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Google Alerts is the most powerful free marketing tool that you’re not using.
And by not doing so, you’re missing out on opportunities to grow:
- Your traffic
- Your brand
- Your income
For completely free you can access thousands of pieces of targeted information right in your inbox. Spoon-feeding you the data and resources you need to get ahead of the competition.
From brand monitoring, adding new income streams and opening up new guest post spots, Google Alerts has got you covered.
So if you want to learn how to use Google Alerts to grow your business, read on..
What Will I Learn?
How Google Alerts Will Help You
Google Alerts is the most powerful tool any online marketer has available to them. (Bold statement, I know).
By monitoring the internet for activity around the keywords or topics you care about, you can receive real-time and actionable updates.
Receive alerts daily, weekly or as they happen.
It’s a completely free tool that allows you to:
- Leverage your brand
- Boost traffic
- Harvest hundreds of new opportunities
- Increase your overall sales
Let’s say you’re in the travel niche and you’re interested in guest posting. In Google alerts you’d create an alert that looks like this:
Then every time content relevant to these terms is put on the internet, you’ll receive an alert about it at a frequency that you choose.
So “this guest post” travel would send you an alert to check out this site:
You can then contact them to say you’re interesting in guest posting too.
How simple is that?
As you’ll see later in this article this works for everything from monitoring your brand’s presence online, to finding link building opportunities and important questions you could use your content to answer.
Also, there’s something else that’s really great about Google Alerts…
After all of these years they’re one of the most overlooked tools by internet marketers.
So if you’re one of the few smart marketers who takes the time to use them, you can rest easy in the knowledge that you’re getting a competitive advantage.
Okay, that’s what an alert is, but how do you set one up?
How To Set Up Google Alerts
First you need to know how to set up an alert and each stage of the process.
- Go to the Google Alerts page
- Enter a keyword or search term into the search box
- Adjust the variables to suit the type of alert you want and narrow down the results
- Create the alert
But let’s look a but deeper at how to set up Google Alerts.
Firstly you’ll need to go to the Google Alerts page by clicking here. That’ll take you to a page that looks a little like this:
In the search box you can add in the alerts you want to receive. For this I’m going to stick with the “this guest post” travel alert:
That’ll bring you a whole page of results that will show you whether, up until now, it is a good alert to follow:
Don’t worry if it says there are no recent results when you search, you don’t need 10’s or 100’s of results at this stage. You just need enough content for you to work with.
If there are no real results it may not be worth getting alerts (unless it’s brand related, more on that in the next section) but this alert seems worthwhile.
Before you go ahead and click the Create Alert button though, take the time to click on the Show options button. That’ll give you a list of variables to play with.
For optimal settings I’d suggest you choose:
- How often: Choose this dependent on the alert you’re selecting. You only need Guest Post updates once a week. But if someone mentions my site I want to know about it as it happens.
- Sources: Choose Automatic for this.
- Language: Dependant on the languages you write in or focus on.
- Region: Select the database or country you’re aiming to rank in.
- How many: Again dependant on the alert. If it’s for guest posts I’d select Only the best results but for brand monitoring I was to know everywhere and anywhere.
- Deliver to: Your best email address
Sections like this take longer to read than they do to implement. And once you’ve setup your first three or four updates you can really do this in 10 seconds.
How To Use Google Alerts To Grow Your Business
So now you know how to set up Google Alerts let’s check out the types of alerts you can create and why you need Google Alerts to grow your business.
01: Monitor Your Brand
Brand monitoring allows you to find hundreds of new opportunities from the places you’ve been mentioned.
If your brand name – be it your name or your website name – is mentioned on a website, forum, comment or blog post you’ll receive an alert right to your inbox.
For example if someone mentions Matthew Woodward anywhere online I get an email directly to my inbox telling me where it is and what’s been said.
Like this video description on Vimeo:
Now all I’d need to do is contact the video owner and ask them if he could add a link into the description that brings people back to my blog.
But there are lots of opportunities outside of link building too:
- Feedback: You can see how people are talking about your brand and make informed decisions about the future.
- Networking: Connecting with people who care about your brand and are aligned with your interests.
- Branding: Has someone endorsed you? Well that’s an extra testimonial or logo you can add to your blog to improve your impact.
All you need to do to recreate them is replace my information with yours:
02: Monitor Your Competitors
In addition to monitoring your brand, you should also be looking at what your competition is doing. Because for every alert you can set up for your brand you can set up for theirs too.
