: Again you have a choice, if you pick only the best results, Google filters according to relevancy. I normally pick everything and choose to sift through myself.
- Deliver to: Your email address.
Uses for Google Alerts
So how exactly do I have my alerts set up, and what is the purpose?
I use my Google Alerts for hunting out those all-important guest post opportunities and for monitoring my company, my clients, competitors, our niche and our content.
Let’s look at each Google Alerts strategy in detail, and remember – this is just scratching the surface. You can work out relevant terms for your brand or clients using the formulas shown here as a starting point.
Guest post opportunities
We all know the benefits of guest post opportunities, not just for the value they offer in SERPs, but also the brand exposure and web traffic a relevant post can generate.
My main industry is social media, so I will use this as an example to outline the alerts I have set up:
- “write for us” social media
- “guest post” social media
- “bloggers wanted” social media
- “become an author” social media
It needn’t stop at social media either. Any keyword related to social media can be used to return a landslide of results.
Although there are a wealth of awesome brand and keyword monitoring solutions available such as Raven, I still like to take source data from Google to compare and ensure nothing slips through the net. I monitor both my company and my clients, using the following formulas:
- my social agency
Competitor monitoring is especially important, as it allows you to have a good look at what your competition are up to. If they post a guest article somewhere online, the link-building opportunities flow in.
Turbocharge your link building by using the exact same terms as above for your top four or five Google competitors, adding in a “guest post” related term set.
It’s especially important to keep an eye on your niche. Find out where the conversation is happening and be a part of it. After all, you are an expert in what you do and no doubt have a lot to offer. It’s just a matter of drilling down to the conversation and finding where it is happening.
A selection of terms I use for my niche to return great monitoring results:
- “how ” social media
- “help” social media
- “why” social media
- “what” social media
This is one that can return a lot of noise, but it is worth sifting through to find those golden nugget opportunities to share your experience as an expert in your field.
The last element of my monitoring system revolves around content. If you have a targeted blog post, a web video that you are pushing to go viral, or just want to see those credit-less shares, you can use a selection of the following to get a result.
I have used a blog post we produced last year about getting the new Facebook profile as an example. This got shared well and we like to see why it is still being shared some 12 months after timeline launched, so these are the terms we use to pick up mentions of it.
- url – www.mysocialagency.com/social-media/how-to-get-the-new-look-facebook-profile
- get the new look facebook
- new look facebook profile
- how to get the new look facebook profile
It is also useful to pick up on what others are using this title for, to ensure we keep it on top of Google.
Controlling your Alerts
The final step revolves around organizing your inbox to cope with the landslide of emails coming in from your alerts.
Let’s use Gmail as an example, although these filter rules are relevant for any mail client you might want to use.
- Head to ‘settings’ in the top right corner.
- Create a new filter
- Add ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
For subject, add the term you entered into Google Alerts. (So I would use my brand name as an example: ‘mysocialagency’.)
And that’s it. You have now set up a filter and can view your alerts according to the subject.
It might not look pretty, but what you are left with is a comprehensive, free and accurate web-monitoring dashboard.
Photo by woodleywonderworks