Several readers left comments on last week’s Easy Search Traffic post wanting to know more about Google Alerts. While I have mentioned this nifty tool in passing, I have never devoted a post to why or how to set up Google search Alerts.
What Are Google Alerts and Why Should I Use Them?
Alerts allow you to tell Google specific items that you are looking for. When Google comes across these terms on web pages, news articles, or blogs, it will send you a notification letting you know where you can check out what is being said. Just a few of the reasons online business owners and bloggers use Alerts:
- Brand Management (see who is saying what about your business/blog)
- Industry News
- Client/Job Leads
Setting Up Google Alerts
You can create up to 1,000 alerts. After entering your search query term, you will have a few options to set:
- Result type: Everything, News, Blogs, Discussions, Video, Books
- How often: Once a day, one a week, as-it-happens
- How many: Only the best results, all results
- Deliver to: email or feed
If you were not signed into your Google account when setting up the alert and you wish to have notifications sent to an email address, you will receive a verification email.
Sending Google Alerts to RSS
While you can opt to have Google Alerts sent to email, I try to keep my inbox as clean as possible. I send mine to my Google RSS Reader. As my chosen searches are found, they show up in my Reader as they happen. You can choose this option when setting up your Alert by picking Deliver to: Feed. (I also have an older post on how to Organize Your RSS Feeds, for those interested.)
Cancel Google Alerts
If you find you need to narrow down or change a search query, you can always go in an edit the term or add quotes. (Adding quotation marks around your search query will tell Google to only alert you when that exact phrase is found. I use quotes often, especially in alerts for my business/blog names.) If the search isn’t returning results you are looking for, you can cancel the alert altogether. Put a check mark next to the alert you need to nix and hit Delete at the bottom of your Google Alerts page.
Google Alerts are a nice hands-off way to keep tabs on what is happening in your industry or with your brand. Let those searches come to you.
Do you use Google Alerts? What are you watching?