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The Marketing Unleashed Podcast – How to use Google Alerts to keep tabs on your business and brand’s reputation online.

Joel: Hello everyone, and thanks for tuning in to another episode of the Marketing Unleashed Podcast. So in today’s episode we’ll be talking about Google Alerts and why you should be using Google Alerts and other news feed alerts to help monitor your industry and business. Now I have Nathan with me. Nathan, how you doing?

Nathan: Great, thanks, Joel.

Joel: Alright, so Google Alerts. I honestly think that Google Alerts is probably one of the most underrated tools out there for any business owner, any marketer or just anybody who wants to monitor what’s happening in their industry or their company, or any mentions of their company. Would you agree, disagree? What do you think?

Nathan: I have to say I use it all the time. I think it’s very handy. It’s one of those sort of fire and forget things. You set up the alerts and you let them run, and they just pop into your inbox whenever something happens. It’s great for tracking mentions of things. I find one of the handiest reasons to have them is if you track those alerts, people will mention your company, your brands in blog posts and then you can go directly to those blog posts and start talking about your product. That helps you gain linkbacks, which is a big part of SEO, and I use them for everything. Whenever we set up new projects I put a mention tracking on there just so that I can see when things start taking off. If we launch a new website for example, you can see things start to take off.

Nathan: You start seeing more and more mentions and see how they build. You see people talking about it, and I find it very handy just because people can be out there talking about your brand, and whether they’re saying something good or they’re saying something bad, both of those are an opportunity for you to have a conversation about your brand and possibly get a linkback or get somebody else out there to love your brand more by engaging with them, and you might not ever find out if you’re not tracking those mentions. So I think it’s a very important tool.

Joel: Right, yeah. Well, and I think it really helps also keep a finger on the pulse of what your competitors are doing as well. Everybody wants to know what the competition’s up to. So you set up the keyword alerts for your competitors or products that both you and your competitors sell, and it just helps you, it helps you monitor what’s going on out there. So you’re always on the lookout and you can be nimble with whatever your response is going to be with whatever they’re doing.

Nathan: Right. You can track sort of what direction your competitors are going as soon as they start releasing, say press releases or different information about sort of what they’re going to do in the industry say for this season. Then you can talk about how you can mitigate the effect that that might have on your search engine position, or how that’s going to affect maybe your brand rollout or something like that. So we use them as much to track competitors as we do to track the brands that we manage. So it’s a very important tool.

Nathan: I think one of the sort of underrated parts about tracking those alerts is tracking alerts on social media for negative comments. People, a lot of times the decision makers in the businesses that we talk to, they don’t want to have to deal with anything that’s negative. They don’t want negative comments on social media. They don’t want to see negative blog posts. They get very frustrated whenever someone says something negative. What I try to tell them is if you set up these alerts and you get to those comments right away, that’s an opportunity to convert an angry customer into someone who absolutely loves your brand and loves your customer service because you’re paying attention. As soon as they made a negative comment, you were out there, you commented, you said, “Let us take care of this.” And use those alerts to track all that so that you’re right on top of it. You don’t want a bad comment to sit out there for two or three weeks where someone’s just seething because they had a bad experience and no one ever replied.

Nathan: So you can use those alerts to track those kinds of negative responses. Get out there, turn the negative response into a positive one by showing them, we’re not just here to sell you the product, we’re here to support you afterwards. If there’s something wrong or it didn’t turn out the way you thought it should, here, this is how we’re going to help you fix it. Then other customers see that interaction and they maybe will look up and see, oh, here’s a negative response, but then they read through how you were on top of the situation and you corrected the issue, and that makes them feel even more confident in doing business with you because they know if there’s a problem that they’re going to get that kind of customer support that they expect.

Joel: Right. Exactly. I mean, let’s face it, we’re all human. Individually we all make mistakes. It’s about how we correct those mistakes and address them instead of shying away from them or hiding from them. So I think Google Alerts is a great way to find them, number one, and number two, just to address them and show that people or show customers and anybody else out there looking that you care, you’re trying, you’re working at bettering yourself or your products.

Joel: So if you’re a content developer, I also think that setting up Google Alerts for certain topics can help you because it’ll show you what others are writing about in the industry and it’ll help you come up with great topic ideas. If you’re responsible for creating social media posts, setting up the keywords and then you can either write your own stuff regarding articles that pop up in your Google Alerts, or you can take some of that information and recraft it and basically recycle it into your own, or recycle it on your own social media.

Nathan: Right, right. One of the things that I say along those same lines is if you’re a content creator, set up those alerts and then you can make sure that you’re getting credit for your content. So if someone goes out there and say says, maybe they read your blog post and then they’re like, “That’s great.” And then they lift it, and they use maybe a paragraph, or they use some different charts, or different graphics, or whatever that you use in yours and they don’t give you credit. Well, you can go back to those people and say, “Hey, that came out of my blog post.” If you set up these alerts, you can look for those exact phrases that you included in yours, and if you find them on somebody else’s web page, then you can go back to them and say, “Hey, I see that you lifted some stuff from my article. You need to give attribution and give me a linkback to my article instead of just lifting my content.”

Nathan: So it’s a way to kind of keep people honest. A lot of people lift content. I don’t mind if people quote, I mean that’s a linkback usually, as long as they give us attribution and credit for the work that we did. I don’t mind if people reuse the stuff that we’ve done, but the only way to really keep an eye on that is to set up these alerts and look for those phrases. That’s the only way that you’re going to know. You can’t search the whole internet yourself and try to find out if your content is out there. So it’s just an easy automated way to kind of keep people honest.

