Part of the problem is that many people don't realize all of things that Google Alerts can be used for. Below are some of the many ways that marketers can use Google Alerts—but often don’t.
- Use operators. If you are getting a lot of irrelevant results in your alerts, or are simply looking for something specific, you can use Google’s search operators to refine your search. For example, a hyphen (-) directly before a word will exclude results that include that term, while a tilde (~) used in the same fashion will return synonyms and other similar terms.
- Protect your reputation. By setting up an alert for your company’s name, or even your personal name, you will be notified whenever anyone mentions you in an online review or comment. Consider setting up an “as-it-happens” alert for any instances of your name that also include common negative adjectives, so you can immediately identify negative reviews and take steps to protect your online reputation.
- Stop negative SEO attacks. Similarly, you can protect your SEO efforts by setting up Google Alerts to identify negative SEO attacks. Include common spam terms in the alerts, along with your company’s name and web address.
- Prevent plagiarism. Google Alerts can serve as an ongoing plagiarism and copyright watchdog, especially if you have particular pieces of content that tend to get copied. Set up an alert for a unique passage of text from the page, and you will be notified if that text gets published on any other site.
- Find new backlinks. Get notified of all new links back to your site. Besides helping you monitor your backlink profile and measure the results of your link-building efforts, it can also help you identify allies or industry sites that you could partner with (such as through guest blogging).
- Identify prospects. Google Alerts can actually help you find new customers. When beginning the buying process, it is not unusual for people to post their needs online. For example, question-and-answer sites often include requests along the lines of “Where can I find blue widgets?” If you happen to sell blue widgets, that is the type of question you would love to provide an answer for. Set up alerts for such phrases or keywords.
- Track competitors. You can also set up alerts for the names of your competitors. In fact, if you only have one or two primary competitors, you could set up many of the above alerts for both your own company and your competitors. By finding out what sites are linking to them, or what people are saying about the competition, you can identify new opportunities and learn from their best (or worst) practices.
Since Google Alerts is a free resource, any information you can glean from it provides an excellent return on investment. By utilizing these tips, you can take full advantage of everything Google Alerts has to offer.
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