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The Smart Marketer’s Guide to Google Alerts

Here are the most important reasons every marketer should be using Google Alerts, as well as a step-by-step guide to getting started.

The Smart Marketer’s Guide to Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a very useful web monitoring tool, but few marketers use it to its fullest potential.

Would you like to receive alerts every time your name, your company, or your most important keywords are mentioned somewhere on the web?

Google Alerts is one of the best Google apps that 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 will want to monitor the web using Google Alerts, as well as a step-by-step guide to getting started.

What Is Google Alerts?

The Google Alerts setup page. The Google Alerts setup page.

Google Alerts is a free monitoring tool that notifies you whenever Google indexes a new page or any type of relevant content that contains a keyword or phrase specified by you.

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This process isn’t real time, and the media monitoring tool doesn’t exactly work like a daily newsletter because it can take Google a few days to index new pages as they’re created. However, for many social media marketing experts or online reputation managers, using Google Alerts is almost as good as getting real-time updates on important issues from all over the web.

If you’ve ever did Google searches or manual media monitoring for a keyword to dig up new information or discover where you’ve been mentioned online or what people are saying about it, you can use Alerts to accomplish the same thing more efficiently.

Having alerts delivered directly to you ensures that you won’t miss any obscure or out-of-the-way results or news story 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 an update alert than it is to repeatedly search for a term on Google yourself.

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What Can You Do With Google Alerts?

Google Alerts has a lot of potential applications for marketers, online reputation managers, social media experts or content marketers. Here are a few ways you might want to use this web monitoring 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 an alert for the product names or brand names you want to track, and you’ll catch mentions while they’re still fresh. Setting up alerts is a great way to stay on top of your reputation.

2. Track Your Company’s Brand

You can receive Google alerts when people are talking about your company online, whether they’re saying positive or negative things.

3. Track Your Competitors

Sure, you need to receive alerts to know what people are saying about you and your company — but it’s equally important to monitor the web for 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 new blog posts ideas, unique content angles that other content marketers haven’t covered yet. It can also help you find and take advantage of other relevant keywords.

5. Build Links

There are lots of link building guides but only a few of them mention Google Alerts as a source of doing link building and therefore search engines optimization. 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 customized Google 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 in the United Kingdom, you can customize Google Alerts to track the phrases “where to buy mechanical pencils” and “best mechanical pencils in UK.”

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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.

  1. Visit You’ll set and manage all your alerts from this page.
  2. Type your desired search term into the box.
The Smart Marketer’s Guide to Google AlertsSetting up a Google Alert for the term “Harvard University.”
  1. 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 Google account or your RSS feed.
The Smart Marketer’s Guide to Google AlertsSpecify when and how you want to receive your alerts.
  1. Hit “Create alert.” You’ll start getting notifications for your alerts right away.
  2. 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.
The Smart Marketer’s Guide to Google AlertsThe pencil and trash icons let you edit an alert’s settings or delete it.

Tips for Making the Most of Google Alerts

Google Alerts couldn’t be much simpler to set up and use.

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However, beyond the “beginners guide” there are still a few tricks you should know to get as much good information from the online 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 and not excluding results that could be valuable for you.
  • 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 by going to 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 Inbox bundles multiple alerts into a single convenient place. Click the expandable header to see the individual alerts.

Google Inbox bundles multiple alerts into a single convenient place. Click the expandable header to see the individual alerts.


Google Alerts is one of the easiest tools that marketers or social media managers 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.

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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!

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Image Credits

Featured Image: Created by author, July 2018
All screenshots taken by author, July 2018


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Adam Heitzman

Managing Partner at HigherVisibility

Adam Heitzman is a co-founder and managing partner at HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO firm. Having been a marketing executive ... [Read full bio]

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