Google Alerts is a free tool businesses can leverage to keep tabs on what is happening in their specific industry, with their competitors, within their local community, and much more. Do you like keeping up with industry trends? Do you want your business to stay relevant? Need help getting inspired to create content? Then this is for you.
There are various ways you can set up Google Alerts as a business owner or brand manager, let’s break down a few.
10 Handy Uses for Google Alerts:
- Monitor competitors content
- Keep an eye out for link injection hacks
- Find guest posting opportunities
- Monitor and answer questions from your niche
- Monitor relevant keywords
- Gather content ideas
- Product/service related queries
- Brand mentions
- Catching thieves
- Link building
What exactly is “Google Alerts”?
Google Alerts is a free service from Google that monitors the web for any new content that matches a particular search query. For example, you can set up a query regarding current events, products, or mentions of your name. Any time a piece of content matches your search query, your Google Alert system is triggered.
At regular intervals, you will receive alert emails with links to newly discovered content matching your queries. You can set the frequency of your email alerts. Options are “at most once a day”, “at most once a week”, or “as soon as it appears.” This way you have an easily accessible and nicely organized list of pertinent information.
Why is Google Alerts important?
Google Alerts can be practical for both personal and business use.
For everyday/non-business search users, Google Alerts is a good opportunity to get updates on the new content you’re interested in. This could include news, sports, favorite influencers, books, games, and much more.
For brands and businesses, Google Alerts can be a powerful brand monitoring tool. Keep track of mentions and reviews – and even keep an eye on your competitors’ online activities. Google Alerts makes it easy to stay on top of all of the latest happenings that could impact your business directly or indirectly.
Lastly, from an SEO perspective, Google Alerts can give you a competitive edge. Easily identify opportunities for link building. Monitor the web for unlinked mentions of a brand or product name. Use it to uncover new guest posting opportunities.
How to set up Google Alerts
If you’d like to begin putting Google Alerts to work and receiving regular updates, have no fear. The process is quick and painless.
- Go to the Google Alerts homepage.
- In the box at the top, enter a topic you want to follow.
- To change your settings, click “Show Options.” You can change:
- How often you get notifications
- The types of sites you’ll see
- Your language
- The part of the world you want info from
- How many results you want to see
- What accounts get the alert
- Click “Create Alert.”
You’ll get emails whenever Google finds matching search results. Please note, when the settings are configured correctly you shouldn’t be receiving alert emails around the clock. Think of it as a custom daily newsletter, not an hourly reminder.
Creative ways to use Google Alerts
Now that we know the basics of the “why”, “what”, and “how” behind Google Alerts, let’s maximize effectiveness. Here are 10 creative ways to incorporate Alerts into your daily business workflow. Don’t work harder, work smarter.
1. Monitor your competitors
Google Alerts can provide you with a way to stay on top of what the competition is doing and talking about online. Leverage this technique to keep an eye on the competition and conduct simple, real-time competitor analysis.
One quick way is to configure an alert to monitor your competitor’s website. When something is added or changed, you’ll know. Simply update the following with the site you want to monitor: “site:yourcompetitor.com”. Be sure to leave the advanced search “site:” context before the competitors url. This will help you monitor general updates and changes to your competitor’s website, products, or services.
Google Alerts can also be great for competitive analysis – set up an alert for all of your competitor’s brand name, pertinent keywords, and product names, alongside your own. Get free competitor insight directly to your inbox for free. These competitor analysis alerts can be useful in a few ways:
- You can track if your competitor is getting attention online, either by their own PR campaign or from other media entities.
- It can give you a good idea of your potential customer’s positive and negative connotations regarding other’s products and services via reviews. You can leverage that information.
- You can track price changes, sales, and other shifts in a competitor’s pricing model.
- It can also give you an eye into the kinds of SEO other companies in your niche are engaging in.
- So many more! This is just scratching the surface.
