You’ve probably heard of Google alerts, a simple, easy and very effective way to keep an eye on what others are saying about you, your product, your website, and your niche topic. There is no doubt that the Internet today is a social world. People talk positively or negatively about everything. The question is: what do they say? And why do you want to know?
The answer is simple. You want to know in order to provide solutions, protect your image, help others, and gain confidence for you and your products. You can even discover newly hot topics for developing a new product or niche website.
What is a Google alert?
Google Alerts is a free service offered by Google that monitors online usage of any subject or term you specify.
Google emails are sent to you whenever this or these terms appear in the top 20 of websites or the top 10 of organic search results / Google search index for the period you define.
Configuring your Google Alerts
It’s easy to set up an alert even if you don’t have a Google or Gmail account. The process is simple. First, go to the Google Alerts page and sign up: http://www.google.com/alerts
You have three options for the number of times you would like to be notified by Google of a keyword alert:
- At any time;
Unless you have a very hot topic that you need to monitor constantly, I recommend using it weekly.
Also note that you have to put everything the keyword in quotes. If you haven’t used the quotes, your alerts will contain the results of all the words you enter, not just the group of words. For example, I only want the result of news articles, blogs, websites, etc. which contain the expression “how to train my dog In its entirety, so I have to put quotes.
Just like the functions of Google Analytics, there are functions of Google Alerts that are very little used to optimize results.
Note that Google Alerts allows you to obtain advanced research using the plus or minus sign to include search filters or to filter certain terms. This is very useful for breaking in on a niche or a specific person (including yourself), or to narrow your results to forums or blogs.
You can modify your search criteria in several ways, in particular by looking for inbound links on your site! Some marketers are constantly looking for new ways to evaluate their backlinking efforts, and Google Alerts are a good way to do this. (I’ll explain exactly how to do this a little later.)
In the example above, I used a Gmail email address, but you can use another address such as Hotmail or Yahoo to do so. Personally, I prefer setting up a Gmail account just for alert notices. My work email stays clean and I put all my alerts in one place.
Once you create the alert, you need to verify that you have the email address.
Tip: If you connect with a Google Tools / Webmaster account, you will have additional options and more control over how to handle your alerts. For example, you could have the alerts sent as a Google Alerts RSS feed instead of being sent by email. You can also export the results. It doesn’t offer more control, but some people prefer the RSS feed.
The type of information that is sent to you can be “All”, as I put in the example, or you can limit it to Google Blog Search, Google News, video or discussions.
Google Alerts is not 100% accurate and does not consistently guarantee results. It also does not return pages that are not in the Google index, too old material, or results that do not appear near the top of their index / search results.
Now that you’ve set up your Google Alerts preferences, what can you do with the results? Almost everything you can imagine! But to increase your income and the number of your visitors, here are six most useful ideas.
1. If you have a product, watch what is said about it
In the search field, put the name of your product in quotes, your ebook called “How to train my dog” for example. In this case, also enclose the name of the author in quotation marks. The name of an author is specific while a phrase such as “how to train my dog” could be used by anyone interested in dog training.
This brings us to another important point: choose your search criteria wisely. Use specific terms that are unique to what you are looking for and you will get the results you want.
By monitoring your product, you can have an idea what people think. Are the reviews of this product good? Are there any positive comments? Questions that need to be addressed? These results tell you what people want.
2. Your Backlinks can be monitored
It’s all in the search criteria you use. Since Google Alerts allows complex search syntax, you can place a search string such as the link: www.sonsite.com. Even if it is not 100% accurate, the alerts will notify you of any links that someone points to on your website.
Do you want to know if someone is linking to a specific article? Change the search criteria, for example link: www.sonsite.com / your-article-page.
You can then check the quality of these backlinks to determine if they are beneficial or not for your SEO.
3. Check your site and articles for plagiarism
There are always several lines of text that will be unique in an article. By placing unique terms in the search field, for example “ My unique sentence on how to train your dog, ”Google Alerts will alert you if someone uses this phrase in their article or on their website.
Either way, it may not be plagiarism. You can visit the site in question to find out if this is the case or not.
4. Discover the hot topics in any niche
It’s not often mentioned, but using Google Alerts is a great way to create new products or discover hot trends.
Choose a niche topic that interests you as a possible market. Place this term – the niche topic – in Google Alerts, and wait for the results.
Is there a recurring theme, question or problem in the discussions? If so, find the product (as an affiliate or the seller), go where people are talking about it, and let them know – subtly, of course – that there is a solution!
5. Customer service and reputation control
It takes a little bit of practice and is not for the faint of heart, as it is sometimes impossible to make all of your customers satisfied. If you have a disgruntled customer, chances are they have vented their anger somewhere, and everything they say about your product or service is not pretty to hear.
- Rule 1: Resist the temptation to be defensive. Do not directly confront individuals who have expressed their dissatisfaction in forums, blogs, social networks, and those who have responded.
- Rule 2: Don’t ask your friends and fans page to defend you. There is nothing worse than a discussion that is bombarded with comments in an obvious attempt to influence the opinion of others.
So do you think you should ignore the disgruntled people and hope they go away?
Honesty, logic, sincerity and transparency in social forums, blogs, etc. are very important. On the other hand, defensive confrontations and postures lead to mistrust.
The answer is no. But you have to approach this type of situation very closely.
First, step back and assess the complaint. Is this the right person for an assessment? If so, stand up and admit it. Go even further by thanking her for alerting you to the situation, and letting others know that you are ready to correct the problem.
In the world of online social interaction, admitting fault improves your positive reputation more than the negative impacts of the complaints you face.
If you don’t feel the complaints are justified, say the facts – not your opinion – and let others make their own decisions about what happened. Given the honest facts, people will fire someone who seems to be unreasonably complaining. They will appreciate that you have simply provided them with honest information and that you have not tried to influence their opinion.
6. Watch for competition
Finally, here is my last suggestion for using Google Alerts: monitor the competition. What is said about your competitors? What do they do ? Are they successful? Do you need to do something in order to deal with them?
One last tip: If your Google Alerts results are not specific enough, using the minus sign (-) in your searches can be essential, even welcome. For example, let’s say I want to find information on a dog training niche without the messages or tweets sent on Twitter. I can exclude Twitter from my results by defining the search term like this: “Dog training” in quotes, then the sign – followed by site: twitter.com
Now my results don’t include tweets, but will include other comments, blogs, and links to high-profit niches.
I could go on on how to use Google Alerts to guide and monitor your website, your online reputation, but I think you can already see how valuable Google Alerts can be for your business.