There are lots of opportunities here, here are just a few that I personally monitor:
- Positive feedback
- Negative feedback
- New links
- New guest posts
- New content
Now I’m not going to publically reveal who I’ve been monitoring, instead I’ll give you some cookie cutter alerts you can set up in the box below.
“I think” [competitor name]
“Has anyone tried” [competitor name]
“This guest post by” [competitor name]
03: Track Local Content
If your SEO efforts are focused locally, you can also set up alerts to track content in your local area.
This means if there are businesses worth connecting with locally, links to be built or people to outreach to, you can find them almost immediately.
You can either set this up to keep your hand in with local news, or you can make it industry specific too.
Here are a few examples you can use:
“[your topic]” location:New York City, NY
“News” location:Rome, Italy
“[brand name]” location:yourhometown
04: Monitor Questions In Your Niche
This is a simple, but effective, Google Alert that you can’t afford to not be using.
By monitoring questions in your niche you’re able to receive real-time updates about when someone has asked a question you know the answer to.
Meaning you can come in with your authority content, share it with the question asker, and build loyal fans and subscribers as a result of it. It’s giving value in its purest form!
One of the phrases I focus on monitoring all of the topics my site covers. Whether it’s chatter about my affiliate products like SEMRush and SERPed, or industry questions like Google Penalties and Link Building.
Below are the exact alerts I have set up, but you can change link building for whichever topic your content focuses on:
How * link building
Is * link building
Can * link building
When * link building
Why * link building
Will * link building
05: Measure Content Quality
Earlier in this article you saw about selecting Only the best results or All results based on the alert you’re creating.
Think of this as a high quality or standard quality filter that you can use to measure which sites have good and bad content in the eyes of Google.
Most importantly, do this with your site because you can set up Google Alerts to track the quality of your content.
What you need to do is set yourself up two alerts like this:
Site:yourdomain.com + All results
Site:yourdomain.com + Only the best
Meaning you’ll receive one alert for all results and one for the high quality results.
The thinking behind this is that when your content shows up in the only the best results alert your content has reached a much higher standard.
How clever is that?
06: Monitor Your Content Distribution
Chances are you have a flagship piece of content that brings you a whole lot of traffic.
Well now you can use Google Alerts to monitor mentions of that article and see what’s being said.
Allowing you to join the discussion, add links and promote yourself in all corners of the internet at the click of a mouse.
For example my video tutorial series, The Ultimate Guide to Tiered Link Building is quite popular and I have alerts to monitor for mentions of it around the Web.
This alert is super simple to use because all you need to do is focus on variations of the headlines of your article, like:
“ultimate guide to tiered link building”
“ultimate guide to link building”
“tiered link building part”
07: Find New Guest Post Opportunities
Like it or not, guest posting isn’t dead and it sure isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
If there’s a blog out there that does accept guest posts, they more than likely have a Write for Us or Contribute section on their site.
Usually with a contact form or email address to apply for it.
Well you can set up alerts to let you know when sites add these pages, update them or post content in the form of a guest post on their site.
And when they do, you can capitalise on their current need for guest content by being their knight in shining armour.
Here are the alerts I have set up, and all you need to do is swap SEO for your chosen topic to personalise them:
“write for us” SEO
“submit guest post” SEO
“bloggers wanted” SEO
“become a contributor” SEO
“this guest post” SEO
“become an author” SEO
08: Discover New Niches
How great would it be to find brand new niches in your inbox every single week?
Well, with Google Alerts, it’s possible.
Think about setting up alerts such as:
New [technology] this year
New [business strategy] 2017
Hot new [product] 2017
what will happen if [desired/undesired outsome]
09: Monitor Your Site Security
Having your site hacked is up there in the least pleasant experiences in life. But, thankfully, you can set up Google Alerts to inform you of any unusual activity on your site.
If someone decided to break in and add links into the footers, create junk pages, or add a, “LOL WE HACKED U, L8RTZ” blog post to your site, these alerts will let you know.
It’s hard to know 100% what words, phrases or links people are going to leave you with in these situations. So I’ve found creating one long alert for multiple possibilities is quite effective.
Basically take all of the keywords people tend to use in these situations, like viagra or Gucci handbags or porn, and add them to the list.
You can simply edit my site for yours in this and expand upon it where it fits:
site:matthewwoodward.co.uk acne OR botox OR casino OR dating OR debt OR insurance OR mortgage OR paxil OR pharmacy OR phentamine OR pherimones OR poker OR porn OR OR roulette sex OR viagara OR viagra OR xxx
10: Get Immediate Job Alerts
If you’re looking for a new job then you can set up a Google Alert for it.
