The Ninja’s Guide to Google Alerts

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Matthew Woodward
Matthew Woodward
The Ninja’s Guide to Google Alerts

Google Alerts is one of the most powerful free tools available, but it is often overlooked. It monitors the web for words and phrases and even sends you an email or updates an RSS feed every time it finds a new result.

Sounds pretty simple right? You will be amazed at how powerful a simple tool like Google Alerts can be. It has a huge range of uses which are only limited by your imagination.

I’m going to reveal how I use Google Alerts to leverage brand, authority, traffic and sales, as well as share the exact alerts I have setup for my personal SEO blog.

Monitoring Your Brand

Just like John Chow, my name (Matthew Woodward) is my brand. Anytime my website or name is mentioned, I get an email direct to my inbox to alert me of that. This offers a great range of opportunities: I can get alerted to new discussions about my brand or if I have been mentioned somewhere without a link back to my site.

You can then take action by addressing the feedback and getting links added. These are the alerts I have set up to monitor my brand online:
matthew woodward

Monitoring Competitors

In addition to monitoring your brand, you should also be looking at what your competition is doing. You could receive alerts of positive and/or negative feedback about your competitors or even alerts of new links that they have acquired. You can use Google Alerts to keep a close eye on their activity online and then leverage it to your advantage. I’m not going to publicly reveal who I monitor. 🙂 Just setup brand based alerts for all of your competitors.

Monitoring Questions in Your Niche

This is great for driving traffic and building authority and loyal subscribers. You can monitor your niche for a range of question-based terms and then jump in and provide an expert answer with a link back to your site. Here are the alerts I use to monitor link building-related questions (but you can swap the phrase link building for anything you want):

How * link building
Is * link building
Can * link building
When * link building
Why * link building
Will * link building

I have alerts like that set up for Link Building, SEO, Google Penalty, and so forth.

Every time I create a new piece of content that answers questions about a certain topic, I set up corresponding alerts so I can direct people to the answer.

Monitoring Content Distribution

If you have a cornerstone piece of content, then you can use Google Alerts to monitor mentions of the article across the Web. You can get an alert if someone talks about it on a forum or shares it in a blog comment somewhere. Again, this provides you with multiple opportunities to get involved and add to the discussion.

My”>Ultimate Guide To Tiered Link Building video tutorial series has proved to be very popular, and I have alerts to monitor for mentions of it around the Web:

"ultimate guide to tiered link building"
"ultimate guide to link building"
"tiered link building part"

Finding New Guest Post Opportunities

Most blogs that accept guest posts have a page telling you how to get in touch and submit a guest post. You can use Google Alerts to monitor a range of common footprints used on those blogs to let you know about new guest posting opportunities in your niche. Here’s what I have set up:

"write for us" SEO
"submit guest post" SEO
"bloggers wanted" SEO
"become a contributor" SEO
"this guest post" SEO
"become an author" SEO

Monitoring Link Building Footprints

There are a lot of platforms out there that you can use to get links from. Commenting on WordPress blogs is a great way to establish traffic, authority, and relevant backlinks, but we can take this a step further. WordPress plugins, such as KeywordLuv and CommentLuv, will let us drop keyword-based anchor texts with links back to our most recent posts. This offers a lot more benefit than a regular blog comment, but how do we use Google Alerts to find these opportunities automatically? Here are my alerts:

SEO +"CommentLuv enabled"
SEO +"enter yourname@yourkeywords" -intitle:"enter yourname@yourkeywords"
link building +"CommentLuv enabled"
link building +"enter yourname@yourkeywords" -intitle:"enter yourname@yourkeywords"

That’s just an example of monitoring the KeywordLuv and CommentLuv WordPress plugins for the keywords SEO and Link Building. There are lots of different platforms you can target this way, just find a common footprint and set up an alert.

Monitoring Site Security

I have had sites hacked on a few occasions in the past. Some hackers chose to inject hidden links in footers, while others go all out creating thousands of junk pages. Usually, the first time you notice this is when your site completely disappears out of the SERPs. You can use Google Alerts to monitor for any suspicious activity on your site, so you can take action before you get penalized. Set up an alert like this to monitor your site: acne OR botox OR casino OR dating OR debt OR insurance OR mortgage OR paxil OR pharmacy OR phentamine OR pherimones OR poker OR porn OR OR roulette sex OR viagara OR viagra OR xxx

Obviously, if your site is about getting into debt buying viagra in an online casino, then you need to tweak the keywords in my alert above.

Discovering New Niches

How would you like alerts of hot, new, and emerging niches landing in your inbox on a daily basis? Consider setting up alerts like:

new * this year
new * 2012
will * 2012
what will happen *

How to Setup Google Alerts

Setting up Google Alerts is very easy and takes seconds to do. This is what the form looks like:

In the Search Query box, you can enter the term you want to be alerted for. Have a look at my examples above and see which ones you can utilize for your site.

In the Result Type box, I always select to receive alerts for everything.

The How Often box allows you to choose between once a week, once a day, or as it happens. I change this based on what I want to achieve. For example, I want alerts about site security as it happens, but only want new guest post opportunities every week.

In the How Many box, I always choose All Results to make sure I don’t miss anything.

The Deliver To box, lets you choose to have the alerts delivered via email or RSS. I tend to have things like brand-related alerts delivered by email and have link building opportunities delivered via RSS in Google Reader.

Once you have set everything up, you will get new alerts forever! It might take an hour or so to set up, but it is worth every minute of your time, and you can set up as many alerts as you want.

Think Out of the Box

Now that you understand the true power of Google Alerts, take a step back and think about unique ways you could apply them to your business or website. There are thousands of different ways you could use it over and above what I have discussed in this post. Think out of the box and be creative with your alerts! It is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal, so make sure you take full advantage of it.

How Do You Use Google Alerts?

So now you know how I use Google Alerts to build authority, brand, traffic, and sales to my blog. Do you have a Google Alerts strategy that I haven’t discussed? Will you be integrating Google Alerts into your online strategy?


Featured Image: Deposit Photos 

Matthew Woodward

Matthew Woodward

Matthew Woodward publishes a series of SEO video tutorials on his website that teach you how to rank websites over ... [Read full bio]