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Quick Guide to Using Google Alerts

Google has so many tools, it’s hard to know which ones to use! The answer is usually most of them if you’re running a web marketing campaign, but we know it’s important to prioritize. Because we care about the limited time we all have, we’ll be periodically highlighting the Google tools you should definitely be using, and the ones we use regularly.

We’ll start with one you can set up right now, in only a few minutes! Let’s do this.

What are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts InterfaceGoogle Alerts are your friend. As Google puts it, they’re “email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries.” Google alerts will tell you if someone just posted an article about your business, or if you were mentioned in a press release.

They’re a great free tool for online reputation management. That’s its own whole discussion topic, but in short, we all want to know what’s being said about us, our company, our products — whatever is important to us. If there’s a problem, we want to know about it. You want an opportunity to respond or to contact the author, if appropriate (and if you’re contemplating it, check out our post on responding to negative comments). If someone is raving about you (much better!) you definitely want to know about it. You want to have a reason to go out and celebrate, right?! You didn’t really need an excuse, but now you have one.

Setting up a Google Alert

Okay, you’re sold! What next? Go to: www.google.com/alerts.

  1. Enter your search query.
    What should this be? You can choose! Common ones to start are your name, your organization, your products. You can keep track of your competitors — set up an alert with your competitor’s names, and be notified when they have news or related search results. Track industry terms, or developing news stories. Use quotes for specific terms — “your company” will get the most accurate results.
  2. Choose a result type.
    Do you want everything, or one specialized area? Choices include: News, Blogs, Videos, Discussions, Books. You might only want to follow News alerts from a competitor, but want everything for your name or business.
  3. Choose how often.
    What you choose here depends on a few factors, most notably how often do you want to hear about it, how many alerts will you get, and how frequently do you need to act on them. Choices are as it happens, once a day, or once a week. (Note: you can edit these, so if you choose ‘as it happens’ and get overwhelmed by email alerts, you can change it!)
  4. Choose how many results.
    You can get all alerts, or only the best, in which case Google will choose and remove duplicate content.
  5. Choose how you want to get the info.
    Do you want emails? If you’re logged into Google, your email will appear along with a feed option, if you’d rather use a feed in your RSS reader.

That’s it! You’re good to go. If you need to edit your alerts, you can click ‘manage alerts’ or visit www.google.com/alerts/manage. You can edit any alerts or remove as needed.

Check back soon for future posts on Google Optimizer, in-depth looks at Google Analytics, and more fun (and free!) Google tools you can leverage now. Cheers!

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