There are many free programs, applications, and services offered on the web. These tools help us research information, organize data, and accomplish a number of tasks. One of the most prolific providers is Google. They offer GMail, Google Docs, Google+, and a ton more. One of my favorite tools they offer is Google Alerts.
Google Alerts is a very interesting application. On a very basic level, Google will alert you, in the form of an email, when it finds new content with your keyword. Since Google is the biggest search engine, you can be confident that when Google finds it, the world will know.
You may be asking yourself, How can Google Alerts help my business? Well, I’m glad you asked. Google Alerts is a great way of monitoring your business name, brand names, and product names. It also works great for the names of key personnel, such as the founder(s) and executive team. In marketing, you want to craft your company image and brand carefully. You not only want control of how your present your company but also how the world views your company (which will in turn, influence how you present your company).
Google Alerts keywords
How do you decide on your Google Alerts keywords? In his book, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, Darren Rowse discusses two types of alerts, Industry Keywords and Vanity.
Industry Keywords encompasses common words used in your business. If you are in the web design business, you may create a Google Alert with the keyword of SEO or WordPress. If you are a florist, you may go with roses, arrangements, or wedding bouquets as keywords. It depends on your business and where your focus lies.
When choosing Industry Keywords, do not forget to think of how your customer views your business and industry. For example, you may be a SEO expert but when potential clients search for that type of work, they use the keywords #1 on Google or rank first. As a business, it is often difficult to see things how your customers do. It is important not to focus too much on what you think is important and forget about the customer.
Vanity alerts are a horse of a different color. These may include your business name, the names of key personnel, and brand names. Take for instance the fictional company Acme (for all those like me who grew up watching Loony Tunes, you will be familiar with Wile E. Coyote’s major supplier). They might setup a keyword of Acme for their Google Alerts. If they have a brand name, such as Supermatic for example, they might use that too. Any keywords that apply to specific topics usually fall into the Vanity category.
You can even setup Google Alerts with your name as the keyword. I did that a while back just out of curiosity. This can be of a great benefit if you are trying to build a business or brand around your name or if you just want to be 1st on Google. Rarely do the links from Google Alerts reference me, but it is neat when it does.
Regardless of whether the alert is an Industry Keyword or a Vanity alert, Google Alerts treats them the same. Separating the two into categories only helps organize and describe them better. Something to remember: don’t set too many alerts. Google Alerts is a tool that can help your business but your focus must be on the business, not on the alerts.
Google Alerts have great potential in your business. They can keep you informed about your industry, you brand, and even the important people at your organization. You can even track your competition, looking for product and service gaps where you can move into. Google Alerts can be part of a guiding system that directs your business strategy.
How are you going to use Google Alerts in your business? Leave me a comment and let me know.
(photo by: bearvader)