Have you ever asked yourself how come your competition seems to be everywhere, linking to awesome content, commenting on posts, and being ahead when it comes to the trending topics in your niche?
Sometimes it makes you wonder whether the blogger has a team dedicated to searching for these promotion opportunities on the Internet.
Trying to keep up with what your competition is doing can be exhausting when you see how “connected” they seem to be.
Well, it may come as a surprise, but most successful bloggers use Google Alerts to keep ahead of their competition.
Google Alerts is a free tool that you can use to monitor brand, product, and service mentions; build links; keep an eye on industry trends, and a lot more.
Taking a few minutes to understand what Google Alerts are, how they can help you get ahead of your competitors in your niche and how to set them up will pay dividends in the long run.
Let us look at a step-by-step process that you can use to set up and use Google Alerts and enlarge your footprint in your industry.
How to Set up Google Alerts for Passive SEO and Marketing
What are Google Alerts?
Google Alerts are notifications sent by Google about specific search terms that people use on the Internet.
When you set up a Google Alert about a specific search query, you will get notifications when the alert is used by people or bloggers around the Internet.
This way, you can keep up with trends, find blogs that have content rete to the search query and comment on it, etc.
So, if you had thought that successful competitors have a team f people crawling the web for search queries, then you are not too far off. The team employed is Google, which does all the searching on your behalf.
Google Alerts can be sent by email or through an RSS feed reader.
Before you can learn how to set up Google Alerts, you need to understand why they are necessary when you want to grow your blog.
Why Do You Need Google Alerts?
Google Alerts allows you to monitor keywords that you use in your industry and need to follow. You can configure the settings so you are not flooded with results.
You only need a free Google Account, which is easy to set up, and it is completely free; this is great news for those of you who are just starting out writing a blog.
Google Alerts also serves you with information about your niche. You can keep ahead in the latest trends, find blogpost ideas and do a lot more.
There is a huge treasure trove of benefits that you will reap when you use Google Alerts, but before we go deeper, let us see how you can set up Google alerts.
How to Set Up Google Alerts?
# 1: Set up the Google Alert
Start off by signing into your Google Account. If you do not have one, create it first.
Next, go to the Google Alerts section.
Now go on and click on the “Create Alert” button, and your alert will be created.
#2: Edit the Google Alert
Click on the pencil icon next to the alert so you can change the default settings.
Click on the “Show Options” link to fine-tune the alert.
You will be presented with a list of options that determine
A) When you will receive the Google Alert:
- As it happens
- At most once a day
- At most once a week
B) Sources for your alerts
NOTE: You cannot use Google Alerts to monitor the use of keywords on social media, so it would be best to set up alerts to monitor social media using tools such as BuzzSumo.
- You will get a wide range of languages
- You will select the regions to monitor
E) How many
- Only the best results
- All results
F) Deliver to
- Your email address
- Your RSS feed
#3: Create other Google Alerts
You can set up more than one Google Alert depending on the keywords you want to monitor. All these alerts will be shown on your Google Alerts home page.
Simply repeat the above 2 steps for each of the alerts.
There are several important keywords that you might want to keep an eye on, and these are:
- Your name
- The name of your brand or blog
- Your competition and their brand
- The name of your product
- The name of your service
- Key topics that you would like to write about, or those you have already covered in your blog
Once you have set your Google Alerts, you will receive regular notifications in your email inbox or RSS feed reader depending on the delivery option that you chose.
When you input a term that has a lot of searches, then you will get a long list of results.
This list will be divided into sections such as Web, Finance, News, etc.
The alerts will have a title and a short excerpt that will allow you to see what is the content around the mention of the keyword.
Clicking on the title will allow you to view the content of the alert.
How to Optimize Google Alerts for Better Results?
Setting up Google Alerts using the default options will give you a lot of information that can be helpful to your blog. However, you may also get a flood of information that you do not need.
This is why you should optimize your Google Alert to get the best and most useful results.
Choose the “as-it-happens” option if you want real-time monitoring of your desired keywords: For example, if you want to keep an eye out on mentions of your products and services, this option will help you respond quickly to whatever that person was looking for.
