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What Are Google Alerts? 10 Ways To Stay Ahead of the Competition
Google Alerts header

Yuan Yang

Content Editor and Customer Support at Textr
Published Jun 11, 2021

What are Google alerts and how can they help your business?

Google Alerts is a free email subscription service that sends you notifications with summaries for search queries. These alerts can be useful for a number of reasons, such as following news coverage, monitoring a brand, or keeping up to date on fast-changing industries.

In this article, we’ll look at how to set up Google Alerts and how to use the service to stay ahead of the competition.

Google alerts phone

How to Set Up Google Alerts

Google Alerts couldn’t be easier to set up. As you create your alerts, you’ll be able to see a preview of how they’ll appear in your inbox. You can begin using the service to monitor content on the web in under a minute by following these seven simple steps:

  1. Navigate to www.google.com/alerts in your browser.
  2. Type in the search query you wish to receive notifications on.
  3. Click ‘show options’ and choose how often you would like to receive alerts. This ranges from as they happen to once per week.
  4. Select which sources you want to use. Your options include news, blogs, websites, videos, books, discussions and finance. Leave this on automatic if you want Google to decide which results are relevant.
  5. Choose how many results you want to see. You can receive alerts for every result or only the best.
  6. Select the email address you want your alerts sent to. You can also choose to use an RSS feed if you like.
  7. Click ‘create alert’.

How Google Alerts Keeps You Ahead of the Competition

For a completely free service, Google Alerts is a great way to get the drop on your competition when sourcing information and planning the next move in your marketing strategy. Here are ten examples of how to use Google Alerts to your advantage.

1) Save time on research

Google Alerts is an excellent time-saving tool as you won’t need to perform regular searches in order to stay up to date on different brands and industries. Instead, simply set up an alert and have your results delivered straight to your inbox. If you find yourself regularly performing the same Google searches, you could save yourself the effort by setting up daily or instant alerts.

2) Check up on your competitors

It never hurts to know what the competition is up to, and Google Alerts is an incredibly effective way of automating your research. Type in the name of your competitors and have information and news delivered to you as frequently as you’d like. If you find a website with links to your competitors, there’s a chance they might be willing to link to you as well.

Checking on competitors

3) Learn more about your own business

Find out exactly when and where your company’s name is mentioned on the web with Google Alerts. As well as setting up an alert for your business name (and any common misspellings), you could also try creating an alert for various products or services your company provides.

4) Keep tabs on newly published content

Inbound marketing is one of the best ways to attract traffic to your business. Setting up Google Alerts for your recently published blog posts and articles is a good way to find out exactly when your content has been indexed by Google. Try setting up alerts for your company name, blog post titles, and site URLs. Another advantage is that you’ll be able to see if your content has been republished by another site to check that you’ve been properly linked and credited.

Tracking content on laptop

5) Uncover opportunities for collaborations and links

With Google Alerts, you can see when another website or blog mentions your business and use this as an opportunity to work together. There’s a good chance you’ll stumble across a few unlinked mentions. Why not reach out to the site’s owners and convert the mention into a link? Better yet, if you’re finding positive mentions of your company through Google Alerts, see if you can collaborate with those sites on content and campaigns that benefit you both.

6) Read good (and bad) reviews

Creating a Google Alert to monitor your brand and products should return some reviews, but the more mentions your company has, the easier these are to miss. Here’s how to set up Google Alerts to only show you reviews: type in ‘[brand name] + intitle:review’. Don’t forget, it’s important to read the negative reviews too, even if they’re hard to swallow. These can help your business grow and let you know what (if anything) you’re doing wrong.

Checking customer reviews

7) Monitor your SEO keywords

Google Alerts is a useful tool to check up on your keywords and make sure your SEO strategy is getting the right results. By setting up alerts for your main keywords, you’ll be able to see how other websites and brands are using them. With alerts, you’ll be able to discover other relevant keywords to use too.

8) Track backlinks

Link building is a key part of any marketing strategy, and that includes tracking backlinks to your site. If another site is linking to your landing page or content, it’s important to know about it. Setting up a Google Alert for your various URLs is an excellent way to see how other sites are generating traffic for you.

Phone SEO backlink tracking

9) Inspire your content

One benefit of using Google Alerts that shouldn’t be overlooked is that it can inspire ideas for your content. By tracking what’s trending within your niche, you should be able to get a pretty good idea of the type of topics you could be writing about in your blog posts. Google Alerts can suggest topics for you, just put an asterisk into your search query and Google will replace it with suitable suggestions.

10) Generate guest post opportunities

Lots of companies use the same old tactics to find guest post opportunities, so why not shake it up with Google Alerts? You can find results that you’d otherwise miss by using footsteps like [your niche] + “guest post by” in your search query. Do this and you’ve essentially got an unlimited stream of potential guest post opportunities delivered to your inbox. Side note: remember to add quotation marks around phrases to search for that exact phrase.

Guests post and collaboration

Who Should Use Google Alerts?

As a free tool, there’s really no limit to who can use Google Alerts. Some companies might find it more beneficial than others though. If your brand relies heavily on blog posts as part of its marketing strategy, Google Alerts can be very useful in generating topic ideas, tracking your published content and finding potential guest bloggers. Google Alerts can also be great for e-commerce stores, as you can see how your individual products are performing, check up on your competitors and gain some insight into useful keywords.

There are some limitations and disadvantages to using Google Alerts. Firstly, it can be unreliable and doesn’t always properly notify you of mentions, as multiple users have pointed out on the tech giant’s help forum. That’s a pretty big pitfall, especially if you’re working in communications. PR companies who rely on accurate monitoring will probably want to use a paid alternative to Google Alerts.

Business competition alerts on computer

Final Considerations

If you’re interested in increasing the online presence of your business or monitoring different topics and keywords, you’ll find Google Alerts is a good starting off point. There are no detailed analytics like you’ll get with several alternative services, but for a free tool it’s robust enough that you shouldn’t ignore its potential applications.

FAQs

Are there any alternatives to Google Alerts

There are plenty of alternatives to Google Alerts. Some of the best options are Awario, Mention, Social Searcher, Keynote, and Talkwalker. Most of these offer both free and premium pricing plans.

How reliable are Google Alerts?

It varies. Casual users will probably be pleased with the free service that Google provides, but as we mentioned earlier, the results aren’t always 100% reliable. For this reason, larger enterprises usually use Google Alerts as a back-up to their main monitoring service.

How long does it take to set up Google Alerts?

Google Alerts is very quick to set up. It depends on how advanced you want your alerts to be, but we managed to create an alert for mentions of Textr in twenty seconds.

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