You’ve probably heard of Google Alerts. You may even know you should be using them. But, have you taken the time to set up your Google Alerts yet? It takes about 10 minutes, and will save you lots of time. So, make the time to get it done!
Google Alerts are emails sent to you for search terms that you have set up. You identify the search terms that interest you, and Google will notify you any time there is a result in Google for your terms. The results come from News, Web, Blogs, Video and Groups. You determine which of these places you want to see results from.
First we’ll talk about “why” you should be using Google Alerts. They will enable you to respond to your press, to keep up with your market, and to create great content.
Then we’ll look at “how” to get your Google Alerts set up. It’s easy, you can set up very specific alerts, and the MyAlerts extension for Chrome makes it even more convenient to keep up with what’s going on in your market.
Why Google Alerts?
1. Respond to Your Press – Good or Bad
The first Alert you’ll want to set up is for your name. Obviously, your online reputation is crucial. To keep up with it, you need to know what people are saying about you online. People will be impressed if they mention you in a positive way, you find that mention, and take the time to thank them.
Same goes for any negative or misleading information that’s put out there. You want to know about it, and address it in a professional way. Google Alerts gives you the opportunity to always share your side of any negative press. It will also give you credibility when you mount an intelligent defense.
You may also have a main competitor you want to set up Alerts for so that you can keep an eye on them, and any good or bad press they get that may effect your strategies.
2. Keep Up With Your Market
You are an expert in your market. You therefore have a responsibility to keep your audience up to date on all of the latest news and developments. The best way to do this is to be one of the first people notified when something new happens, or when there’s something big going on that’s showing up in the news.
You can either spend hours combing the web in an attempt to keep up, or you can have Google Alerts deliver you daily, or even real time, notifications straight to your Inbox or even through an RSS feed.
3. Curate Content
Google Alerts is an excellent way to curate content. Not only do you want to keep your audience up to date by giving them your own content, you’ll also want to share with them the best stuff other people put out there. Google Alerts returns the top results in the News, Web, Blogs, Video and Groups categories. This gives you an easy and effective way of grabbing content to share with your audience.
How to Use Google Alerts
1. Easy to Set Up
Google Alerts is simple to set up. Just go to google.com/alerts, and you will see this:
I’ve typed “social media strategies” in the search box so you can see what happens on the right side of the page when you enter your search query. It pulls up the results so that you can determine whether this is a useful Alert for you before you actually set it up. As you can see, you can determine the type of alerts you get, how often you get them, how many results you get, and whether they are delivered to your email address or through an RSS feed. Click “create alert” and you’re done.
2. Set Up Specific Alerts
Of course the key to using Google Alerts effectively is going to be setting up the right Alerts. One of the nice things about Google Alerts is that you can get about as specific as you want.
All of the tricks you use to narrow your search results when doing a regular Google search, can also be used in setting up your Google Alerts. The most common example is quotation marks. In the above example, I would want to put enter: “social media strategy” with the quotation marks so I would get only results for that specific phrase.
Some other common restrictions are +, -, or, not, link: and site:. For another example, if you want to know every time I mention “social media strategy” on my blog, you could set up an alert like this: “social media strategy” site:www.JenniferHerndon.com.
You’ll want to consistently play around with your Alerts to find what keywords and restrictions provide you with the most targeted results.
3. The MyAlerts Extension
Another helpful tools for using Google Alerts is the MyAlerts extension for Google Chrome. Once added, this extension will place a little bell next to your address bar, where you can view your Alerts:
Once you set up your alerts, they appear in the box that initially says “Aw Snap!” This is a more convenient way to view your Alerts than going to your email or reader. It also allows you to set up Alerts for Twitter and Backtweets (links in Twitter).
Are You Using Google Alerts?
It will take a little time to get your Alerts set up just right, but once you do, you will find them to be an invaluable and time-saving resource. Are you using Google Alerts? If so, please share any tips you have for more effectively setting up your Alerts. I look forward to hearing how this tool is helping your business.