What are Google Alerts?
If you do have Google Alerts already set up, don’t tune me out yet! There may be a few ideas in here that you haven’t tried yet…
Google alerts are notifications that you receive by email when a particular search query you have pre-set gets found by Google. The most common is a URL alert. For example, I could tell Google that I want it to notify me every time it finds a new mention of: http://www.hismove.com/blog anywhere on the internet.
To set up an alert, go to www.google.com/alerts
You’ll immediately notice a few options for the type of search you can perform although I usually suggest just choosing the “comprehensive” search so you cover all the bases.
The most common searches most bloggers enter in are:
- Their own URL(s)
- Their full name (usually in quotes)
- A keyword they are targeting
Those are all great alerts that every blogger should have set up… but let me suggest to you a few more ideas that may help:
How to Set Up Unique Google Alerts
- Treat the “Search Terms” setup on the alerts like it’s a real Google search box. It can include operators that will help you find specific things you might be looking for. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, try this page on Google Search Operators. An example would be an alert like: [keyword site:www.wikipedia.org] this alert would notify you every time a specific keyword was found on wikipedia. Play around with some of the different operators… you may get some interesting results.
- Set up an alert that focuses on the keywords you want to rank for. Such as: ["port orange real estate listings"]. Make sure to put quotes around the phrase so you don’t get unrelated results. You can immediately see the value in a search like this because it will let you know who else is writing about that particular phrase, essentially identifying your competition. You may want to consider excluding your domain name from this search so your results don’t get skewed. Here is the command: [port orange real estate -www.portorangejuice.com]
- Set up an alert for a phrase about your community like: ["port orange schools"] or ["port orange local events"]. This will allow you to keep tabs on what is going on in your community, and can often turn into ideas to write about on your blog depending on what is popular within your local community.
- Search for customers. This one is the most undervalued of them all! What are your potential customers looking for? Are they asking specific questions online about your market? Take some time and think through this… then set up a few test alerts. Here are some examples for the real estate industry: ["how do i find foreclosure properties in port orange"], ["how much is my port orange house worth"], ["where can I find port orange homes for sale"], ["looking for new home incentives in port orange"]… In case you haven’t noticed, buyers and sellers are online. And they are actively asking questions about real estate in their area. The hard part is how to find them… that is where Google alerts comes in. It will do the hard work for you. Once you find someone that is asking a question, or needs help, simply go to the page and respond to their inquiry. Sometimes this might be a question on a Yahoo Group, or a question on Trulia Voices, or maybe even a question about a specific property on Zillow.com. Don’t be afraid to set up 50+ alerts for specific search phrases. These are real leads, and because of the specific nature of the query, you probably won’t get more than a couple alerts per week.
- When setting up an alert for your website, don’t just put in your home page, try putting in specific URL’s for popular articles you’ve written so you can see who is writing about those specific topics.
- For less important searches, choose the “once a week” notification option so you aren’t inundated with emails every day at random.
- Spy on your competition. Try some alerts like this: [link:www.mycompetition.com], ["keyword" site:www.mycompetition.com], [allintitle:"keyword" site:www.mycompetition.com]
- One last tip… this tip exploits the fact that most popular bloggers have Google alerts set up for their website and name. Start linking out to some famous bloggers and see what happens. In most cases you will see that person you linked to come around to your blog within 24 hours to check it out. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to people you want to connect with. You can build quite a reputation for yourself in a short amount of time by linking out to other bloggers you respect. This is hugely important to the new blogger trying to make a splash in the blogosphere.
I hope some of those tips helped. If you have any other ideas, please share them here!