Google Alerts For Small Biz

Before undertaking any marketing or product creation activity, be sure to setup some free Google Alerts on your business. You may be shocked at what you can discover.

Google Alerts is a free tool provided by Google. The Google search engine is constantly indexing new content all over the web, including content that is directly about you, your company, your name, your competition, your industry, etc. Essentially, this service alerts you by email when any of your chosen key words or phrases appear in their gigantic index of fresh content on the web.

Google Alerts makes fast work of;

– monitoring your brand

– gauging the success of your current marketing efforts

– researching the visibility of key figures/companies in your industry

– watching out for new trends in your market

– being the first to know of major news in a specific area (and then being the first one to re-break that  to your own sub-market!)

Note that Alerts are not a report that people are searching for you – it just means that you’ve been indexed. When people search for those same words and phrases in the Google search engine, only the content that has been indexed will appear in the search results. If you have a website to promote, being indexed is a very good thing – it means your content is easily available to those searching for you.

Google Alerts is selective, in that it will only alert you of fresh content, or rather, content that has recently come to the attention of the index. The more often you update your content, the more you will appear in Google Alerts for the key words and phrases contained in your content. Google’s index prioritizes content with certain characteristics, such as video over text content, and content from sources that are reliably updated on a regular basis. This is part of what forms the mystery of “who gets ranked highest” on Google search results. You can also choose to only find content from blogs, news, video, or other options. (I always choose ‘comprehensive’ so I hear about everything.)

Let’s say that you’ve already performed a good keyword exercise for your business, so you know what words and phrases you want to be associated with. By entering of them into Google as an Alert, you will be notified by email when any fresh content comes up with those words.

I’d also be sure to add;

– your company name,

– your very own name,

– the city or location of your business,

– the names of your competition,

– any applicable industry terms, even if they’re not in your list of marketing keywords because they’re considered “buzzwords” or “insider talk”

Small business can especially benefit from Alerts, because it can be used to filter quite a bit of content very quickly, leaving only local or other highly-specific content available for you.

Before developing any sort of product, try entering some keywords related to the project into Alerts, as part of your product and market research. Monitor it for a couple of weeks and see what comes up. Witness what people are talking about, what their needs are in your niche, and if you have any competition. Is this a busy market? Are people really talking about your niche? Are they using alternate language to talk about you and your niche? Do you need to shift your focus to meet their needs?

Another important discrimination to make is where the conversations are already happening. We all know that rather than trying to get customers to come to us, we should find where the customers already are, and go to them in their own backyard. Alerts can help significantly with this, as it will make a distinction between Twitter entries, FaceBook comments or groups, bloggers talking about the product, news outlets, or other locations. Is one happening more often than another? If there are plenty of bloggers talking about your niche, but no news outlets, then publicize your product by approaching bloggers rather than approaching traditional media. If people are tweeting about your niche, but nothing’s happening elsewhere, don’t bother to write articles – get tweeting!

Overall, Google Alerts is more than just about knowing who’s talking about you; it’s also about knowing what they’re saying, and where, so that you can jump in and join the conversation.

Want to witness the power of this first hand? Try setting up an Alert for “Justin Bieber” – you’ll soon see what I’m talking about, whether you want to know about teen pop stars, or not!

Peggy Richardson writes about marketing and being a Solopreneur at Her latest, "eBook Jumpstart - 19 Things to do on Amazon to Launch your Kindle eBook" , is out this winter.