Six Google Alert Tips To Guide Your Online Presence

Written by: Adam Short 39 Comments Click to Contribute

Today I’m going to talk about using Google Alerts, a simple, easy, and very effective way to keep tabs on what others are saying about you, your product, your web site, and your niche subject.

There’s no question that today’s Internet is a social world. People talk and gossip — positively and negatively — about everything. The question is, what are they saying, and why would you want to know?

The answer is simple. You want to know in order to offer solutions, protect your image, be of help to people, and gain trust for yourself and your products. You can even discover newly hot topics to develop a new product or niche web site around.

What is a Google Alert?

Google Alerts is a free service you can configure in your Google Webmaster Account that monitors online use of any subject or terms that you specify. The Google app emails you whenever that term appears within the top 20 web sites or top 10 news stories of Google’s organic search results/index for the time period that you set.

Setting up your Google Alerts

It’s easy to set up an alert, even if you don’t have a Google account or Gmail address. The process is simple.

First, go to the Google Alerts Sign up page: http://www.google.com/alerts

You’ll see this form, which I have already filled out with sample data:
Google Alerts Form

You have three options for the “How Often” field: As It Happens, Daily, or Weekly. Unless you have a very hot topic that you need to monitor constantly, I recommend using Weekly.

Also notice that I put the entire term in quotes. If you don’t use quotes, your alerts will contain results for all the words you enter, not just the group of words. (“Broad” versus “phrase” matched results.) I only want the news articles, blog posts, web sites, etc. that contain the phrase “Niche Profit Classroom blog” in its entirety, so I need the quotation marks.

Note that Google Alerts allows advanced searches. That means you can use the plus sign or negative sign to include search filters, or to filter out certain terms. This is very useful for honing in on a particular niche or a specific person (including yourself), or for narrowing your results to only forums or blogs.

You can vary your search criteria in any number of ways, including searching for links coming into your site! Our members are constantly looking for ways to monitor their backlinking efforts, and Google Alerts is one way to do it. (I’ll explain exactly how a bit later.)

In the example above, I used an AOL email address to show you that any email address will work. Personally, I prefer setting up a Gmail account just for the Alert notices. My working email stays clean, and I gather all my alerts in one location.

Once you create the Alert, you’ll need to verify that you own the email address.

Hint: If you sign in with a Google Account/Webmaster Tools, you’ll have additional options and more control over how to manage your Alerts. For example, you could have the alerts sent as a Google Alert RSS feed instead of being emailed to you. You can also export the results. It’s not much more control, but some people prefer the RSS feed.

The Type of information sent to you can be “Everything,” as I have set it in the example, or you can limit it to Google Blog Searches, Google News, Video, or Discussions.

Google Web Alerts is not 100% accurate or guaranteed to provide results all the time. Google Alerts won’t return pages that aren’t in Google’s index, material that is too old, or results that don’t appear near the top of their index/search results.

Now that you’ve set up your Google Alert preferences, what can you do with the results?

Almost anything you can imagine! But let’s narrow it down to a six useful ideas:

1. If you have a product, monitor what people are saying about it.

In the search field, place your product’s name in quotes. Maybe it’s an ebook called “How To Have The Best Growing Roses.” Or even better, put the author’s name in quotes. An author’s name is specific whereas a phrase such as “How to have the best growing roses” could be used by anyone interested in growing roses.

This brings up another important point: choose your search criteria wisely. Use specific terms that are unique to what you’re looking for, and you’ll get the results you want.

By monitoring your product, you can get a sense for what people think about it. Is the product getting good reviews? Positive comments? Are there support issues that need to be dealt with? These results will tell you what people want.

2. Backlinks can be monitored.

It’s all in the search criteria you use. Since Google Alerts allows complex search syntax, you could place a search string such as link:www.yourdomain.com. While not 100% accurate, the alerts will notify you any time someone links to your website.

Want to find out if anyone is linking to a specific article? Modify the search criteria to something like link:www.yourdomain.com/your-article-page.

