As a small business owner, I prefer simple tools. I like having one tool that I can push to the limits over a slew of them that I have to manage. It makes my life a little easier and my processes more streamlined. Which is why I’m a huge fan of using Google Alerts.
Google Alerts lets you set up as many Alerts as you’d like on as many different topics as you’d like. You set what to track, what kinds of content to track (News, Blogs, Video, Groups, or Comprehensive ), how often you want it and they’ll create you a list every day and send it to you via email or RSS.
Google Alerts have always been a super easy way to track conversations, keywords, and your brand but that’s not all they can be used for. I thought I’d break down a few of my favorite ways to use Google Alerts and see if maybe some of them could help you as well.
How Does It Work
Google Alerts sends you an email each time a new page for your chosen term makes it in the top twenty results on Google’s web search. You can also have the alert check Google News and/or Google Groups.
To sign up for a Google Alert, all that you need to do is visit the Google Alerts homepage, enter the search term, type of alert (search Google News, Google Groups, or the web), frequency of emails (daily, as it happens, or weekly), and your email address.
You can set up alerts for as many terms as you like using a Google Account. So why would you want an unlimited amount of alerts? Because as an organization executive or a business owner, you have a lot to keep track of and very limited time to do it.
Here are four ways I use Google Alerts.
What other things do you intend on tracking?
- Tracking Keywords
This is how most of us use Google Alerts. By creating Alerts based around your most important keywords, you’re able to find new information about topics you’ve told Google you’re interested in. Doing this can help give you food for blog entries, guest articles, newsletters and help you stay better informed overall. Keeping on top of what’s happening in your industry will help you make better decisions in your business and alert you to new products or strategies that can help you do things smarter. Using Google Alerts to track relevant information is great.
The problem with tracking broad keywords is that Google often finds information that’s not as relevant as you’d like. To help cure this a bit, you can use advanced search operators to help you filter out bad results. For example, if you are an Architecture Historians organization interested in what's being said on the topic, you could have set up an alert for [Architecture + Historians]. This would make sure that you only received architecture historians articles, instead of everything being published about the architecture. In the same way, [Architecture -historians] would omit any mention of Architecture where the term [historians] was present, while [Architecture OR historians] would show mentions where at least one term was included. It’s all about making your results more relevant.
- Track yourself
It goes without saying, if it’s important to know what people are saying about your competitors and about your industry, it would stand to reason that it’s important to know what people are saying about you.
I have Google Alerts on both my name ("Antoine Dupont") and my businesses name ("Admin eSolutions"). I know that they go hand in hand and if one is getting slandered you better bet it will hurt the other. By receiving alerts, you can be on top of anything negative relating to you or your organization, and hopefully nip any problem in the bud before it grows too large.
On the flip side, there’s nothing better than receiving an alert where someone praises your organization. Those are the types of things that you want to make sure are on the PR page of your website.
- Track your competition
Every non profit organization or business has a competitor. More likely, you have several direct competitors and several more indirect competitors. While regularly checking out their websites is an important part of the process, it doesn’t paint the whole picture. A competitor's non profit website is very much crafted to the image that they want to portray to their customers.
This is great if you want to know what their latest event is or their last blog, but it isn’t likely to feature a negative review in last Sunday’s newspaper.
That’s where Google Alerts comes in. By simply setting up a News, Groups, and search alert for each of your competitors, you will know what other people are saying about your competition, both good and bad.
- Keep Up To Date on Your Industry
Equally as important as what people are saying about your competition is what people are saying about your industry in general. If there’s a negative PR swing against your industry, and you just happen to run non profit websites in that same industry , you will probably be affected.
By receiving alerts on important key words related to your industry, you can be on top of any sudden changes and react accordingly. By the time your competition realizes what’s happening they will be scrambling to catch up to you.