I am pretty sure a lot of you heard of Google Alerts and are using it. But let’s tell those who don’t, what are Google Alerts, how to use them to spy on your competition and how to get a few more uses out of it.
On Google Alerts home page you can see they advertise it as a tool for monitoring news, keeping current on competitors, keeping up with celebrities or your favorite sport team.
You can find Google Alerts start page by clicking here. (Clicking on this link will open a new window so you can read this post and set up the alert following the instructions.)
When you open the window, you will see a page where you can set up your first alert.
On the left part of the window you will see this:
The first field is “Search terms“. Type in a word (keyword) you are interested in. You can see a preview by clicking on the “Preview results” link.
Choose the type of alert. If you want to keep up with your favorite celebrity you will probably want to choose “news” or “realtime”. If you are searching for blogs to comment on in your niche, choose “blogs”.
For starters you should choose “everything” just to see what results will Google deliver to your e-mail. You can edit the settings any time.
“How often” depends on how full you want your inbox to be. I usually choose “once a day” because it is the easiest way for me to keep up with everything I wanna know, without getting too many e-mails.
Choosing the volume, again, depends on how much info you need. Test it and see what works the best for you.
Enter your e-mail, where you want the results to be delivered, and hit “Create alert”.
Every e-mail you get from Google Alerts is going to have three links at the bottom (see the image on the right). They are pretty self-explanatory. You can use those to go directly to remove, create or manage alerts.
Clicking on Manage your alerts will take you to the manager. You will have a list of your alerts there. You can edit them by clicking the edit link on the far right hand side.
Here are some settings I use, and explanation why I use them that way (to see how it looks click on the image on the right):
- the keywords I am following related to this blog are set up to send one e-mail a day, with the best results, from blogs
- I chose once a day because that way I can focus on them for half an hour or so. I didn’t choose as-it-happens because those keywords appear pretty often and my inbox would be filled all day long. I didn’t choose once a week because there would be too many results and I could not keep up.
- I chose best results because I obviously want to focus on the best :)
- I chose results from blogs because I want to see what my competition is doing. Also, if there is a great post on the keyword, I sure wanna read it. This is also a chance of you running into a great post you want to comment on.
- I have an alert set for my domain name. The settings include everything (not just blogs), as-it-happens, all results.
- I want to know about every mention of my blog when ever it happens.
- I have a niche website I hardly work on. It is ranked good in Google, it is making money, so I’ve put it aside until I build this blog to a certain level. I do have alerts for best keywords for that website as well. The settings for the website are blogs, once a week, all results.
- I set it up to blogs cause I can comment on them and build an extra link or two for it. That is basically all I do for the site at this moment, build an occasional link.
- Once a week because I don’t have time to go through that site’s keywords every day and getting a list of posts once a week is just enough for now.
- All results because I want to keep up with the news in the niche.
You saw my “strategy” and I am sure you connected the dots between what I wanna learn through the alerts and how much time I have / info I need.
So now you know how to set them up and you got a few ideas on how to use alerts. How about some extra tips :)
Google Alerts extra tips and ideas
What can Google Alerts do for you?
Find new blogs. I am always on the lookout for new blogs. Not necessarily new in the blogosphere, but new to me, the ones I haven’t heard of yet.
When you find new blogs in your niche, you found new source of ideas and learning material.
When you find new blogs, you found new places to comment on. That is also a new source of traffic and a new source of back links.
You will stay up to date with news in your niche.
You will stay up to date with what your competition is doing.
Spy and learn from competition
I talked to some of my friends about this post and was surprised that they are not using one really cool spy feature of the alerts.
When you go into your alerts e-mail, you will see titles and descriptions from all the posts.
Now, if you go blog hopping and reading posts, you will see some good titles, but how many blogs can you visit every day?
With alerts you get all of them in an e-mail. You get the titles and descriptions of your competition’s posts.
What can you learn from this? Learn how to write great titles and descriptions.
Which title did entice you to click on it? Copy it into a spreadsheet or a text file and collect all the great titles you see. You can always get ideas from a file like that and see what kind of title gets the click. If you wanted to click on it, others probably feel the same.
Same goes for descriptions. Copy the best of them into a file and read them when you are creating your own description. Don’t copy them to use them as your own, of course, but learn from them.
So instead looking at Google Alerts as a news update tool look at it as a great keyword research tool, competition spy tool, learning tool…
You can use Google+ Sparks in similar way with the option to share the stuff with your Google+ network.
Now it is your turn to give more ideas on how to use Google Alerts to make your blog better and rank it higher. Also, I would be grateful if you would share this post with your friends…