8 Unique Ways to Use Google Alerts To Capture New Customers


What are Google Alerts?

I’ve heard some talk lately about Google alerts, and I was interested to find that there seemed to be quite a few people that have never used them before or didn’t know how to use them properly.

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:

  1. Their own URL(s)
  2. Their full name (usually in quotes)
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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]
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. For less important searches, choose the “once a week” notification option so you aren’t inundated with emails every day at random.
  7. Spy on your competition. Try some alerts like this: [link:www.mycompetition.com], ["keyword" site:www.mycompetition.com], [allintitle:"keyword" site:www.mycompetition.com]
  8. 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!


  1. says

    Your “search for customers” is a very interesting for using Google Alerts. I will have to give it a try once I figure out how to install it, thank you!

  2. says

    I haven’t used Google Alerts in all the ways you mentioned, so I will add some more especially on what people are looking for? Doesn’t this do the same things as site meter would ?

    Ok, I will also link to you, which site ? This one ?

  3. says

    Site meter will give you stats on how people already found you… this is a way to get people that don’t know who you are, but are asking questions that make them prime targets as people who could convert into customers.

    Yeah, if you’d like to provide a link, please link to: http://www.hismove.com/blog with the anchor text: “real estate marketing tools” if you don’t mind.


  4. says


    You have some great ideas here. I was following Missy’s thread on Real Estate World and wanted to learn a little more. I just up a Google Alerts account yesterday and was looking to learn more about. The link: function is going to work for me, I like it. Thank you.

  5. says

    I have iGoogle set up with several key word searches, so that I can read all of the recent pertinent articles in one place. But I think I’m going to add alerts to my mix – based on what you’re saying they’ll provide more flexibility and they’ll deliver the articles to my inbox, rather than me having to click through to a bookmarked site..

    Thanks for the tip.

  6. says

    Justin good ideas here. I use Google alerts for the usual suspects (myself, my websites and my search terms). I will have to play with it some more based on some of your other suggestions. I have gotten some good ideas from the alerts that come in from my search term. – Ashley

  7. says

    Thanks Justin! I learned more about Google Alerts.
    I’ve been using also Google Alerts and I got more new ideas on how to make a unique Google Alerts. Thanks for the suggestins! :)

  8. says

    Although I do most of those things, I did learn a few things from you here. I’m going to have to re-read your tip on finding customers. You perked my interest there. :)

  9. says

    Thanks. I have never thought about using google alerts the way you described. I will definitely try the part about spying on my competition and using it to search for customers.

  10. says

    Justin – thank you for your post and explanations on setting up Google alerts. It has been a hit or miss thing for me, until reading your post. Also, your suggestions are terrific and should prove useful.

  11. says

    Thanks for the suggestion. There are a couple of problems with putting an RSS feed into your site to get results from google alerts:

    1. google doesn’t index sites fast enough to make it really worth the effort.
    2. most of the time, adding an rss feed includes using javascript, which essentially makes the text invisible anyway.
    3. what is the point of having your own site pop up on google alerts? Most people that use them are webmasters and not good buyer prospects.

    Just my 2 cents…

  12. says

    Wow, I have never heard of this feature before. I just signed up for several search reports. I’ll be interested to see now if this blog post shows up for my name.

    Excellent POST!!! We’re not worthy!

  13. says

    Many times we forget how important it is to keep our fingers on the pulse of the times. Knowing others are advertising, the new technologies, and where the flow of money is headed gives you an advantage over others who are oblivious to such things. Can you think of at least 5 other ways to stay market-savvy?

  14. says

    I had not realized the potential of google alerts before! I especially like the idea of finding out a little more regarding what my competition is up to. It would be nice to know if they are on to something I am not.

  15. says

    I have come across discussions on Google Alerts before but was never impressed that it was useful. Your post really opened my eyes. Thinks. This has got to be an under untilized tool.

  16. says

    Wow this is a great thing to have I never knew this existed, and will be using right away. Keep up the good work Google offers so much different stuff it’s hard to keep up with. Great Job!

  17. says

    I have to mirror everyone else’s surprise. This is a feature I was not aware of in google. They have become so large it seems as though they release new features almost daily. It’s hard to believe they still run their google universe from a website that looks so simple!

    Thanks again, I’ll be using this to track my competitors.

  18. says

    That’s one very useful post. I’m not new to google alerts, but so far never pushed this resource this much. Thanks for sharing.

  19. says

    Wow, Thanks. I’ve always heard about them but never really thought much of them. I’m going to have to go set up some alerts right now.
    While I’m at it I may as well setup up some alerts for this excellent blog!
    Thanks Justin.

  20. says

    Oh my god! These tips are awesome! Thank you so much! I was just using alerts to tell me when news about real estate in my area popped up on the web, but now I see the potential of this… it’s…. very powerful indeed.


  21. says

    I’ve been using Google Alerts more and more lately. It’s a great way to stay on top of what’s going on in the on-line space. Especially if you’re trying to write content people are interested in daily.

  22. says

    I like tip No 8: “You can build quite a reputation for yourself in a short amount of time by linking out to other bloggers you respect.” I’m always happy to link to Nanaimo real estate websites provided the reciprocate.

  23. says


    I’m just setting up my Google Alerts and this Post has given me a great understanding of what I should be doing in my Niche.

    Thank you

  24. says

    Wow! I’ve been using Google alerts for months for research purposes and for the keywords I want to rank well for….who knew it could be used to find customers as well. Great tips.

  25. says

    good stuff–I use alerts for research eg thinking of a website for chocolate,raise alerts for all your keywords to see properly where the activity is
    It works a treat
    didn’t know about the use of all search terms this will really expand my use

    thanks again

  26. says

    Thanks for the information. As I’m sure you know any way (especially when just starting off) a new online marketer can acquire customers is helpful. If I can be of assistance to you please don’t hesitate.

  27. says

    Thanks for the information! As a new marketer any words of wisdom are of course helpful. I’ll get this going right away. If I can be of any assistance to you please don’t hesitate.

  28. says

    Google alerts is really useful to trackback a specific user who do comments and see to it that you can detetc it too and make a reaction for what is being posted. Google alerts is a technique too which is been use for marketing.

  29. says

    I love Google Alerts. Real time alerts when discussing the company you want to know about. I think it is clever and very useful.