3. Check your on-site or off-site articles for plagiarism.

There are always several lines of text that will be unique within an article. By placing the unique terms into the search field like this, “My unique phrase on rose growing,” Google Alerts will notify you if anyone uses that phrase in their article or on their web site. Be careful — it may not be plagiarism. But you can visit their site and find out if it is.

4. Discover hot topics within any niche.

This isn’t mentioned often, but using Google Alerts is a great way to create new products or discover hot trends. Pick a niche topic you’re interesting in pursuing as a possible market. Place that term — the niche topic — in Google Alerts, and set the results to “discussions.” Is there a recurring theme, question, or problem in the discussions? If so, find the product (as an affiliate or vendor), go to where people are talking about it, and let them know – subtly, of course – that there is a solution!

5. Off-site customer service and controlling of your reputation.

This takes a bit of practice and is not for the faint of heart. If you have a disgruntled customer, chances are that they have vented somewhere, and that whatever they’re saying about your product or service isn’t pretty.

Rule 1: Resist the temptation to get defensive. Don’t directly confront individuals or start posting replies in forums, blogs, or social networks that this person is xyz. (It doesn’t matter what XYZ is.)

Rule 2: Don’t ask your friends and fans to defend you, either. There’s nothing worse than a discussion that gets bombarded with comments in an obvious attempt to sway everyone’s opinions.

So, do you ignore it and hope it goes away?

The answer is no. But you must approach this type of situation very carefully.

First, step back and evaluate the complaint. Is the person correct in their evaluation? If so, stand up and admit it. Even go as far as to thank them for alerting you to the situation, and to let others know you’re willing to adjust in order to correct the problem.

In the world of online social interactions, admitting fault when you’re wrong impacts your reputation positively far more than the original complaint impacts you negatively.

If you don’t feel the complaints are justified, tell the facts — not your opinion — and let others make their own decisions about what happened. Given the honest facts, people will dismiss someone who seems to be complaining unreasonably. They will appreciate that you simply provided honest information and didn’t try to sway their opinion.

Honesty, logic, sincerity, and transparency in social forums, blogs, etc is very important. Confrontations and defensive postures will lead to mistrust.

And our last suggestion for using Google Alerts is to:

6. Monitor your competition.

What’s being said about them? What are they doing? Is what they’re doing successful? Do you need to do something in order to keep up with your competition?

One Last Tip:

If your Google Alerts results are not specific enough, use negative terms — minus signs with the term — in your searches.

For example: Let’s say I want to find information on Niche Profit Classroom, but I don’t want posts or tweets made on Twitter. I can exclude Twitter from my results by setting my search term like this:

“Niche Profit Classroom” -site:twitter.com

Now my results will not include Twitter posts or tweets, but will include other comments and blogs and links to Niche Profit Classroom.

I could go on and on about how to use Google Alerts to guide and monitor your web site, online reputation, and online presence, but I think you can already see how valuable Alerts from Google can be. Now that I’ve given you some ideas, how about sharing your ideas on how to maximize your Google Alerts in our comment box below!

Talk To You Soon,

Adam Short

39 Comments Posted:

Written by: Darren Spark February 24, 2011

Hi Adam, Thanks for sharing, TBH this hadn’t even crossed my mind! Thank you for enlightening me. Daz

Written by: Frankie B. February 24, 2011

I just learned about G. Alerts a few weeks ago, almost perfect timing.

I’ve been experimenting with them, still not sure I know what to do with alerts, but this certainly helps.

FB

Written by: RichG February 25, 2011

Google alerts is always a great way to track employment opportunities in your local area (or where you might want to work).

Also, a good way to follow bands you like and their touring schedule.

Written by: Dave Nicholson February 25, 2011

Very interesting and useful post. I too never even thought of using it before now, Thanks for the Great tip. As always great information Adam :)

Written by: MS Office Training February 25, 2011

thanks Adam, good tips. I didn’t know alerts only worked for the top 20 web sites or top 10 news stories.

