At face value, Google Alerts comes across as a single-purpose tool that’s good only for monitoring the Web for new content. With a bit of tweaking you can do a lot more with it to help monitor your reputation and content.
Monitor your name
This basic approach allows you to monitor your company or client’s name, product, or branded term. To do this, simply put your client’s name into the “search query” field, leave the result type set to “everything” and then fill out the rest of the form to create an alert. Depending on what you selected from the “how often” dropdown, this simple alert could send you an email every time Google indexes a page that contains your client’s name. All in all, a pretty quick and easy way to see who’s mentioning your client online.
This is by far the most basic form of a Google Alert that most people might be familiar with. As useful and simple as this alert is, you can do much more with Google Alerts to get different and more specific results for your client. Here are a few more ideas:
Want to see which websites are linking back to your site or blog post? In the search query box, type this: link:http://www.my-website-name.com. This is a great way to see what other sites have referenced your client’s website or content. Not only can you see who’s referencing your client, but identifying who these sites are might offer further networking and outreach. If you want to monitor only blogs, select “blogs” from the “result type” dropdown menu.
Want to see if another site has plagiarized your client’s content? In the search query box simply add a unique sentence from your client’s materials. You’ll get an alert if another website has used the same phrasing. Keep in mind that the site in question might have quoted the text, so be sure to read the article that prompted the alert.
Monitor a specific website
Rather than set up an alert that monitors the entire Web, an alert can get set up to monitor a specific website. This is a great option if you know which websites might be mentioning your client or content. To do this, type this in the search query box: “what you want to monitor” site:http//site-you-want-to-monitor.com. This technique is also a great way to monitor Craigslist for stuff you are looking for. As you can see I have several alerts set up for some car parts. When a part gets posted that matches my term, I get an email.
Monitor local news
This is great if you’re interested in monitoring local publications from a specific state for your client. Google Alerts will recognize state codes in your query so you can keep a close eye on a specific state’s news. First, make sure that you have “news” selected from the “result type” dropdown menu, as this functionality doesn’t really work with other result types. Then add a location to the query. So, if you wanted to monitor local news in New York for your client, this is what you would put in the query field: “term you are monitoring” location:ny
Monitor the competition
Most of the above techniques can be used to monitor your competition, too. Simply replace “clients” with “competition,” and you can set up alerts to monitor what your competition is doing online.
Google Alerts can be extremely helpful and useful. Pretty much any advanced Google search technique can get integrated into an alert. You just need to experiment and get creative with it. Check out this infographic on “How to use Google search” it might provide some more inspiration for a Google Alert. Also, if you want explicit results be sure to wrap your search term in double quotes. This will limit the results to exactly what you are looking for.
A version of this post first appeared on The Buzz Bin.