In many prior posts, I emphasized how everyone should be using Google Alerts to monitor the online presence of his or her name AND company’s name. Monitoring these will alert you whenever any site is talking about you, revealing both potential reputation management issues, and opportunities for outreach and growth.
In my last post, Step by Step Guide to Setup Your Google Alerts, I gave easy step by step instructions for how to use and setup Google Alerts for your name and company name. Today, I wanted to share with you some additional unique and creative ways to use Google Alerts to help you gain customers, keep up with your competition, and other purposes.
1. Identify your Competition.
Create a Google Alert for a few different popular keywords in your niche. If a single domain name keeps appearing, then there is a very good chance that it is a competitor, and you should set up an alert to spy on its domain (see tip #2).
2. Keep Track of and Spy on Your Competition.
Create a Google Alert for your competitor’s site, which will allow you to keep an eye on how and what your competition is doing. For example, the search term: link:www.competition.com would allow you to be alerted each time somebody links to your competition For example, if you are PetSmart, you may want to try the search term link:www.petco.com.
To focus on a more specific aspect of your competitor’s site, try the search term: “keyword” site:www.competition.com. For example, if you are a company specializing in organic dog food, you may want to try “organic dog food” site:www.petco.com. This would allow you to identify whenever Petco begins offering or talking about a type of organic dog food on its site.
3. Find Jobs through Google Alerts.
Create a Google Alert with keywords for specific organizations and positions you are looking for. For example, the search term: “job” and “marketing” and “Google” would be appropriate when keeping an eye out for marketing jobs at Google.
4. Find New Leads and Potential Customers.
If you know what your customers may be looking for, set up a few alerts with questions as the search term to capture those who are actively asking those questions on sites such as Yahoo! Answers. You can then visit the site and answer the question and/or follow up with that individual directly in an email to address their question and offer your product or service as a solution.
For example, using the search term: “how do I improve my website?” I can find individuals interested in improving their website, and contact them to suggest purchasing the web site evaluation that I offer in order to identify areas of the site that can be enhanced to increase conversion and sales.
You can try setting up several variations of the questions to capture as many potential leads as possible. Because you use quotes and are looking for a very specific combination of keywords, your inbox will not be inundated with a countless number of results even if you setup 20+ alerts.
5. Answer Your Questions and Gather Opinions.
Using a * in a Google search is a little-known, but powerful search operator. The * in a Google search is used as a wildcard, meaning that the * can represent any word. For example, if you want to know what the blogosphere thinks is the most valuable social media tool, set up a Google Alert for the search term: * is the most valuable social media tool, or to be more generic, use the search term: * is the best social media tool.
6. Gather Data.
Set a Google alert for new statistics or studies about certain topics to get the most up to date data available. For example, to be notified when studies or statistics are released for childhood obesity, use the search term: childhood obesity statistics, or search term: childhood obesity research study.
Take a look at Google’s Search Operators for more inspiration on how you can use Google Alerts in some interesting and different ways. How do YOU use Google Alerts? Feel free to share your creative renditions on how to use Google Alerts in the comments section.