In today’s day and age, it’s extremely important to know what is being said about you online. We use this free and ultra-simple method of monitoring our brand: Google Alerts. With this service, Google will send you an email as soon as it finds content on the web with your name in it; It’s simple and free. While it’s not perfect, Google Alerts works very well for most small businesses and we highly recommend it.
A real world example (and actually the reason I thought of writing this post).
This morning Google Alerts sent me an email notifying me that Google had located a new mention of my name online. Looking into the article mentioned, I actually appreciated that I was quoted on a topic that I am passionate about ( you can read the article about social media influencers here if you like :), but because it has no link to my site, nor was I actually contacted for an interview for this article, I wouldn’t have had any idea my company, or my name was being mentioned if it weren’t for the friendly Google Alert I received.
Believe it or not, the above mentioned scenario happens often. We’ve been mentioned and actually plugged by some pretty big media outlets without being interviewed at all. It happens as journalists dig through the internet via search engines, social media, press releases etc. to find topics to write about and supporting viewpoints. If you have a blog, you have a chance of being mentioned in the same way. Not that I mind – not one bit!
How you can easily setup a Google Alert for both your name and your brand in 5 minutes
First, head on over to the Google Alerts setup page, add your name in quotes to the search box on top and select your preferences (you will need a Google account to do this, so if prompted follow the steps to sign up first). What this does, is it allows Google to notify you as soon as they index a page that contains the search phrase or term you specified.
As you enter your search phrase at the top, you will notice that Google with show you a live example of the results. I highly recommend placing your search into quotes, as this will immediately clear up some of the noise for incorrect matches. As you can imagine, Google indexes billions of pages, so it’s important to try and narrow your search down to the most specific search possible or you will find yourself receiving false positive emails (and that’s annoying).
You can also use search operators (such as quotes or negatives) in combination with additional terms to help make your search even more specific. For instance, if I want to monitor Kyle’s online reputation, I would start by entering “Kyle Hart” into the search box and would be bombarded by results, as his name is so common. However, adding [ "Kyle Hart" pixsym ] (minus the brackets) into the search box shows me exactly what I want to see. You will want to spend a few minutes here tweaking your search if you are getting too many irrelevant results.
Once you’re happy with the search results preview, fill in the four Google Alert preferences:
- Type: Everything
- How Often: As-it-happens (if this sends too much email, choose once per day)
- Volume: All Results (this option will show you everything including what could be garbage and forum posts. If this sends y ou too many alerts, choose “only the best result” and Google will send only results that Google deems to have some value/quality.
- Deliver to: Your email (make sure it’s an email you check or it defeats the purpose)
In many cases, you will want to make more than one alert; especially if your business name contains the word “and” that could be listed as “&” or spelled out as “and” or similar scenarios where your name could be misspelled, etc. You can setup as many Google Alerts as you like (or can stand) and can always go back and edit your alerts later if any of them become too noisy by sending too many/too frequent results.
With that, you have an easy and free way to stay on top of what’s being said about you, your employees, your brand name and just about any other thing you can think to monitor. There are some things Google won’t catch, but the vast majority will be found and you will be quickly “alerted”.