Google has got a wonderful collection of free tools. I have talked about some of these tools in the past and today I would like to focus on Google alerts which is one of my personal favorites that really helps me a great deal with respect to my online life.
What is Google alerts?
Just in case you didn’t know it yet (which I doubt), Google alerts is a web content monitoring service. It’s a free service that anybody with a Google account could readily use and get notifications in your email inbox as and when new web content (news, blog posts, video etc) of your interest is available. Now let us know it in detail and see how it can help you in your online business.
Google alert types & excellent usage patterns
You can get alerts as and when the event occurs or get consolidated alerts once in a day/week. The following are the basic alert types that Google supports:
- News alert: Helps you monitor new news items
- Blog content alert: Keep track of the blogosphere via specific content filters
- Web alert: know what people are searching for or whether people are searching for certain things – again based on your fine filters (Update: As of June first week, Google has retired web alerts and now ‘Everything’ alert is as good as Web alerts)
- Video alert: Know when popular online tube channels get new content
- Groups alert helps you get alerted on groups and forums related content changes
- Everything which means all the above types of content alerts
Well, it sounds ridiculously simple and lame but let us make it more exciting by using appropriate search terms and filters.
1. Track blogosphere
Of course, you have your RSS reader that fetches you updates from those blogs you follow. However, if you want to know what is new in the blogosphere with respect to certain topics, you might want to set a Google alert with alert type as Blog. You may enter as many search terms or keywords as you need to support proper filtering of the alerted content. It can help you not only learn things but also get great blog post ideas as well. Also, if you want to write about a certain topic in the near future, it’s always better to keep Google alerts on those topic search terms.
2. Know what people are talking about you
Well, who doesn’t want to know what others are talking about you? When you are a blogger you might also want to know what people are talking about your blog as well. I have an alert type of Everything on keywords such as dollarshower, “ajith edassery”, “ajith prasad edassery” etc to help Google alert me as and when somebody talks about me or my blog on the web. It can work for you as well.
3. Get to know who is researching your site
This is important as a blogger. Sometimes there are these enthusiastic ‘somebody’ who wants to know your blog/site stats etc. To get an email notification when such people research your blog, place a Web alert type with your site’s URL as the search term in the following format.
4. Help your buying decisions
For most of my online buying, I always used some kind of discount coupons. How do you find the latest coupons on the net? Just place a Web alert type on that product coupon search terms. (e.g. hostgator coupon, maxblogpress ninja affiliate coupon etc). You will be amazed at the number of coupon alerts you may receive, of course depending on the product popularity itself.
5. Know your competition
This one is related to point (2). Just like knowing yourself, you might want to know a little more about your competitors as well in certain cases. For example, the web searches on your competitor keywords or top level domain name itself. You may place appropriate alerts (Web or Blogs) to know more about your competition and then compare it with your own alerts.
6. New products tracking
As and when new products (like Apple iPad) hit the market, there will be a flurry of articles and news items about the same. If you are a keen researcher or want to be always updated about what’s happening around, Google alerts can be a great companion for you. You may use News alert type for any news item related to the new product (search term). Be sure to use multiple search terms such as Apple iPad, iPad launch etc.
7. Track your marketing campaigns
Your marketing campaigns, blog contests, give-aways and the buzz around them can be easily tracked via Google alerts if you use appropriate search terms in Google alerts.
If you are an active Google alert user, you may have other points to add here. If so, please feel free to share the same with our readers.