Google Alerts is a fantastic tool for monitoring the vast amount of online content – you can set it up and then just leave it to work on your behalf.
First you need a Google Alert account but then it is part of your Google account – if you look under “More” and then “Even More” it comes under “Specialised Search” (look down the page).
Monitor a name, client, product or competitor
The first thing you will want to do is monitor your name, your company or client’s name, product, or possibly a branded term. Enter the query expression into the “search query” field, leave the result type set to “everything” and then fill out the rest of the form to create an alert.
You will notice that I have put My Product in quotes this means it will look for that expression.
Leave the rest as default and create the alert – so pretty easy to see who is mentioning your product online.
You can extent this to a whole sentence if you are trying to follow plagiarists or very specific content.
Want to be more precise?
You can get more sophisticated then there are a range of tricks available
- Use minus sign “-“ to ignore context. If you wish to ignore all comments related to “tennis” then “Murray –tennis” would do it
- Use minus sign “-“ to ignore websites. If you wish to ignore all comments related to “twitter” then Murray –site:www.twitter.com would do it.
- Look for word variations. If you want to search for variations then “Murray” OR “Murrey” would look for both spellings.
- You can also use AND expressions so to look for Andy Murray at the Olympics you could do the following “Andy Murray” AND “Olympic”
Watch for links
If you want to keep an eye on back links to your website then in the query box put link:http://www.myWebsite.com You can use this to monitor any link – clients, competitors etc.
Keeping it to a specific website
Because Google Alerts is basically running a Google search you can use it to watch just for content within specific websites. This is especially good for targeting competitor sites or specific news sites. In the search query box enter: “I’m looking for” site:http//www.yourMonitorSite.com.
This technique is also a great way to monitor listings sites – Ebay, Gumtree – if you are looking for specific items when they are posted you get emailed an alert.
Keeping an eye on news
Google has a News section on its main search you can use this in your alert if you want to monitor news specifically – so make sure that you have “news” selected from the “result type” dropdown menu. You can add a location to this query – but this can be a little un-reliable. To do this add word location: (the colon is important) and then the country you want to monitor eg. UK, India, Canada etc. I find Google tends to be a bit US biased on it News sites.
Google Alerts is a great tool that is much under used, you can have up to 1000 alerts a one time so it should keep you busy.