Google Alerts is a special feature from Google that gets personalized search results delivered to you. Typically these search results are gotten from keywords that you want Google to help you track online.

Google Alerts is one of the most versatile online tools. It allows you to listen to conversations you may not be aware of. Conversations that involve you or your brand (and maybe even your competitors). As you manage your online presence, it’s important to listen to what people are saying and how they are saying it.

You want to know if other sites are linking to you, quoting you, supporting you, or complaining about you. You want to know what your competition is up to and how they are faring. Enter Google Alerts, the free online tool that lets you track keywords and phrases effortlessly so you never miss another important conversation.

As a business owner, you can use Google Alerts to keep tabs on who’s mentioning you, your product/service, or website. You can also use it as a sort of writing prompt. If you set up alerts for specific keyword phrases related to your niche, you’ll see results from others and can get a feel for what’s being talked about. You can build on those ideas or maybe see what’s missing and fill in that gap with your own article.

Another way Google Alerts can help your brand is by stalking your competition for you, You can get first-hand updates on what your competition is up to and be proactive. It will also help you know when a rival brand is rapidly gaining more traction than you are.

Enough of the intro, let’s show you a step by step approach to creating a Google Alert!

A step by step guide to creating Google Alerts

Google Alerts

Step 1: Go to http://www.google.com/alerts/

Step 2:  Sign in if you have a Gmail account. If you don’t have a Gmail account, you can just start filling out the Google Alert form.

Google Alerts

Step 3: Enter the search terms you want the Google Alert to track, separated by commas. You can edit this later if you find you have too many or too few terms. If you’re not sure what to track, start with your name and your blog’s name. You may also want to include keyword phrases related to your brand and your niche.

Step 4: Choose the type of results you want Google Alerts to find and share with you. You can choose from the following:

  • News
  • Blogs
  • Video
  • Discussions
  • Books
  • Everything (so you can track it all)

Step 5: Choose how often you’d like to receive your Google Alerts. If you’re tracking a timely project or news story, you may want to choose as it happens. But if you’re just keeping tabs on something that mildly interests you, but isn’t critical, you can choose once a week.

Google Alerts

Step 6: Choose how many results you want to get. You can receive “only the best results” or “everything” depending on your needs.

Step 7: Choose where you’d like the Google Alerts delivered. If you have a Gmail account, you can receive them via gmail. If you’d rather not, you can receive them via RSS or another email account.

Step 8: Click the Create Alert button and finish.

That’s all you need to do. I find it amazing that this feature is free!

Extra tips on using Google Alerts

There are a few simple tips that can help you refine your results on Google Alerts. These tips also work while searching on Google. To show these tips, lets start with a simple search for the keyword “digital marketing”. Here’s what I see

digital marketing

 

Including more relevant results:

Use the ‘+’ character to only get results that include a particular word in your search. Here, I’m going to try “+nigeria” notice how the results change to show articles related to Nigeria

 

Eliminating irrelevant results:

What I’m going to do next is eliminate irrelevant results showing up here, for example, the results about sports and beer. So I’m going to include “-sports -beer” in my query. Here’s the result of that

digital marketing and nigeria minus sports and beer

 

Now we have a much more relevant stream of results. You can continue with this process and keep fine tuning the results you see in real time. Last tip

Get more precise with your base keyword:

When you put in a keyword like your name, take mine for example Osaze Osoba, you ten to get topics that have both these words in their content, irrespective of arrangement. Here’s an example:

osaze osoba

 

In this case, the last three posts have shown up simply because they have the words “osaze” and “osoba” in them. But obviously those guys aren’t me. So to fine tune this result, I’m going to type in “osaze osoba” with the quote marks instead. Here’s what happens

osaze osoba phrase match

 

Notice how all irrelevant results are now taken out? For a result to show up now, it must contain exactly Osaze Osoba in that order. This is called phrase matching. You can use it in filtering out a lot of irrelevant results.

Go ahead and try this out, especially for your name and the name of your brand, it could provide a lot of insight on the kind of content being published about you online. Let us know in the comments box below if you’re facing any issues refining your results.