Home » Blog » Office Hours » How Can You Set Up Google Alerts Effectively?
Google Alerts can be a valuable tool to know if someone has mentioned you or your client, and this is how you should set it up.
David: So, Tricia, you had asked a question about Google Alerts.
Tricia: Yes, Google Alerts. So, what happened was I was mentioned online on BrightLocal for the Year in Local Search 2022, but I didn’t know I was mentioned. I actually had someone else in the SEO field (we were emailing about something else) ask, did you realize you were mentioned online on BrightLocal? And I was like, no. And then I’m thinking, I need to set alerts. Why do I not have a Google Alert set to email me when I’m mentioned, or my business is mentioned, or other things online? And I went and looked, and I do have it set up. I thought I had gotten some in the past. So, my question is, did I do something wrong? Or is it just sometimes it’s not always fully accurate?
David: Okay. This is a good question. So, I always love setting up Google Alerts for several reasons. One is brand reputation management. Just in case someone says something bad about you, and you’re ahead of it. But also, it’s a great link-building tactic because if they’re going to mention you, why wouldn’t they want to link to you, or at least for their users to link to you? So, I’m glad you’re doing it. There are several settings that might be possible within Google Alerts.
David: So, let me show you on my screen how Google Alerts works. Let me just set it up. Okay. So, if we’re on the Google Alert site, which is just Google.com/alerts. First of all, Google knows it all. Right? It knows my email address and my name, and it’s already suggesting to me a Google Alert. But notice something here. First of all, they put it in quotation marks. Right? This is a search operator to say it has to include both these words and in this order. So, if you just put Tricia Clements in there, you might get Tricia, and there also might be someone named Clements mentioned, too, right?
Tricia: Yeah. I think there’s a chiropractor somewhere, or I can’t remember, but there are occasionally a few other Tricias.
David: Dr. Clemens and his partner, Tricia. Right. You know, that’s totally different. So, the quotation marks help. The point is number one, check the query. One of the things I recommend you do is just simply go to Google first and just dink around with the search query. So, if we’re going to do me, I’m just going to play around with potential things. This is not really finding…
Tricia: I didn’t realize you were an actor.
David: I’m a lot of things.
Tricia: A doctor.
David: I’m a lot of things. Yeah. My mother wishes. I am not a doctor. I work for the SEC as well. So, one of the first things in finding your Google Alert is to just modify your query until you finally get you. That way, the results are really you. So, I’m even putting it in quotation marks because David Zimmerman is a very common name.
Tricia: I didn’t realize that.
David: So, I might modify it with the word marketer.
Tricia: Oh. Okay.
Tricia: Okay. So, you would just leave a space, and obviously, marketer is not going to be in quotes. Okay.
David: So, Look at here, it’s my LinkedIn profile, MarketingProfs, SpeakerHub, books I wrote on Amazon… So, this is my email address and phone number. Hey, look, it’s got some right. Oh, and boy, this is an old art website I used to write for. Yep. This is me.
David: So, then what I’d want to do is go to… I think you can get to it through here. Let’s see. I just want to copy that query.
David: I’m just having I’m having internet problems. Paste the query, and now, it will resemble the search results. So now, I know that the Google Alert is closer to me because, again, I’m not just interested in anybody named that. I’m interested in me.
Tricia: Yeah. You’re interested in you.
David: Yes, because I’m a narcissist. Okay, so then, I can confirm because Google’s going to show me the search results underneath this to say, yes, those are the ones I want. See, even there, it’s not exactly right.
David: But here’s another thing that’s worth checking, the settings. Depending on how popular you are or if your client…
Tricia: I’m so popular, I probably need it as it happens.
David: Right. Right. I know you are. For me, it’s once a week. And then, you can set the sources. I just keep everything. But if you had a particular interest, you could limit your region. Here’s the real trick, only the best results is the default because this is a free tool, and Google doesn’t want to do it every time. But I like to change it to all results.
David: And then you can deliver it to an email address…
Tricia: Yeah, I have my email address in there.
David: …or an RSS feed because you’re old school like me. And then once you create the alert… It’s still catching up. But that will be emailed to me, as I mentioned.
David: So, make sure that the query you’re entering is a query that does match you.
