Google Alerts graphic

How to get the most out of Google Alerts

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Assuming that Google hangs around in Australia for a little while longer (!) (referencing the current battle over the news media bargaining code) – I wanted to talk about about a great little tool on Google that’s been around for ages but you might want to revisit.  As we noted in a previous post, Google Alerts are notifications that are sent to you via email when the search engine comes across a keyword or keyword phrase that you’ve asked them to track.

There’s no charge for the service, and many businesses sign up for Alerts in order to monitor and respond to what’s being written about their company or products in reviews, articles and blogs across the web.

However, you can use Alerts to track all kinds of things, including competitor names (great for keeping an eye on what your rivals are up to) and common industry terms, so that you can stay up-to-date on changes and developments in your market. You can also adjust your settings to limit how often you receive emails, focus on a particular region, or restrict Alerts to a particular type of content, such as blog posts or videos.

And since the only thing better than getting free online tools is getting the most you can out of those tools, here are three additional ways your business can use Google Alerts to their full advantage:

1. Check for plagiarism

If you’ve been spending the time and effort necessary to create great content for your website, you’ll want to make sure no one else is ‘borrowing’ it and using it as their own. To make sure your content isn’t showing up anywhere you haven’t approved, insert a line of unique text from any of your online works (within double quotes) in the Search query Google should recognise if the text appears anywhere besides your site and will show you results. Then you can explore further and take action, if needed.

2. Find new customers

When a prospect begins doing online research before making a purchase, they’re likely to review and post questions online. For instance, Q&A sites and forums like Reddit and Quora often include questions like “Where can I buy ‘green gizmos’?” If you sell green gizmos and have an alert set up, you can immediately follow up, provide an answer and offer details on how to reach your store or website. Also, if you have Alerts set up for the names of competitors, you can find out what prospects are asking and saying about the Customers who have a problem with a product or are unhappy about a purchase are likely to vent their frustration online. Keeping track of this allows you to identify new opportunities (and possibly new customers) and learn from your competitors’ mistakes.

3. Get content ideas

By keeping an eye on questions that customers have about your company and/or the products you offer, you can get relevant answers on your website. For instance, if you see questions pop up about how to use a particular item you sell, put that question and an answer on your product or FAQ page. You can also respond in a blog or social media post. By keeping an eye on what your competitors are writing about, you can get new ideas, too – monitor their posts and discussions using Alerts to see what issues you could address in your own content.

One last tip: If you’re not getting what you’re looking for in your Alert results, you can update them at any time to exclude websites that are low-quality or refine your keywords.

Need help tracking or improving your business’ online reputation? Contact Breathe Marketing today.


Anna Nixon-Smith

All stories by: Anna Nixon-Smith