What Are Google Alerts and How Do They Work?

Matthew is a Marketing Copywriter with a B.A. in Professional and Public Writing from Auburn University. He aims to learn a little more about the SEO world each day, and share as much of that knowledge with you as he can. When he's not striving to put out some fresh web content, he's usually fueling his Tolkien obsession or working on miscellaneous creative projects.

Online marketing consists of many elements, from social media to email. But the spearhead of all your marketing is Google. When you market through Google, you can reach an audience larger than virtually anywhere else.

Of course, marketing in Google isn’t always a cinch, and it can be a big help to have access to tools that make your Google marketing easier. Thankfully, Google offers plenty of those tools itself, with Google Alerts being among the most useful.

Google Alerts can cut down significantly on the time you have to spend researching and planning. But what are Google Alerts, and how can you use them to drive superior marketing results? We’ll explore both of those questions below, so read on for the answers.

Then consider partnering with WebFX’s team of over 300 digital marketing experts for our search engine optimization (SEO) services. Just call 888-601-5359 or contact us online to get started!

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What are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts is the name of a tool by Google that will send you notifications about where certain terms appear across the Internet.

For instance, you might want to keep tabs on the name of your business — which sites it appears on, who mentions it, what’s being said about it, and so on. If you set up Google Alerts for that term, Google will send you notifications whenever it finds a mention of the term somewhere online.

Google Alerts are extremely useful for your SEO. It can help you keep up with mentions of your business, your competitors, and key topics in your industry. Best of all, it’s free to use!

How to use Google Alerts

Thankfully, learning how to use Google Alerts is a simple process. To start out, simply go to google.com/alerts. From there, you can type a term into the search bar.

Below the search bar, Google Alerts will show recent results for the term. If you’re only trying to find mentions of the term this one time, you can scroll through those results and then leave.

 

 

But if you want to set up recurring alerts about the term in the future, pay attention to the space just below the search bar. You’ll see a button that says “Create Alert,” with a drop-down menu next to it labeled “Show Options.”

Click “Show Options” to set up how often you want alerts, which sources you want alerts from, and how many alerts you want. Once you’ve chosen the settings you want, you can click “Create Alert.”

After you hit “Create Alert,” that’s it! The alert is set up, and you can expect notifications to arrive in your inbox based on the settings you chose.

6 pro Google Alerts tips

As simple as Google Alerts are to use, there are still several ways you can improve your Google Alerts strategy. We’ll walk through some of the most important ones below.

Here are six Google Alerts tips to boost your SEO!

1. Track long-tail terms

One of the simplest Google Alerts tips you can implement is to use long-tail terms — that is, terms that are several words long. Try to avoid using one-word phrases, as those will often be too broad.

Imagine that you work as an accountant and decide to create alerts for the word “accounting.” Now think about how many sites the word “accountant” appears on. You would be absolutely flooded with alerts. But a longer keyword, like “Sealey Accounting Firm,” is much more specific and manageable.

2. Set up alerts based on your goals

When you start creating Google Alerts, don’t set up an alert for any and every industry term you can think of. If you do, your inbox will soon be overflowing with notifications. Instead, limit your alerts to a select few based on what your goals are.

What are you trying to achieve with Google Alerts? Do you want to look for where people mention your company? Or do you want to follow industry news? Depending on your intentions, you’ll want to aim for the terms that best serve those goals.

3. Look for unlinked mentions

When it comes time to figure out what terms you want to target, one of the most common and obvious choices is your brand name. Google Alerts is an excellent tool for keeping up with what people are saying about you online.

But as part of that strategy, you can keep an eye out for unlinked mentions — that is, places where a site mentions your business but doesn’t link to you. Whenever you see one of those mentions, you can reach out to the website and politely ask that they link to you in the mention.

Once you do that, you can start growing the number of inbound links on your site, which in turn will boost your SEO.

4. Monitor your competitors

Your business isn’t the only one you can monitor through Google Alerts. You can also track your competitors to see where they’re getting mentioned and what people are saying about them.

Creating alerts for your competitors can give you insights into their marketing strategies. By reading the pages where they get mentioned, you can find out where they’re earning backlinks and what traits people like or dislike about them.

When you see your competitors doing something smart or successful, you can then emulate or surpass it in your own marketing.

5. Set your alerts to arrive in bulk

When you set up an alert, pay attention to the settings you choose. Under “How often,” you’ll have the option of “As-it-happens,” “At most once a day,” and “At most once a week.” It’s probably a good idea not to choose “As-it-happens.”

If you have Google send you an alert any time it finds something, you’ll end up getting bombarded with notifications every five minutes. To avoid that, you’ll most likely want to choose one of the other options so your notifications will arrive all at once on a routine basis.

Scheduling your alerts for once a day or (better yet) once a week gives you a way to cut down on distractions from your other tasks and read through the alerts on a consistent schedule.

6. Keep up with the latest news and trends

Not all your alerts have to be about specific brand mentions. You can also create a Google Alerts strategy simply to keep up with the latest news and trends in your industry.

For example, if you work in metal fabrication, you could create an alert for “metal fabrication trends.” Alternatively, if there’s a more specific topic in your industry that you want to keep up with, you can create an alert for that.

By using alerts to track industry news, you can stay ahead of the game by optimizing your business the second a new industry change comes along.

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WebFX can help you hone your Google Alerts strategy

Now that you know how to use Google Alerts, you can start using it to boost your SEO campaigns. But Google Alerts is just one of many ways to improve your SEO. For even bigger and better results, you can partner with WebFX, the Internet marketing agency with over 20 years of experience.

With our professional SEO services, you’ll get help turning all the information you gain from Google Alerts into concrete marketing tactics that will boost your site traffic. You’ll even get a dedicated account representative to keep you up to date on everything we do for you.

To get started with us, just call 888-601-5359 or contact us online today!