David: Now, the same is true for clients, and this is really where this becomes really powerful. Clients don’t always tell you about stuff that’s going on. Clients often don’t know what’s going on about them.
Tricia: Yeah. I had one sent for a claim, and they got mentioned in the local newspaper. And then I reached out to him, and he said, oh, yeah, we were interviewed. I’m like, why didn’t you tell me this? But yeah, definitely.
David: Now, in the documentation, I even recommend some specific queries for reputation management.
Tricia: That’s in Curious Ants?
David: Yep. It’s under the branded link-building process. So, check those, too. And you might want to add some of those as Google Alerts for you or your clients.
Tricia: Yes. Okay. I definitely do.
David: Then there’s another service besides Google Alerts that actually gets different results. Sometimes it finds stuff that Google doesn’t. Also, all this you had asked, why didn’t your alert pick it up? And frankly, the answer is that sometimes Google doesn’t pick it up.
Tricia: Yeah. That was kind of what I thought. Possibly so.
David: Well, yeah. And you think it’s a credible website… Sometimes it’s like, I have an alert set, Youssef has an alert set, sometimes my clients have alerts set because I’ve asked them to do it, too, and it’s so funny. Youssef will get it first, I’ll get it second, and the client will get it third or vice versa. Or sometimes, it’s random.
David: So, however Google is processing it, it’s not linearly. And sometimes he’ll get ones that I don’t, and vice versa and all kinds of stuff. So, set them up, check them, and don’t rely on them, but don’t worry, too. One of the things Google Alerts will pick up on my clients’ sites often is when they publish a new blog post, a Google Alert will say, we saw this client mentioned. Well, it’s mentioned on their own website, but not all my clients’ websites give Google Alerts every time they publish something.
Tricia: Okay. Yeah.
David: So, don’t use it as a barometer to judge the quality of the things you receive. But it’s still better to get some information than not. I think in the process I mentioned another tool that you can use. But also, I should warn you that there is such a thing, of course there is, as Google Alert spam. Some people have figured out how to trigger Google Alerts and will get you to come to their website even though you’re not mentioned on that site. It’s called spoofing.
David: And so, just know that you should have your virus scanner going. It should almost be part of the SEO process to make sure you have a virus scanner on your computer before you do link building.
David: Right? Make sure they’re not going to load a Trojan on your site or on your computer just because you went to their site.
David: Because you followed their Google Alert spam to get to their site. So, what I would do is monkey around. You could almost monkey around until you found the right local thing.
Tricia: Yeah, well, so one thing I did, and I have a question about this. So, I put Tricia Clements in quotes, and then I just put local SEO. Now, this Alert Preview says there are no certain recent results for your search query below. Oh. Below are the ones that match it. And these are the ones that I would want to find. There’s a search engine roundtable, Local Marketing Institute… So that’s good. Apple podcast. Oh, okay, this is when I was on that local marketing show. I got 45 minutes’ notice to be a guest host. So okay, good. Okay, but now BrightLocal did not show up. Very interesting.
David: So, the thing might be… Oh, so your name is mentioned there; I’m looking at the article right now. The thing is, you can’t use Google Alerts as a barometer for quality. BrightLocal is a quality site, a quality company.
Tricia: Okay, let me see some that I might try. This is the next one I was going to try and see what this comes up with. Let me see. So, I’m doing Tricia Clements, Google Business Profile. And then I think I also want to do Tricia Clements, Google My Business, since that’s what a majority of people still call it. Search Engine Roundtable. Yeah, these are some of the same small… Oh, wait, here is my BrightLlocal Agency Directory. But that’s not the one that we’re looking for.
David: I guess the best piece of advice is before you enter a search query into Google Alerts is to test it on Google. To me, as far as this is a link-building practice, one of the values is making sure you’re not getting false positives. Because then you will blow them off and not pay attention to the alerts.
David: And that’s almost worse. Because then, you feel like you’re doing something, but you’re really not doing something. Right? So, we know Rusty is not going to give you a link because that’s his rule. That’s okay. It’s still nice to know you got mentioned, right?
Tricia: Yeah. Definitely. Okay. Perfect. Yeah. I’m going to work on setting up a couple of different Google Alerts.
David: Great. Good question. I’m glad you’re doing this.
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