What Are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts is an extremely versatile online tool.  It can be used to help you with a wide variety of essential business activities:

  • Research important business topics
  • Monitor the activities of your competitors
  • Investigate what others are saying about your business.

It does this by tracking web keywords and phrases so that you never miss any important information. Google sends emails to your inbox whenever it finds a new result.

I can’t do a better job of expaining Google Alerts than Mathew Woodward in the Search Engine Journal.

He describes the various ways in which Google Alerts can be used to help with a wide range of monitoring activities.

Monitor Your Brand

Matthew Woodward is my brand. Any time my website or name is mentioned, I get an email direct to my inbox to alert me of that. This offers a great range of opportunities: I can get alerted to new discussions about my brand or if I have been mentioned somewhere without a link back to my site.

You can then take action by addressing the feedback and getting links added. These are the alerts I have set up to monitor my brand online:

matthew woodward

Monitor Competitors

In addition to monitoring your brand, you should also be looking at what your competition is doing. You could receive alerts of positive and/or negative feedback about your competitors or even alerts of new links that they have acquired. You can use Google Alerts to keep a close eye on their activity online and then leverage it to your advantage. I’m not going to publicly reveal who I monitor.  Just setup brand based alerts for all of your competitors.

Monitor Questions in Your Niche

This is great for driving traffic and building authority and loyal subscribers. You can monitor your niche for a range of question-based terms and then jump in and provide an expert answer with a link back to your site. Here are the alerts I use to monitor link building-related questions (but you can swap the phrase link building for anything you want):

How * link building
Is * link building
Can * link building
When * link building
Why * link building
Will * link building

(The asterisk is used as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms e.g  "a * saved is a * earned")

I have alerts like that set up for Link Building, SEO, Google Penalty, and so forth.

Every time I create a new piece of content that answers questions about a certain topic, I set up corresponding alerts so I can direct people to the answer.

Monitoring Content Distribution

If you have a cornerstone piece of content, then you can use Google Alerts to monitor mentions of the article across the Web. You can get an alert if someone talks about it on a forum or shares it in a blog comment somewhere. Again, this provides you with multiple opportunities to get involved and add to the discussion.

My http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/the-ultimate-guide-to-tiered-link-building-part-1/”>Ultimate Guide To Tiered Link Building video tutorial series has proved to be very popular, and I have alerts to monitor for mentions of it around the Web:

“ultimate guide to tiered link building”
“ultimate guide to link building”
“tiered link building part”

(When you put a word or phrase in quotes, the results will only include pages with the same words in the same order as the ones inside the quotes. Only use this if you’re looking for an exact word or phrase, otherwise you’ll exclude many helpful results by mistake.
Example: "imagine all the people")

Finding New Guest Post Opportunities

Most blogs that accept guest posts have a page telling you how to get in touch and submit a guest post. You can use Google Alerts to monitor a range of common footprints used on those blogs to let you know about new guest posting opportunities in your niche. Here’s what I have set up:

“write for us” SEO
“submit guest post” SEO
“bloggers wanted” SEO
“become a contributor” SEO
“this guest post” SEO
“become an author” SEO

Monitoring Link Building Footprints

There are a lot of platforms out there that you can use to get links from. Commenting on WordPress blogs is a great way to establish traffic, authority, and relevant backlinks, but we can take this a step further. WordPress plugins, such as KeywordLuv and CommentLuv, will let us drop keyword-based anchor texts with links back to our most recent posts. This offers a lot more benefit than a regular blog comment, but how do we use Google Alerts to find these opportunities automatically? Here are my alerts:

SEO +”CommentLuv enabled”
SEO +”enter yourname@yourkeywords” -intitle:”enter yourname@yourkeywords”
link building +”CommentLuv enabled”
link building +”enter yourname@yourkeywords” -intitle:”enter yourname@yourkeywords”

That’s just an example of monitoring the KeywordLuv and CommentLuv WordPress plugins for the keywords SEO and Link Building. There are lots of different platforms you can target this way, just find a common footprint and set up an alert.

Monitoring Site Security

I have had sites hacked on a few occasions in the past. Some hackers chose to inject hidden links in footers, while others go all out creating thousands of junk pages. Usually, the first time you notice this is when your site completely disappears out of the SERPs. You can use Google Alerts to monitor for any suspicious activity on your site, so you can take action before you get penalized. Set up an alert like this to monitor your site:

site:matthewwoodward.co.uk acne OR botox OR casino OR dating OR debt OR insurance OR mortgage OR paxil OR pharmacy OR phentamine OR pherimones OR poker OR porn OR OR roulette sex OR viagara OR viagra OR xxx

Obviously, if your site is about getting into debt buying viagra in an online casino, then you need to tweak the keywords in my alert above.

Monitoring Shoppers

If you run an e-commerce store, you can set up a series of alerts that will drop you an email every time a shopper is ready to buy a product in your niche. With the right alerts, you can target people who have made the decision of buying a product but haven’t actually bought it yet. Zing! Here are some laptop-based examples:

laptop * under *
* laptop under *
laptop under *
cheapest laptop *
cheap laptop *
buy laptop * cheap
best price * laptop
* laptop * price

Regional Based Monitoring

If your a local business, then you can use a range of search terms to monitor for shoppers in your immediate local area who are looking to buy. You can get in touch with them and convert them into a sale without having to move! Here are some examples to find people looking for laptops in London:

london laptop *
laptop * london
london * laptop

Discovering New Niches

How would you like alerts of hot, new, and emerging niches landing in your inbox on a daily basis? Consider setting up alerts like:

new * this year
new * 2012
will * 2012
what will happen *

How to Setup Google Alerts

Setting up Google Alerts is very easy and takes seconds to do. This is what the form looks like:

In the Search Query box, you can enter the term you want be alerted for. Have a look at my examples above and see which ones you can utilize for your site.

In the Result Type box, I always select to receive alerts for everything.

The How Often box allows you to choose between once a week, once a day, or as it happens. I change this based on what I want to achieve. For example, I want alerts about site security as it happens, but only want new guest post opportunities every week.

In the How Many box, I always choose All Results to make sure I don’t miss anything.

The Deliver To box, lets you choose to have the alerts delivered via email or RSS. I tend to have things like brand-related alerts delivered by email and have link building opportunities delivered via RSS in Google Reader.

Once you have set everything up, you will get new alerts forever! It might take an hour or so to set up, but it is worth every minute of your time, and you can set up as many alerts as you want.

Think Out of the Box

Now that you understand the true power of Google Alerts, take a step back and think about unique ways you could apply them to your business or website. There are thousands of different ways you could use it over and above what I have discussed in this post. Think out of the box and be creative with your alerts! It is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal, so make sure you take full advantage of it.

How Do You Use Google Alerts?

So now you know how I use Google Alerts to build authority, brand, traffic, and sales to my SEO blog & video tutorials. Do you have a Google Alerts strategy that I haven’t discussed? Will you be integrating Google Alerts into your online strategy?

Alternatives to Google Alerts
There are alternatives to Google Alerts:
  • Mention
  • Social Mention
  • Talkwalker Alerts
  • Topsy
  • Meltwater News
Find out more about these at Make Tech Easier. However, I suggest you start by experimenting with Googe Alerts first.
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