4 Essential Uses of Google Alerts

chipYou have a great business with a great reputation. Wouldn’t you like to know when something about you or your company has been found on the internet? This is where Google Alerts come in. There are millions of web pages being added to the Google database daily. With all of the new web pages, blog posts, etc, there is new information coming in every second of the day. When you subscribe to Google Alerts for  a keyword or keyword phrase Google will send you an email informing you when the Google bot has found something based on your keyword or keyword phrase.

What can you use Google Alerts for? You can keep track of your company and seeing what people are saying about you or y our product. If someone puts your link on their website, you will be notified. You can keep track of your competition by tracking their keywords. If they put out new content, you will be notified. This allows you to keep up with your competition and allows you to plan accordingly.

Here are 4 quick ways to use Google Alerts.

Note that you’ll need to have a Google login to use the service.

For each Alert, you’ll need to decide the following:

  • The syntax / content of the search This is simply the Google search query that you’d insert in the search box (i.e., “my topic” or “my name” or simply: words without quotes) To get more accurate results, you will want to utilize some of the Advanced Search options (+, -, “”, or, not)or Search Operators (link:, site:) to narrow down the search. For example, if you wanted a search on digital camera but wanted to make sure it returned results only when they were talking about a nikon you might insert: digital camera +nikon.
  • How often the alert should be sent (as-it-happens, once a day, once a week). Google will send notifications only when it actually finds new material in the top 20 (web) / 10 (news) results, so you won’t be getting messages unless there’s something to report. For a topic that you want to keep an eye on but it’s not urgent, you might select “once a week” or if you wanted to be notified quickly, “as it happens”.
  • How you’d like to receive the alerts (email or via RSS feed) For each alert you create, a separate email will be sent depending on how often you’ve chosen to receive it. You can also subscribe to the alert via RSS feed in Google Reader instead of email.
  • Type of information to search This tells Google which information to include in its search (News, Blogs, Web, Comprehensive, Video, Groups) You can decide to search only blogs, or just news, or videos, depending on your needs.

Here are some suggestions for some Google Alerts to set up if you’re just getting started:

  1. Do a “vanity search” for your name, nickname and/or your blog’s name to find out when your name or your blog is mentioned by someone else. This can be helpful especially if someone mentions your blog or name but doesn’t link to you (like example below).
    • Syntax: “first last” or first last or nickname
    • Create a Google Alert for each of the following: your name (first and last), your blog’s name (not URL), your “handle” or nickname if it’s unique, and your Twitter username. If you have a common name, make sure you put your entire name in quotes.
  2. Track incoming links to your site Insert your blog’s URL to track any links from other sites to your site.
    • Syntax: link:www.yourdomain.com
    • For all links to your site, insert your URL at the highest level where you have content. If you want to track incoming links to a particular post, you can enter in the exact post’s URL. Note: since Google recently started indexing blogrolls people have displayed on their sites, sometimes you’ll get alerts when someone who lists you in their blogroll posts a new blog post. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re linked in the post’s content, and I suspect that Google will try to repair this soon.
  3. Keep your eye on your favorite topics Possibly my favorite type of alert as it’s like a personal news service that is not restricted in any way. You can let your imagination run wild with it. I find it a great way to do research on a topic as well as see articles/posts that are talking about a subject that interests me.
    • Syntax: keywords that interest you or “specific keywords” or word notthiswordor spelling OR another-spelling OR another
    • I find these alerts are best refined over time as you can use the Advanced Search options(+, -, “”, or, not) or Search Operators (link:, site:) to narrow and refine the search to get exactly what you want.
  4. Get notified of spam links inserted in your site – This last alert is a little different from the rest, because it uses the site: operator to look for links inside your own site.
    Syntax: site:www.yourdomain.com viagra OR cialis OR otherspamword

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