If you know particular content writers or marketers at your competitor’s agency, you can set up alerts for their names too – to keep an eye on their content attempts. With competition monitoring via Google Alerts, the more the merrier. If you find a specific alert yields little to no results, you can always adjust or remove them.
2. Keep an eye out for link injection hacks
A more defensive SEO strategy for Google Alerts is monitoring your own website for link injections or low-quality user-generated content. Hackers can create or inject a new page onto an existing website. Keeping your website clear of low-quality links and content will provide a better user experience for your audience and elevate the site’s quality in Google’s eyes.
Search engines give websites a “Toxicity Score” based on the type of links connected to your website. If you have high quality links you have a low “Toxicity Score” and get bonus SEO points. Alternatively, if you are subject to link injection hacks from toxic sources you will be negatively impacted. Use Google Alerts to avoid that by monitoring anytime a new link to your site is published.
3. Find guest posting opportunities
Another key SEO benefit of Google Alerts is having guest opportunities come right to your inbox. Rather than having to go out and actively search for new places to contribute guest posts, you can set up an alert to bring them to you anytime new ones pop up online. Simplify your marketing efforts.
Here are a few of the types of alerts you can create to uncover new guest post targets:
- Topic + “guest post by”
- Topic + “write for us”
- Topic + “guest article”
For example, say you are an expert in the art of pottery and are interested in guest starring on a reputable pottery blog. You could create an alert for pottery + “write for us”, pottery + “guest post by”, pottery + “guest article”. The results you receive would include pottery related articles or outlets that include key phrases such as “Guest Article” or “Guest Starring”. Armed with this information, you now know of relevant outlets you may have an opportunity to collaborate with. All that’s left is your introduction email!
Keep in mind, like anything on the internet, some of your results will be more relevant than others, but this type of alert is still a great way to streamline the process of finding guest post opportunities. Bonus tip, if you want to keep an eye on particular authors, you can even put up an alert for their names online.
4. Find and answer questions in your niche
Answering questions on relevant forums and question & answer websites can help you establish yourself as an expert in your industry. Besides, it’s an excellent opportunity to explain how your product or service can help people with their problems. Education is often a key hurdle in any business’s sales process. By being proactive and helping to educate your target audience, you are two steps ahead of your competition.
To do this, you can set up a Google Alert for something like: [topic] + site:[forum1.com] OR site:[forum2.com] OR site:[qawebsite.com] + intitle:(who|what|when|where|how).
Once those are set up, Google will send you email notifications about any relevant results across multiple websites. Don’t stress over inbox overload. As we mentioned, you can set the frequency of the alerts. It’s more of a newsletter than a spam email.
Now that you know what questions are being asked and where, you can interact directly with your potential customers to leverage your industry knowledge and build trust.
5. Monitor Relevant Keywords
Google Alerts can help you strengthen your keyword strategy by showing you how other people are using your main keywords. Additionally, by using a few previously mentioned techniques (see items 1 & 4) you can discover other relevant keywords your competitors and target audience are heavily utilizing. Discover if there are new concepts related to your brand being explored in interesting ways. Breaking news stories that you might want or need to write about?
Easily capture this information by setting up alerts for your main keywords and misspelled alternatives.
If you’re planning to focus on a particular topic or industry, use alerts to gather information and ensure your content is up to date. Leverage the magic of keywords to improve your search engine rankings. To do this, set up separate Google Alerts for any keywords you want to follow. Be sure to include those you have discovered through your competitor analysis and monitoring of forums.
6. Gather Content Ideas
Another great use of Google Alerts is to gather content ideas. Get inspired.
Alerts can help you find new blog post ideas and unique content angles that other content marketers or local competitors haven’t covered yet. It can give you a competitive edge, especially if you start to see patterns in trending topics. Stay ahead of the curve.
Utilize Google Alerts to stay up-to-date with industry relevant influencers, news outlets, and your favorite outlets to get inspiration from. Once your alerts are in place, you have essentially eliminated your research time. The inspiration now comes directly to your inbox. No more endless filtering through search results or refreshing pages.
