Google Alerts is a content change detection and notification service, offered by the search engine company Google. The service sends emails to the user when it finds new results—such as web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, or scientific research—that match the user’s search term.
How to set up Google Alerts
It’s not a trick question. Even though we firmly believe that Google Alerts aren’t enough anymore, there are still pretty good reasons to use the tool.
It’s free, It’s quick to set up, and you can use it to supplement your other tools.
In other words, you may as well try it out.
Start with your Goals
This is always the place to start with any marketing strategy. You need to know why you’re doing something to make sure you’re doing it right.
The biggest reason why any media monitoring strategy fails is that people don’t know what they want to achieve.
They just type in a few keywords – their brand name, their own name – and then hope to find something amazing.
Sadly, it doesn’t work like that.
First, you have to figure out what you want Google to track for you, and what you’re hoping to achieve. Your goals might include:
- Watching for negative mentions of your brand to react quickly
- Seeing what major blogs and news sites say about your competitors, and get them to say the same about you
- Tracking key terms within your industry to watch for changes and trends
- Finding new blogs and publications to contribute content to
It can be as simple as trying to see what people say about you.
Just prepare to be underwhelmed if you don’t set some realistic expectations before you start. Google Alerts isn’t designed to blow your mind – they’re here to assist you in fulfilling your goals.
So what can you expect from your alerts?
- Simple keyword monitoring. You’ll be able to track any keyword on the sources that Google tracks. That means blogs, forums, news sites, and the wider web. It also includes YouTube, since Google owns that platform.
- Mentions delivered to your inbox. GA will send every mention of these keywords to your email inbox. You can also view them at google.com/alert at any time.
- In real(ish) time. Google lets you choose the frequency at which you’ll receive them. One option is to get them as they happen. So as soon as your keywords are mentioned online, you’ll be notified (by email). You can also elect to receive all your mentions once per day, or once per week.
For a free service, that’s pretty good!
How to set up Google Alerts
It’s very easy to create useful Google Alerts. Here’s how it works:
- Go to google.com/alerts. Make sure you’re logged in with the Google account you want to use.
- Choose your keywords. Try to make them unique. Brand names like Apple and Orange are just going to bring back noise.
Select the frequency.
. The choice here is really “real-time or when I have time?” If you want to receive notifications in close to real-time, select “as it happens.”
Choose your sources.
Google Alerts doesn’t cover social media, but you can choose whether to track news, blogs, videos or even books.
How to make your alerts more effective
If they are simple to set up, there are so many ways to make mistakes in the process. So here are a few things to think about as you create your next alert.
Avoid generic, or common keywords
If you haven’t done this before, you might think that the more alerts you receive, the better. After all, you can’t do much until you have some mentions to look at.
Even if your brand name is unique, maybe you’d like to create a few broad alerts to monitor conversations in your industry – “footwear,” or “accounting,” for example.
Stop right there!
Having too many mentions is about as useful as having none at all. Your inbox will be flooded, and you’ll find yourself deleting them without even looking at them.
Stick to specific, precise keywords that you know will always be relevant to you. Even if it means you don’t get as many coming in.
Make more than one alert
Apparently, there’s a limit of 1,000 alerts per person (if you use a Gmail address). You’re never going to approach that limit. So make the most of them!
By creating tens, maybe more alerts, you can keep each incredibly precise, while still receiving a good number of alerts.
Suppose you want to monitor the negative comments made about your business. You could create individual alerts that include your brand name alongside certain keywords that are usually unkind:
- “My Brand” + hate
- “My Brand” + broken
- “My Brand” + worst
You’ll get specific notifications about your company that help you identify problems you need to solve.
Combine keywords and get creative
Do you ever use more than just a basic Google search when looking for information? There are a bunch of commands you can use to make your searches more interesting and more precise.
For instance, use speech marks to look for specific phrases, and then combine these with other keywords:
“Social media marketing” tips
“Social media marketing” ideas
Your alert will now return results containing this exact phrase, plus the other word(s) you’ve included.
Here’s a creative guide to making your Google Alerts more actionable, with some great ideas.
While Google Alerts are far from perfect, they do offer you a little room to narrow down your search. So why not put this to good effect?
Let’s say you’re trying to get traffic to your site, and you’d like to find guest blogging opportunities.
Try creating alerts using phrases like “write for us” or “how to contribute,” and then limit your Alerts to blogs.
You’ll remove a lot of the noise, and will be notified when new opportunities become available.
You can do the same for the specific languages you write in, or even in certain locations if your content has a local flavor.
You need to update, change add delete keywords along the way.
Do it today. It’s easy. It takes a few minutes but do it!!
- Article Credit – Mention.com