Google Alerts

You’re probably already very familiar with Google Alerts. Google lets you set up as many Alerts as you’d like on as many different topics as you’d like. You tell them what to track, what kinds of content to track (News, Blogs, Video, Groups, or Comprehensive ), how often you want it and they’ll create you a list every day and send it to you via email or RSS. Google Alerts have always been a super easy way to track brand mentions and listen in to conversations, but that’s not all they can be used for.

Here are five unique ways to use Google Alerts:

Track Keywords

By creating Alerts based around your most important keywords you’re able to find new information about topics you’ve told Google you’re interested in. Doing this can help give you food for blog entries, guest articles, newsletters and help you stay better informed overall. Keeping on top of what’s happening in your industry will help you make better decisions in your business and alert you to new products or strategies that can help you do things smarter. Using Google Alerts to track relevant information is great. The problem with tracking broad keywords is that Google often finds information that’s not as relevant as you’d like. To help cure this a bit, be sure to use advanced search operators to help you filter out bad results.

Track Yourself

You can also use Google Alerts to also track your brand name, the names of all of your employees, the name of your blog, your domain name, any product names, etc. Anything that is associated with your company and is unique enough that it can be tracked, should be tracked. Being able to quickly spot conversations taking place about you on the Web allows you to become part of them. Whether the mention is someone giving you props, asking a question about your product, or even someone taking shots at your brand, knowing about it means you can respond.

Track Competitors

Use Google Alerts to track mentions of your competitors, their products, and anything else you know about. The same way you’re tracking your own mentions, you should be tracking those of your competitors.

Track New Links

As a small business owner, it’s really important to pay attention to the links coming into your site. Sure, you want to find the conversations and the people talking about you, but links are important for lots of other reasons. They may help you identify new partnerships, new sites in your industry, places to guest post or promote content, or even the pages on your site that most connect with users.

Find Customers

Another interesting way to use Google Alerts is to get Google to track down potential customers for you. If you run a local bakery, set up a Google Alert for the phrase “who sells a, Yahoo Answers, Flickr Groups, Google Groups, and other question/answer-types sites. If people are out on the Web talking about a need that your business fills, Google can help you find it.

Are you using Google Alerts in any cool or exciting ways?

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