7. Product/Service Related Queries
Start using Google Alerts to be aware of changes to the market with regards to your products or services. For instance, if your shop sells high end shoes in the United States, you can customize Google Alerts to track the phrases “where to buy dress shoes” and “best shoes for spring in the US.” You now have an easy way to keep up with changes to product trends that impact your business.
You can stay ahead of your audience’s demand by monitoring emerging trends in your sector, understand price standards, recognize high-performing alternatives to your offerings, and much more.
If you own your own business or a business decision maker, you’re busy! By using Google Alerts for Product & Service specific queries you can reduce the time spent testing the waters on new offerings and understand emerging trends you should incorporate into your business.
8. Brand Mentions
You should have alerts on for brand mentions – not only to keep an eye on your reputation but for link reclamation and other SEO tactics. It’s straightforward.
Easily track how, where, and when your business is mentioned. Eliminate the possibility of leaving a negative review or social media rant unanswered. Maximize effectiveness of positive coverage and great customer feedback. Keep tabs on how you are perceived.
To expand on this, you can monitor various outlets for your mention: Online directories, social media platforms, online stores, relevant blogs, local news outlets, etc. You can track specific hashtags or accounts, or even use a site search operator to focus your attention only on certain websites.
A couple of examples:
For social media an example would be: “[brand name] site:twitter.com”. This would bring up results for your brand name on Twitter.
For review monitoring it would look like: “[your brand name] + intitle:review”. This would alert you anytime your brand is reviewed across the web.
9. Catching Thieves
Getting your content stolen is part of life online, especially if it’s good content. Great content not only entices potential customers, but copycats too. Use Google Alerts to protect your in-house curated content.
Setup Google Alerts for key pieces of your content such as a title line, key statistic, or a conclusion summary. While you might not catch every thief, you are setting yourself up to take a proactive stance. You work hard for your content, don’t let others pass it off as their own if you can help it.
10. Link building
The last way we would suggest you leverage Google Alerts is through link building opportunities. If you know anything at all about SEO and improving visibility online you have probably come across the ideology behind linking strategies. There are lots of link-building guides readily available. However, only a few of them mention Google Alerts as a source of link building (and therefore SEO improvements).
With that in mind, this is an untapped resource. Start using Google Alerts for link building opportunities now before everyone figures out how to do it!
Using customized Google Alerts will help you find as many of these opportunities as possible and jump on them while they’re fresh. For example, anytime your business, product, or service is mentioned on a blog, a public question-and-answer forum (like Quora), chat/collaboration communities (like Reddit), or community organizations (like Chambers of Commerce or Entrepreneur Community websites) you have a valuable opportunity to create a backlink.
Google Alerts has essentially delivered you an opportunity to share valuable information to people already interested in your helpful information, services, or products. Take advantage of this opportunity to put yourself out there and improve search engine rankings.
Some Additional Tips:
- Include common misspellings of your search terms. Google is getting better at detecting and automatically correcting misspellings, but it’s still a good idea to cover all your bases – don’t exclude anything that might be valuable.
- Use quotation marks around multi-word search terms and limit your alert if you want your results to include only that exact phrase. You can also use other common search symbols to refine your search. For example, put the “+” operator in front of a particular word to receive Google Alerts with that word included in the results.
- Create multiple alerts to cover different variations of common search queries. You can make up to 1,000 alerts with all the Gmail accounts you have, so be thorough.
- If you use an RSS feed, you can have your alerts sent there instead of to your email. This also prevents your email inbox from getting clogged up.
- Use Google Inbox to batch your alerts to prevent email clutter. Access your inbox – Google Inbox.
- Each of your alerts will show up under a single expandable header. Click on the header to see details about the individual pages that contain your search term.
- Google Alerts also supports the advanced search operators from Google search.