Google Alerts is a highly useful tool, but few marketers use it to its fullest potential.
Would you like to get a notification every time your name, your company, or your most important keywords are mentioned somewhere on the web?
Google Alerts lets you do exactly that, and it only takes a few minutes to start using this free service.
Here are the most important reasons you should be using Google Alerts, as well as a step-by-step guide to getting started.
What Is Google Alerts?
Google Alerts is a free service that notifies you whenever Google indexes a new page that contains a keyword or phrase specified by you.
This process isn’t immediate, because it can take Google a few days to index new pages as they’re created. However, for many marketers, using Google Alerts is almost as good as getting real-time updates on important issues from all over the web.
If you’ve ever manually searched for a keyword to dig up new information or discover what people are saying about it, you can use Alerts to accomplish the same thing more efficiently.
Using Alerts ensures that you won’t miss any obscure or out-of-the-way results for your keyword that don’t show up in Google’s first few pages. And, of course, it’s a lot quicker and easier to receive automatic notifications than it is to repeatedly search for a term on Google yourself.
What Can You Do With Google Alerts?
Google Alerts has a lot of potential applications for marketers. Here are a few ways you might want to use this tool.
1. Track Mentions of Important Names
Maybe you’d like to keep track of who is talking about you, your boss, or somebody else online.
Set up alerts for the names you want to track, and you’ll catch mentions while they’re still fresh.
This is a great way to stay on top of your reputation.
2. Track Your Company’s Brand
Alerts can notify you when people are talking about your company online, whether they’re saying positive or negative things.
3. Track Your Competitors
Sure, you need to know what people are saying about you and your company — but it’s equally important to monitor new developments that involve your closest competitors.
4. Monitor Your Keywords
Google Alerts can help you strengthen your keyword strategy by showing you how other people are using your main keywords.
This can help you find unique content angles that others haven’t covered yet. It can also help you find and take advantage of other relevant keywords.
5. Build Links
Whenever your business, product, or service is mentioned on a blog or a public question-and-answer forum like Quora, you have a valuable opportunity to create a backlink. Using Alerts will help you find as many of these opportunities as possible and jump on them while they’re fresh.
You can start using Google Alerts as a link building tool by setting up alerts for queries related to your product or service.
For instance, if your company sells mechanical pencils, you might want to track the phrases “where to buy mechanical pencils” and “best mechanical pencils.”
Alerts will show you relevant new pages where you can answer somebody’s question, promote your product or brand, and leave a link back to your site.
How to Set Up Google Alerts
Setting up Google Alerts is quick and easy. Here’s how to do it.
- Visit https://alerts.google.com/. You’ll set and manage all your alerts from this page.
- Type your desired search term into the box.
- Click “Show options” to tailor your alerts. You can filter your results by delivery frequency, sources, language, region, and quality. You can also use the “Deliver to” drop-down to specify whether your results should show up in your Gmail inbox or your RSS feed.
- Hit “Create alert.” You’ll start getting notifications for your alerts right away.
- Come back to the Google Alerts page when you need to manage or update your alerts. You can delete an alert or change its settings at any time.
Tips for Making the Most of Google Alerts
Google Alerts couldn’t be much simpler to set up and use.
However, there are still a few tricks you should know to get as much good information from the tool as possible.
- 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.
- Use quotation marks around multi-word search terms 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 specify that that word must be included in the results.
- Create multiple alerts to cover different variations of common search terms. You can make up to 1,000 alerts with each email address, 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 by going to https://inbox.google.com/. 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 is one of the easiest tools that marketers can use. And because it’s so important to be aware of what people are saying about your business online, there’s no good reason not to use Google Alerts.
If you don’t already have Google Alerts set up, take a few minutes to start tracking your most important names and keywords today. You might be surprised at what you find!
More Marketing Tool Resources:
- Google Autocomplete: A Complete SEO Guide
- A Complete Guide to the Google Search Console
- Google’s Top 5 SEO Tools
Featured Image: Created by author, July 2018
All screenshots taken by author, July 2018