Joel: So you’re telling me that people steal things from the internet? Wow.

Nathan: Right. Yeah. Content theft is pretty bad. Like I said, a lot of people are honest. They find a good article, you’ve written some really good content and they want to include it. We find it all the time stuff that we produce, graphics too, they reuse charts and graphs, especially if you come up with some cool infographics and stuff like that, people will lift those off your websites. If you can set up these alerts and kind of keep an eye out for those sort of things, you just keep people honest and make sure they’re giving you credit.

Joel: Right. All right, so how easy is it to set up these alerts?

Nathan: Really, they’re fairly simple. I mean, if you just go on and they have an account, you can go through and set up alerts for any kind of keyword phrases. Something to keep in mind, a lot of people may not know, but if you just type in a couple of words or a phrase and you don’t include quotation marks, then it’s going to be a general match phrase. So if you say for example, used Saint Louis University, then you are going to get, you might get responses that include Saint Louis and university, or one or the other, but maybe not both. So if you use quotation marks around it, then that tells Google that I just want things that include this exact phrase, not just a part of the phrase. So that helps you kind of narrow things down, especially on the topic we just mentioned.

Nathan: So what I might do in that case when we’re setting up an alert for content that we created, is I might put an entire sentence and then just quote that exact sentence from our copy, and then you got a lot better chance of finding someone who’s lifting your copy if you’re using that exact quote, and a longer quote kind of gets you fewer messages, I guess. So if you don’t want your inbox to fill up with these alerts, then my advice would be to use specific quotes so that you don’t get just tons, and tons, and tons of responses.

Joel: Right. Well and you can also set it up where they send you daily reports, and so it’s not every time something’s mentioned.

Nathan: Yeah, right. Absolutely, yeah.

Joel: It just aggregates everything and sends it once a day, or I don’t even know. You might even be able to do it weekly. I’m not sure.

Nathan: Yeah, I think you could. There’s definitely options for how to deliver and how often you want to see that. Then they’ll also just get, if you’ve got a really broad category, they’ll kind of give you just the best results, things that are getting the most clicks or something like that. So if you’re just looking for say, topics in your industry, and you want to track what’s going on, then you may want to just see the best results instead of getting maybe hundreds of responses about digital marketing, you’ll just get the best five or 10 responses from that day.

Joel: Yep. All right. So what about … How can we use Google Alerts to help us with keyword finding for our own SEO needs?

Nathan: Well, what that helps you track is just what new data, what new content is coming into Google. So what will happen is say you’ve got a particular keyword group, like we’ll call it say digital marketing, and then somebody is going to post content every day on digital marketing. So what you could do is set up those keyword phrases on an alert, and then every day you’ll get an email, or however often you set it, you can get an email that tells you this is the new content that’s getting the most traction for that keyword group. So you can kind of look at it, see what’s getting a lot of traction, and if you’re looking for ideas on content, say you’ve got a client that’s wanting to rank higher for digital marketing, then you look at those and you say, “Well, these are the areas that digital marketing is really getting a lot of traction on. So when we go to create content this week for you, we’re going to use those topics because that seems to be a timely thing.” It’s sort of like saying, an old way that we used to do it is when something came up in the news that night, we’d write an article about it the next morning.

Nathan: So you kind of piggyback on the buzz for something that’s what people are already out there looking for, because they may have heard about it already, and so you’re sort of where the interest is. That’s how we use the alerts. We usually plug in several keywords, major keywords on a new project for those alerts, and then that way we can say, okay, we’re developing out new content for this project and here’s where everybody’s talking. So let’s find out what the popular topics are so we can make sure we’re going through those and making sure we include details about those topics in our content as well.

Joel: All right. All right. Do you have anything else to add before we recap?

Nathan: I would say there’s an interesting piece, most people may not deal with this. If you’re a professional, you might use this more than just your average everyday person, but one thing that you can do is if you use an RSS feed, you can set those Google Alerts to go to your RSS feed instead. So if you’re somebody like me who may have tons and tons of these alerts set up, you can feed them into the RSS feed instead of going into your email, and that keeps your email inbox from just getting flooded every day. I might have 50 alerts that are going to notify me every day and just to sift through all those emails, sometimes it can be a hassle. So it’s easier if I send them to an RSS feed and then I can just kind of go through that feed whenever I get a chance. It keeps your inbox a lot cleaner.

Joel: All right. Well hey, I think we all appreciate that advice.

Nathan: Yeah.

Joel: The inbox cluttering up is a big problem for most of us. All right, so just to recap here. Google Alerts, it’s great. Whenever you want to track competitors, whenever you want to make sure that you’re seeing what people are talking about your products or business, and so you can respond to them appropriately. It’s great for content development. You kind of see what the industry is talking about, what people are talking about, and then you can either recycle that information on your own social, media and blog, or you can take that and kind of use it for creating your own content, writing your own stuff. I guess you can also use it for help with SEO to see what people are talking about, what’s happening in the industry. Anything else, Nathan?

Nathan: I think that covers it.

Joel: All right, cool. All right, well hey, thanks for joining me and thanks for your time.

Nathan: All right, thank you.

Joel: And up next we’ll have another edition of Commercial Recall and this week’s Can’t Let It Go.