By using the specific title of the job you’re looking for, or the company you want to work for, you can create an alert to find out when they’re open to application. Giving you a time advantage most other applicants would never have.
Think of creating alerts like:
“Company name” + “Job title”
“Marketing jobs” IKEA
“Apply now” Penguin Books
“Send your cv to” Volkswagen
11: Find Your Next Freelance Gig
If you’re a freelancer looking to grow your business you can also utilise Google Alerts.
You can create an alert for specific sites, companies or projects that you’d be interested in.
For example if you’re a freelance writer you could set an alert for when Problogger Jobs is updated with a role in your niche.
This works for all niches and freelancers too. You could use alerts like:
“Jobs.problogger.net” + “Travel”
“SEO Tools” Freelance Programmer
“Looking for a freelance” Pixar
12: Access Exclusive Discounts And Promotions
Got a favourite brand that you just wish you could get a discount for?
Well, you’re in luck. Google Alerts allows you to track when their next sale, discount or coupon offer goes live.
For example, if you were looking to buy a copy of SEMRush, but didn’t want to pay full retail, you could set up an alert like:
“% discount on” SEMRush
“Save money on” SEMRush
“SEMRush” + “Coupon Code”
13: Monitor Plagiarism
Google Alerts can help you make sure your work is protected. As soon as someone steals a sentence, paragraph or article you can set up an alert to make you aware of it.
Take an excerpt from an article, put it in quotation marks, and set up an alert like I’ve done below. This is great for bloggers and content creators.
“If you’re doing a good job of promoting your site through guest posting, forums, Quora and other networks you’ll be receiving a tonne of referral traffic.”
14: Follow Your Favourite Author
Is there an author who you just love to read from? Well with Google Alerts you can set up an alert to let you know when they’ve posted, or guest posted.
You could even use this to find new sites that are open to guest posting and create your own list based on where the author has written.
I’m a big fan of Derek Sivers, so I could set up an Alert like:
“Derek Sivers” guest post
“This guest post from Derek Sivers”
Derek Sivers “new post”
“Guest Contributor” Derek Sivers
15: Get Local News
I spend most of my life living away from the UK (for various reasons). And with Google Alerts I’m able to keep up to date with local news in my hometown.
This isn’t an essential part of my schedule, but it’s nice to be able to check in. And if you’re an expat you can use this to catch up on specific news too.
“Breaking news” Manchester
“New York” + “News”
16: Find Guest Speaking Opportunities
If you’re looking to get into public speaking, Google Alerts can give you a good platform to find opportunities.
Much like guest writing and blogging you can set up alerts for when opportunities arise.
You can monitor your personal brand and see if you’re being recommended to speak, or find new events to put yourself forward for.
[Niche] “want to see speak”
Matt Woodward “want to speak”
[Niche] “looking for speakers”
Bonus: Finding Link Building Opportunities
There are lots of different platforms out there that make it easy to snag quick backlinks.
Wordpress plugins such as CommentLuv and KeywordLuv allow you to drop keyword based anchor text links on any site that uses them.
So it makes sense for us to setup alerts to notify of those opportunities as they arise. Just replace SEO with your niche below-
SEO +”CommentLuv enabled”
SEO +”enter yourname@yourkeywords” -intitle:”enter yourname@yourkeywords”
Time To Get Creative…
With the information in this article alone you’re going to be able to find hundreds of low-hanging fruits that you can use to boost your results for little to no effort.
But there are endless possibilities of what you can do with this tool.
One question I ask for using this tool is this:
What work do I not want to do, but I also don’t want to outsource?
For example I don’t want to spend hours looking for sites with guest blogging opportunities, but I also don’t want to outsource that to someone for $5 an hour.
Because, why would I when Google Alerts does it for free?
Here are a few other alerts you could setup off the top of my head that might help you:
- Blog posts by specific authors
- New content on a specific subject
- Latest affiliate products on a site
- Upcoming Google algorithm update news
- This years trends you could capitalise on
And if Google Alerts doesn’t do it for you – you can also take advantage of Talkwalker Alerts which works in the same way.
Which leads me to my next questions…
How Do YOU Use Google Alerts?
I’d love to know what alerts you have set up that should have been featured in this article.
What strategies are you using to leverage?
Or, is this a new concept for you and your about to set up Google Alerts for the first time? Which ones are you going to use?
Let me know in the comments…