This is also a great option to use when you want to receive instant news on what is going on in your niche.
Getting instant updates on new trends allows you to write about them before your competition does.
This will show that you are an active provider of relevant information and people will prefer to visit your blog as compared to your competition.
Choose “all results” instead of “best results” for keywords that don’t have a lot of results: Things like your personal name or brand name might not get a lot of mentions.
Use “all results” so you get notifications whenever your name is used on the Internet.
This is also great for blogs that are just starting out and do not have a huge Internet footprint. Find out where your blog gets mentioned and use that as a springboard for widening the reach for your blog.
Choose “best results” for keywords that are being used a lot: This will help you reduce the number of results that you get for popular queries.
Click the “Filter as irrelevant” link if you get an alert that was not relevant to you: This way, Google knows which types of alerts you don’t want to receive in the future.
Create a Gmail filter for your results: This allows you to easily see them in one place, or you can forward them to another member of your team.
Include misspellings of keywords in your alerts: It is quite common for people to misspell names when searching on Google. Add such misspelled names to your alert.
Use quotation marks to narrow down the alert results: If you set an alert for Michael Jackson, you may get results for all mentions of Michael and another list for mentions of the word Jackson. Put the term in quotes so as to get accurate results; “Michael Jackson”.
Get creative and combine keywords: When you use Google for a search, there are commands that you use when you want to narrow down the results you get.
One of these is using the speech marks which allows you to find specific phrases and combine them with other keywords.
For example, you can type in:
- “Social media marketing” ideas
- “Social media marketing” trends
When you use these speech marks in setting up your alerts, you will get results that match the speech marks, plus the words that you have included.
There are several ways in which you can get creative with the keywords you use to set up your Google Alerts.
Add as many alerts as you can handle: Google Alerts lets you set up a maximum number of 1,000 alerts. This allows you to set up as many alerts as possible so you have a wide range of results to choose from.
Don’t use generic keywords: In as much as you can set up a maximum of 1,000 alerts, it does not mean that you use generic keywords when setting up your alerts.
You obviously want to get as much information about the things that happen in your niche and you may get tempted to use generic keywords.
Using generic keywords will bring in a flood of notifications, which will be useless to you.
When you have 5,000 notifications flooding into your inbox, you will probably delete them without even reading them.
Be careful with the use of generic keywords within your industry.
To clarify this point, let’s look at an example of a blogger within the sailing fashion industry.
If the blogger adds a keyword like “shoes”, the notifications will be too much; perhaps it would be better to use the keyword, “sailing shoes’, which will effectively reduce the number of results sent by email
Tweak your alerts depending on the results you get: Sometimes using “best results” will give you very few results. You can change this to “all results” to get more information.
You should approach alert tweaking with a lot of care since you don’t want to lose out on important information about the happenings in your niche.
Carefully choose the sources of your alerts, especially when using popular keywords: You may opt to use “books” if you are writing an academic paper, or “news” if you want to write about the latest newsworthy trends in your industry.
There is no proper way to use Google Alerts. It is up to you to tweak the alerts so you get information pertinent to your industry.
At times the results may overwhelm you, and all you have to do is tweak them so you get less but for targeted results for your blogging purposes.
How Can You Use Google Alerts to Grow Your Blog?
As mentioned earlier, there are various ways in which your blog can benefit from using Google Alerts.
Here are some of the ways that you can use Google Alerts to grow your blog, by driving traffic to your blog and finding ways in which to collaborate with other bloggers.
When you use Google Alerts, you will be able to stay informed about the latest news and trends in your niche.
For example, say you set up Google Alert for “Men’s Fashion” you will be able to keep up with the news and trends concerning Men’s Fashion.
This will help you create reviews and affiliate posts that drive people to buy the latest fashionable items in that niche, thereby driving up your traffic and sales.
Improve linking opportunities
There are times when other bloggers may mention you or your blog without creating a link back to your blog.
You then have the opportunity to email the blog owner, and very charmingly ask if he or she would link back to your blog.
Since they have mentioned you, it will be easy for them to create a backlink to your blog and possibly help you get more traffic.
Find guest post prospects
If you have a competitor who seems to be all over the Internet, creating valuable guest posts, then you should create a Google Alert for his or her name.
