How to Set Up Google Alerts – The Ultimate Tutorial12 min read27/02/2019
Being quite simple, the Google Alerts service has a huge potential. In fact, few people know how to properly use it in order to ensure effective brand reputation monitoring. Indeed, Google’s product has a number of disadvantages in comparison with advanced expensive solutions from vendors like Mention or Awario. However, Google Alerts is what small and medium enterprises can use to track what their target audiences think of them without spending any funds.
When it comes to consumer-oriented businesses, one of the most important promotion aspects is creating a positive image of the company. This is why commercial organizations should monitor their brand mentions on the Internet and remain up-to-date in order to be able to timely react to negative feedbacks. Otherwise, companies can miss a moment where they still can rebuild their strategy and save the overall business.
Either black-hat competitors or offended customers unsatisfied with the quality of your service or product can spread out information capable of affecting brand reputation. One way or another, you should know when it happens and make proper steps towards solving the case. By properly setting up Google Alerts, you can keep your hand on a pulse of brand mentions on the Internet.
What is Google Alerts?
Google Alerts is an online service that detects mentions based on specific keywords and delivers links to these mentions to a certain email address. As an effective tool for search engine reputation management (SERM), this solution monitors the Internet and sends brand new mentions found in blogs or news to a user.
How does Google Alert work? – You just need to create an alert you need to regularly receive the latest information on a particular topic. The service monitors indexed webpages that appear in Google Search results. When it detects a post containing a specific keyword, you will receive an email notification. Like any other tools, Google Alerts has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Here are the advantages of Google Alerts.
Google Alerts is an absolutely free online service. While various media monitoring tools with sentiment analysis can cost up to $10,000 per year, you have no need to pay for Google Alerts to use it on a lifetime basis.
Anyone can deal with a simple configuration process offered by Google Alerts. This service has a single page with a few options you should set up using a dropdown or mark-based list. The overall configuration process usually takes up to a couple of minutes.
Here are the disadvantages of Google Alerts.
No social media monitoring
Unfortunately, you won’t get mentions from social networks like Facebook or Instagram. The reason why Google Alerts is incapable of social media monitoring lays in its working principle. The thing is search engines don’t properly index social network posts so Google doesn’t show them in search results. Since Google Alerts relies on search results, you can’t monitor your brand mentions in social networks.
Google Alerts provides no reports or analysis including sentiment analysis. The service delivers simple emails with links to online news or blog posts containing the keywords you’ve entered when conducting the Google Alerts setup. The tool offers no dashboard either. If you need to analyze your brand mentions, you have to manually create reports using, for example, Google Spreadsheets.
Lack of results
Unfortunately, Google Alerts can’t detect all your mentions on the Internet. If you receive a few results on a daily basis, it doesn’t mean that these are all results for sure. They may be much more in total so you still can miss important feedback. As a result, you may not react to it to protect your brand image.
If your brand has already gained some popularity on the Internet, you may often receive automatic emails from email@example.com. It can overload your inbox folder and will disturb you with any unimportant notification. To manage your emails, you can use the Google Inbox service. Just create a new folder, name it something like “Mentions”, and set it as a target folder for all messages coming from Google Alerts.
What is the purpose of Google Alerts?
Working with negative feedbacks is important for creating a profitable company. According to Moz.com, if customers find negative information on the first page of search results, a commercial organization can lose up to 22% of potential sales. So businesses can greatly benefit from Google Alerts. It’s a useful brand reputation tool for:
- Celebrities. Showbiz people can track how people estimate their creation.
- Bloggers. Blog owners can improve their SEO-visibility by tracking mentions and asking for linking their website.
- Online stores. Ecommerce business owners and their managers can timely respond to negative queries.
- Software developers. Software developers can detect the illegal distribution of their solutions on torrent platforms.
There are many other ways you can use Google Alerts.
Besides your own brand, you can track new information about your competitors. Just create an alert with a company name keyword and receive notifications with posts about your competitor. Thus, you will always be aware of what’s going on in the market and which steps you should make next in order to be prepared for upcoming changes. Furthermore, you will be able to analyze received data and modify your marketing strategy in the way to start leading the way.
By setting up Google Alerts in a proper way, you can track new backlinks linking to your website. For this purpose, you should create an alert with your domain as a keyword, for example, cyberpulse.info. You also can track hyperlinks with your brand name in anchors using the inanchor operator. The inanchor:cyberpulse keyword will make the tool deliver all results with hyperlinks containing cyberpulse in the anchor.
You can check the Internet for plagiarism using the tool from Google. In other words, you can detect webpages containing text copy-pasted from your website. To set up Google Alerts in the ways to check plagiarism, you should enter a phrase from your post in quotes. This will deliver results with the exact content match.
Regardless of the fact that Google Alerts is mostly about brand reputation, individuals also can benefit from this service. For example, you can receive notifications about new discounts and special offers in the necessary niche. Set site:grammarly.com discount OR sale OR special offer as a means of a keyword to receive notifications about new opportunities from Grammarly.
Ecommerce businesses can significantly expand their product list thus closing the gap of those items related to their niches. Moreover, they can discover trendy products with existing demand. In other words, online store owners can understand what else they can sell to increase their revenue. For example, by using a keyword trendy shoes, owners of new small shoe stores can understand what they should sell to maximize their profit.