Phil

Written by: Jeremy Mandile February 25, 2011

Adam I have used Google Alerts in the past but not this extensively…all I have to say is this info you have shared today is so valuable for anyone or any local or online business! I look forward to your future posts..you rock!! :)

JM

Written by: Eugen February 25, 2011

There is always something to learn.
Thank you!

Written by: Hamant Keval February 25, 2011

Hi Adam

Thats a great article on how we can stay ahead of what is happening in the “social world” today without getting bogged down.
I have been using the service to alert me to certain niches that I am in and it works wonders, especially when you use it in tandem with the Trends and hot Trends that google also supplies.
One of the coolest new services that I like a lot is Curt’s Internet Time Machine – That seems to have one of the most accurate new hot search trends that I have found online.

Many thanks -0 great article

Hamant

Written by: Denis Jorgensen February 25, 2011

Adam,

Great info on Google Alerts. I have used this a little in the past but never really knew what I was to get out of it. You explained it beautifully.

I will learn how to use this now.

Denis

Written by: Trading Pro System February 25, 2011

@Frankie B., here’s a couple uses for alerts:

If you’re in a niche that’s often a topic of discussion in forums & blog comments you can use use alerts to find these discussions.
You then have the option to join the discussion & position yourself as an expert (or not) & leave backlinks to your site in your posts or in your signature.
As always, don’t be spammy doing it. Provide SOME good useful info, but leave them “looking for more” (from you, that is).
You want people to follow your links or check your siggy because they anticipate finding more, even better content than the “useful, but not quite complete” stuff you’ve posted in a forum or blog comment.

Here’s another use: to find niche-related ideas to write articles or blog posts about.

C’mon, everyone else reading this – add some more ideas to the list!

Roy C.

Written by: Exito February 25, 2011

I have been using google alerts for some time now and let me tell that really provide help to know if they are talking about you and your website.
Thanks
Exito Smith

Written by: allen February 25, 2011

Hey Adam,

Knew about Google alerts, but had no idea that you can actually know when someone links to your site and the other things you mentioned.

Great stuff and what an excellent mentor you and George are.

Thanks, Allen

Written by: Syed Akram February 25, 2011

I’ve been using Google Alert quite for long time. Most of it to find news or blog which related to my niche and have comments so can get backlinks to my niche sites.

Written by: Wilkie Paul February 25, 2011

Thanks a lot for the great information. I never knew that google alerts would be this useful.

Written by: Seychelles February 25, 2011

Adam
Very well explained. Thank you so much. I will definitely be using the tips on how to keep on top of new links. Although I have used the service in the past I did not make use of all these filters that is available to all, when you know it. Thanks again

Written by: Carol Amato February 25, 2011

Just set up three alerts for the first time. Thanks for the great information. Whenever I receive an email from NPC, I will make sure I click

Thanks for the great info!

Written by: Deb February 25, 2011

Once again, your blog post knocks it out of the park. Thanks so much for sharing what you know, Adam….and for sharing it in a way that anyone can understand.

Deb

Written by: Dan Pepper February 25, 2011

Hi Adam, thanks for the reminder. I first heard about alerts a while ago but I failed to put quotes around the search phrase and ended up with a lot of irrelevant alerts. Quotes keep my alerts on point now. Thanks again.

Written by: Gary February 25, 2011

Hi Adam;
Thanks so much for a great idea. I knew the alert feature was there but have not used it. Here’s how I’ll incorporate this into my site:

I monitor health and weight loss news closely and when an authority news item is posted I review it, search for a good keyword to tie to it, completely rewrite the article integrating the keyword, add some commentary of my own, and post it to my site.

This serves a purpose to my readers to keep them informed on the latest stuff. I can also include an affiliate link if I’m promoting a product relevant to the news topic.

But using your alert strategy, I can set alerts for target keywords and catch news in a faster, more focused way rather than picking up on things in a random fashion as I do currently.

I’m definitely going to play with this and use it to expand my overall content while adding depth to it as well.