This way, when the blogger creates a guest post and adds a bio, you get an alert.
Check out which sites the blogger is guest posting and try to get an opportunity to post on the same blogs too.
It may seem to be a bit sneaky, but it will show you which blogs are accepting suet post writers from your niche, giving you a chance to earn some extra cash.
Become an authority in your niche
If someone writes a blog, detailing a problem they are having in your niche, then you can go to the comments section and provide the answer.
This answer will be seen by many people, who are probably having the same challenge. When you answer correctly, all these people will become visitors to your blog.
Here is another scenario:
Through the Google Alerts, you realize that there is one particular question that people are asking, several times over.
You could then create an informative blog that will give them the answer they want and prove that you are an authority writer in your field.
Setting up Google alerts to watch for such questions will help you create targeted blog posts that will increase your traffic considerably.
Keep an eye on your competition
Google Alerts can be used to monitor how your competition is doing.
What are people saying about them? Is it great or terrible?
What are they missing out on when they write their blogs?
Keeping an eye on what your competition is doing is a great way of identifying what areas they are lacking and capitalizing on them.
Intellectual Property Protection
Yes, you have worked hard to create your blog posts and digital products.
You have done some research, combined it with your intrinsic knowledge, and come up with a brand that is uniquely yours.
Then someone steals that information and posts it elsewhere.
That is not a good thing, right?
When you create Google Alerts covering the keywords, topics, and your brand, you can find out who is stealing your intellectual property.
You may then take action to stop this kind of piracy.
Create Collaboration opportunities
Some bloggers would like to share links with you, or even host a podcast together.
With Google Alerts, you can find bloggers who are working in the same niche as you are.
If you both have a medium number of people visiting your blogs, then you can combine this number by creating content other and using it to cross-promote each other.
Collaboration can sometimes have a positive effect on your blogs as people see you coming together to give them a better solution to their needs and problems.
Find out where you go wrong
Oh yes! You can use Google Alerts to find out if there are issues that create a negative atmosphere around your blog.
This is the kind of information that may be painful to read, but it helps you enormously when you have to address what is wrong with your blog.
You can set up creative alerts such as:
- “Your blog name” + hate
- “Your blog name” + broken
- “Your blog name” + worst
Think of all the negative mentions that people make on the internet and then add those alerts to your list.
This way, you can keep an eye on any negative mentions about your blog or products and then rectify them.
As you can see, Google Alerts is a powerful tool that can help you grow your blog in ways that you could not on your own.
You will be able to find opportunities to promote your blog and new ways in which you can weigh in on important issues within your niche and prove that you are a blogger that people should follow.
Are Google Alerts Enough?
From this article, you can see that Google Alerts are simple to set up, and they can be instrumental in growing your blog. The question is:
Are they enough?
Google Alerts are powerful when it comes to listening in on what is going on in your niche, but they do not cover every aspect.
Google alerts may miss some data: Some sources cannot be read by Google, and they will not be listed in the results of your alerts.
Google Alerts don’t cover social media: As we mentioned earlier, Google Alerts will not give you results coming in from social media.
You need to use another tool to listen in on what is happening on social media that concerns your niche.
Statistics show that 66% of Americans use Facebook. You need to listen in on what they are talking about.
Combining these social media listening tools with Google alerts ensures that you get results from a wider range of credible sources, and hence grow your blog faster and effectively.
What Are You Going To Do Now?
Are you ready to start using Google Alerts to grow your blog?
It takes just a few minutes to create a Google Alert, so why not head over to the Google Alerts page and create your first alert?
Type in your name, keywords that you want to use, and you will have created your first alerts.
You can start off simple and then tweak your alerts as time goes by and you start seeing ways in which you can use Google Alerts to improve the performance of your blog.
NOTE: it is a good idea to create a strategy or plan on how you will be using Google Alerts. When you are creating your content strategy, use google alerts to monitor your content and also get trending ideas for future content.
You have to remember the goals of creating the alerts so including them in the plan is advised.
Keep using the alerts to get blogpost ideas, find blogs where you can post a guest post, answer common questions in your niche, observe your competitors, and a lot more.