Many blogs offer email subscription for their newest posts. However, some websites may not have this feature. With Google Alerts, you can create your own list and subscribe for a number of interesting blogs. For example, using site:techcrunch.com OR cyberpulse.info OR moz.com, you can subscribe for TechCrunch, CyberPulse, and Moz with one alert.
When it comes to looking for a new job, searching for them on online job posting platforms and exploring Linkedin are time-consuming tasks. Moreover, you can find out that the vacancy you’re interested in has been expired. To timely react to vacancies in specific companies, you can create a suitable alert using the site operator. Since organizations often post information about new job opportunities on their websites, you can timely detect them using a command like site:google.com vacancy OR jobs OR job.
You can remain up-to-date on the topic you’re interested in. Any blog post or news containing a specific keyword will come to your email inbox folder. For example, use the cybersecurity keyword to receive guides on website cyber protection, tips on how to avoid personal data disclosure, etc. In other words, you will receive any information containing this word.
To set up a Google alert, you must have a registered Gmail account you should sign in first.
- Visit the official Google Alerts page.
- Type in your keyword. You can see future results in a preview more on the same page. The service will automatically set your email address as a target alert delivery one.
- Click on “Show options”.
- In the “How often” menu option, you can choose the frequency of your notifications.
- In the “Sources” menu option, you can choose which types of websites Google’s crawler will explore to deliver results to your email.
- Select a language for your alerts.
- Select a region for your alerts.
- In the “How many” menu option, you can choose whether you need to receive all alerts.
- Choose the email address you want to receive alerts at.
- Click on the “Create Alert” button.
Let’s consider each configuration option in details.
Google Alerts allows you to choose how often you want to receive alerts. Available options are:
- At most once a day
- At most once a week
The right choice depends on the level of your brand popularity. The more popular your company is, the lower frequency should be. If your brand is well-known, then notifications will often disturb you. You should adjust the message frequency to the schedule of your mention analysis. In the case where you analyze your brand name mentions on the Internet once a week, then no need for choosing the At most once a day or As-it-happens option.
In addition, you take into account whether your brand name is a unique word like Amazon or it’s rather a common word like Secure. In the latter case, you have to understand that you will receive all results containing the word “secure”. It means that you will receive a massive number of irrelevant results. Make your alert more accurate and choose a suitable frequency.
While the Google Alerts setting up process, you can choose a type of content the service will search for on the Internet using those keywords entered by you. Available options are:
When you need to monitor specific types of content like video or books, you can choose corresponding options in the drop-down list. However, it’s hard to imagine situations where you may need to track only either blogs or news. Therefore, I would recommend you to select the Automatic options to receive all results based on your keyword.
With Google’s service, you can choose a language the tool will monitor content in and further deliver you. This makes sense when local companies in other non-English speaking countries may have the same brand name as yours. So you will receive links to content originally created in your preferred language.
With the Country option, you can make your configuration more precise and receive content published on websites focused on audiences in specific countries.
Configuring the How many option in a suitable way, you can set the quality of content you want to receive from Google Alerts. The service provides only two options: Only the best results and All results. The former option means that you will receive content only from high-quality websites. Unfortunately, you can’t configure which site Google should consider as high-quality ones. All results mean you will receive a message every time the tool identifies the match despite the quality of a particular online resource.
By default, Google Alerts sets your email address as a means of a delivery email address where the tool will send all alerts. Unfortunately, you can’t edit it or add another one. However, you can receive alerts in the form of an RSS feed. In total, you can set up to 1,000 different alerts per one account. You can remove alerts on the main Google Alerts page by clicking on the Remove icon in the form of a trash basket.
When setting up a Google alert, you can use the same operators as in the usual Google search. Properly leveraging suitable search operators, you can make your alerts more accurate thus reducing the number of irrelevant results.
In cases where you need to find posts or articles focused solely on your product, you can use the intitle operator. This will deliver you content containing your keyword in a title. This operator is useful when you need to explore your software reviews on the Internet.
This alert will bring you pages containing “grammarly” in their titles.
Using quotes for your keywords, you can set a precise order they appear in the content. This option is useful when you type in a few words instead of a single one. Without quotes, the service will look for content that contains your keywords in any order or any part of a particular post or article.
“best media monitoring software”
With these words in quotes, Google Alerts will search for content with the exact phrase in the text.
Minus and allintext
You can use the minus sign (-) to exclude content containing specific words from your alert.
allintext:marketing tech blog -automotive
With this query, you will receive links to webpages containing words all three words: “marketing”, “tech”, and “blog” while having no “automotive” in the text.
Using the site operator, you can search for certain pages on specific websites.
With this alert, you will receive messages with links to specific webpages on cyberpulse.info that contain the word “adtech”.
The OR operator will allow you to set an alert based on any of specified search rules rather than all rules altogether.
site:cyberpulse.info adtech OR serm
With this alert, you will receive messages with links to specific webpages on cyberpulse.info that contain either “adtech” or “serm”.
With the asterisk sign (*), you can tell Google Alerts that content may contain any word instead of *.
“best * management software”
With this alert, you will receive such results based on such keywords as “best reputation management software”, “best password management software”, etc.
Google Alerts helps business owners remain aware of what’s going on in the market, monitor competitors’ activity, and timely react to negative comments referred to their brand. Moreover, companies can estimate whether they do the right job and whether they move in the right direct direction. Using Google service, teams can understand what they should change in their business to improve customer loyalty.