Use Google Alerts for Your Business (and to Improve Search Results)
by Stephanie Chandler
One of the most useful tools released by Google in recent years is its powerful Google Alerts (Google.com/alerts), the free means of getting email notifications when keywords and phrases that you specify appear on Web sites, blogs, online news channels, and more.
You can set up many different kinds of alerts for the benefit of your business.
Business name. Keep track of Web sites that mention your company. When you do, you’ll have opportunities to send notes of thanks or to address an issue if something derogatory is posted, like a complaint about customer service. Big companies track mentions of their businesses online, and you should too.
Personal name. Find out where you’re mentioned online. This is especially important for authors, speakers, celebrities, and individuals who are service providers.
Web site. Track where your site is mentioned by creating an alert for your domain. Leave off the leading www and specify just the domain and extension (for example: authoritypublishing.com).
Blog. If you host a blog, follow the Web site guidelines above to create an alert for your blog domain. This should also produce results if your blog link is posted somewhere with a specific pointer to one of your pages.
Titles. If you distribute articles for online marketing purposes, create an alert for each article title so that you can track where your articles are appearing. You can use this same strategy for tracking book titles.
Industry research. To stay on top of industry news, create alerts for keywords and key phrases for your industry. For example, I have alerts for “publishing industry” and “business book.” This makes it easy to keep up with developments, the competition, and much more. If you are using social-networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, this kind of alert can help you locate useful content for microblogging and give you topic ideas to cover in your blog.
Competitive research. Would you like to find out who is talking about your competition, or where they are being mentioned? Create alerts for each competitor’s business name and/or Web site URL.
Lead generation. If breaking news can produce leads for your company, use Google Alerts for relevant phrases. For example, if you publish books for job hunters and want to find out what companies are hiring in Sacramento, you could create several alerts: “now hiring Sacramento,” “job posting Sacramento,” and “job listing Sacramento.”
Lead research. When you want to land a company as a buyer or a partner, create alerts to stay on top of the company’s most recent online activity. They can provide valuable insight into what the company is up to and who is talking about it.
Top buyers research. Track activity for your top 10 to 20 current buyers to get valuable insights into what they’re doing, plus reasons to contact them. For example, if one of your accounts gets media coverage, you will learn about it right away and can send a note of congratulations.
Stephanie Chandler, the author of several business and marketing books including From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur: Make Money with Books, eBooks and Information Products, is founder and CEO of AuthorityPublishing.com, which provides custom book-publishing and author-marketing services for business, self-help, and other nonfiction books. To learn more, visit StephanieChandler.com.
Useful Google Search Tricks
Exact keyword search. You can specify an exact keyword by putting a plus sign (+) in front of it. For example, if you search for the word “publish,” Google search results will include “publishing” and “publisher.” Adding a plus sign before the word (+publish) will ensure that you receive exact matches.
Exact key phrase search. When you search for a phrase, Google results will return anything that includes all the words in the phrase, whether or not they occur together. But if you enclose your search in quotes (“how to publish a book”), the results will include only that exact phrase.
Alternate keyword. To run a search for related terms use OR between them (the letters OR must be capitalized). For example, “author OR writer” will return results with either keyword. For a more complex search—for instance, “(author OR writer) business books”—you can enclose one part in parentheses.
Synonyms. If you want your search results to return related terms, use a tilde (~) in front of the word. For example, if you use “~author,” Google returns results that include “book,” “writer,” and “literature.”
Search a single Web site. To track new entries on a specific site, you can use the “site:” operator. One example: if you want to track mentions of business books on the New York Times site, your search would look like this: “business book” site:nytimes.com.