Thanks again, Adam.

Gary

Written by: Ronnie February 25, 2011

This is great information. You said you could go on and on. Please share more when you have time.

Thanks,
Ron Ashworth

Written by: Carol Amato February 26, 2011

Adam, just tried to go to bettafishcenter.com and got an error saying you had reached the max bandwidth allowed.

Just a heads up.

HTH,
Carol Amato

Written by: kater February 26, 2011

Adam

I learned a new way to use alerts with #4 discussions. I use alerts for researching new products and for monitoring when a new site gets a link. The discussion tip is primo. Thanks, Kater

Written by: Shakes February 26, 2011

Lovely posting, now i know how to stalk my competition

Written by: Kevin February 26, 2011

Hi Adam,

Thanks for sharing such an insight on how effective the free Google Alerts can be utilized in various ways.

I am barely scratching the surface through Google Alerts right now! – You were such an eye opener. Thanks.))

Please share even more great ideas on G.A as soon as you have some spare time.

On a different note, I checked out your Betta Fish Center site as I intended to promote your high quality product.

I encountered one broken link (slight mistake) on your Sales Page: [/bcme.shtml]. The affiliate link ends in html instead of shtml and therefore is giving a 404 Error (Not Found).
The rest of the pages, including the Squeeze Page links are all OK.
Just a 5 second fix through CuteFTP.

Written by: Celie February 26, 2011

Thanks for that Adam, I had not realised about using quotes and certainly didn’t know about the minus or site: searches. Very useful stuff, I am in Niche Profit Classroom and find your style very easy to follow.

Written by: Paul Hanna February 26, 2011

Hi Adam
Thanks for for this detailed info, I have been using google alerts to find blogs to comment on and get back links. I see now its more powerfull and a much more usefull service.

Paul…

Written by: Tom March 5, 2011

I used a “clean” e-mail address to send Google Alerts to it. I have never used this address before. After entering 3 sets of key words I received more than 30 junk e-mails. Be careful with this tool.

Written by: Todd March 10, 2011

That’s exiting stuff, even for a old man newbie
Thanks again, like the way you explain things. If only my elem. school math teacher could have explained how he didn’t know how to teach math.lol

Written by: John Hoff August 17, 2011

Excellent article. I’ve been using Google Alerts for some time now to monitor my name and also to see if my website has any weird spam links in the content (in case it gets hacked).

Since reading this article awhile back, I’ve implemented this idea and have created a swipe file to reply to people’s questions about a topic from one of my niches.

Written by: Ryan September 17, 2011

Great information. I try to stay as up-to-date as possible with my Google Alerts. They can be very useful, and knowing certain tips-and-tricks can certainly help.

Thanks!

Written by: Clarice February 1, 2012

I just got a new job and I am responsible for monitoring all the google alerts. The first week I thought I’d never last here because this seemed like an impossible task. With this valuable information, I am now able to accomplish monitoring more qualified alerts with ease.

One question regarding the advanced (plus and/or minus) options, anyone know where I can find additional information on that? I’m trying to figure out how to weed out any foreign (non-US) alerts.

Thanks!

Written by: Excel April 2, 2012

Hi Adam. I really liked your post. This 6 tips are golden.

Written by: Shubham Anand July 15, 2012

Hi Adam,

I am very curious to know if there is any service/ trick to receive alerts from particular geography, say Asia or Africa.

Written by: stephen July 18, 2012

Can we confirgure G Alert country wise. like i want alert specific to country.

Written by: Ben August 27, 2012

I set up a number of google alerts last week putting the how often setting to as it happens, but I am now getting sent older articles. Does anyone know why this is happening, and more concerning, will I be sent alerts weeks after they are posted or as they are posted?

Thanks

Written by: internet marketer October 22, 2012

Wonderful article! That is the type of info that are supposed to be shared across the
net. Disgrace on the seek engines for now not positioning this submit
upper! Come on over and consult with my website . Thanks =)

Written by: saj February 17, 2013

Thanks. This is just what I need.

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