Setting up Google Alerts to Stay in the Know
Using Google Alerts can keep you in the know about news related to your industry, enabling you to handle your own local SEO analysis — for free. You can find out what people are posting online about your company and also stay up to date on competitor announcements and trending topics among your customers. This notification system automatically tells subscribers when their search terms appear online at news sites, blogs, community forums and other locations.
One way to use this service is to watch for business opportunities. For example, the day after Humberto Rodriguez, owner of court reporting firm SOS Litigation, set up a Google Alert, he got an email notifying him about a new lawsuit. He reached out to congratulate the lawyer, offering his company’s services, and ended up with a new contract. “It cost nothing to my business,” Rodriguez said, “but [subscribing to Google Alerts] resulted in thousands of dollars of work.
- Setting up a new alert is quick and easy:
- Go to the Google Alerts homepage.
- Type in a search term. Preview the results in the “Google Alerts for today” window on the right.
- Choose where you want results pulled from: Everything or News, Blogs, Video, Discussions, Books.
- Select how often you want to receive hits: daily, weekly or as-it-happens.
- Tell Google whether you want “All results” or “only the best results.”
- Enter your email address.
- Click on “Create Alert.”
- Google Alerts will send a confirmation to your email account. Click on the link to verify your alert request.
Choosing search terms and using results
Staying informed about where and how your company is being referenced online can help you manage and respond to your brand’s public presence. Knowing what’s being posted about your competitors and target customers can help you stay relevant and competitive.
Here are some possible keywords to enter for your Google Alerts along with ideas for how you might be able to use the results you get:
Your personal name: Carefully managing your online presence is important in the modern world of nearly no privacy. Especially if you’re a leader or client-facing element in your business and your career depends on maintaining a certain public persona, you should assume that your clients and prospects are checking up on you once in a while. Make sure they find content that puts you in a positive light.
Names of executives or employees at your company: If you’re trying to establish certain people in your company as industry thought leaders or you want to monitor customer reviews of front-line employees, for example, using individual names can help you keep an ear to the ground.
Your company’s name: Alerts that tell you when your company is mentioned on a website or blog can help you monitor performance of communication campaigns and respond quickly to any negative information being circulated about your business.
Business website or blog URL (yourwebsite.com): Monitoring references to your URLs tells you when and where folks are linking to your site and gives you an opportunity to reach out with a thank you!
Names of products or services you sell: Staying current on who’s talking about your particular brand or the type of product you sell can help you manage leads, move quickly on damage control, or request a link back to your site to improve your online search rankings.
Names of competitor companies: Stay privy to what people are saying about your competitors to ensure you know how the playing field is changing and, in the case of negative coverage, to capitalize on their mistakes — even if just to avoid making them yourself!
Industry terms: You can use certain terms to generate leads for your business. For example, if your company sells residential generators, you may want to search for news stories about storms or other events that may lead to electrical outages.
When analyzing your results, just keep in mind, in case you’re zoning out a little, that this is a Google service; only content from Google’s search engine is included in search results provided by Google Alerts. It doesn’t capture everything.