What is “Google Alerts”?
Google Alerts is the name of one of the popular free tools offered by Google – it sends updates to your e-mail or RSS reader with the latest relevant Google results, based on your query or topic. It’s a simple and straightforward service, which sorts the results from the first 20 pages of a Google search by relevant keywords and then sends you an alert. So basically it can automate a search for phrases, instead of you having to do it every day. But this tool is not only a timesaving opportunity – you can also use it for many other purposes, like:
- Reputation management – by setting your company name / brand / website (even with the misspellings), you can monitor every mention of yourself on the web. You’ll know whenever someone mentions you in a blog or a forum or whenever someone shares a link to your website. You can write replies to these mentions, so that, for example, you can thank someone for a positive review of your product or explain and solve a problem that people are having with it. And this way you can also monitor how fast your own publications (blog posts, PRs, etc.) are indexed by Google.
- SEO – set up your Google Alerts account for the keywords that you use to optimize your website, and search for them in blogs. Whenever you receive an alert, you can visit the blog and leave a comment on the article along with a link to your website.
- Keep an eye on your competition – you can set up alerts for your competitor’s name / brand / website and monitor what they’re doing and what other people are saying about them.
- Traffic sources – if you set up “free traffic” in your Google Alerts, you’ll get all the new traffic strategies sent straight to your e-mail account.
In some way, all of the above-mentioned tips can help you to find new opportunities for your business in terms of sales or markets. Building and maintaining the reputation of your business is crucial, as is your website SEO and monitoring of the competition. But in this post we’re going to focus particularly on the “finding opportunities for new sales” part – let’s see how you can use Google Alerts to find potential customers and potential markets. Google Alerts can help you monitor specific segments of your market or to research areas that you would like to be involved with in the future. For those of you who haven’t used this tool yet, we’ll start with the basic steps.
How do you set Google Alerts?
1. Go to the Google Alerts web page.
2. Fill in the requested fields:
- Search terms – enter the words that you want to keep an eye on.
- Result type – here you have to select whether you want to get an alert whenever your search keywords appear anywhere on the web (“everything”) or only when they appear in blogs, news, etc.
- How often – you select the frequency of the alerts. I recommend selecting “once a week” – if you receive them “as-it-happens” or “every day”, your e-mail will be filled with alerts, which at some point will start looking like spam. If you’re looking for really specialized information, you can select “once-a-day”.
- How many – you can select “All results” or “Only the best results”, where Google will try to filter the results so that they are relevant to your query and are high quality. It’s better to use the “All results” option, because this way you can monitor your keywords all around the web and be sure you won’t miss anything.
- Your e-mail – enter the e-mail address where you want to receive the alerts. If you would like alerts to be delivered to an RSS feed, you have to log in to your Google account and choose the “feed” option.
3. Click the Create Alert button and it’s done – start exploring!
How do you use Google Alerts to find market opportunities?
You should be aware that you’ll receive the alerts for your keywords whenever Google finds a page, not when the page is live. This means you won’t be notified immediately – and when we’re talking about sales opportunities, sometimes you’ll miss the moment. But only sometimes. And missing the opportunity to use Google alerts for finding new opportunities is worse than this.
Here are some tips for finding new market opportunities with Google Alerts:
- Ask questions
If you know what your customers are looking for, you can use this to find potential customers. Ask the questions they would ask: set up an alert with those questions and you’ll find the people that are looking for the answers – on sites like Quora, Yahoo Answers, and other forums, blog posts, etc. When you receive the alerts, visit the website and answer the question with an offer of your product / service. It’s a really easy way to attract new customers.
For example, if you’re selling bio cosmetics, you can search for “What is the best bio cosmetic brand?” or “Would you recommend using bio cosmetics?” This way, you can find individuals interested in using bio cosmetics and contact them directly to offer them your products. Try to set up several variations of questions, so that you can capture as many potential leads as possible.
- Solve problems
Don’t miss out questions asked about solving problems – problems that your products can help with. If you’re a hotel owner and your hotel accepts guests with pets, then search for “I have a dog, where should I stay?”, “No hotel wants my cat” and any variations of this problem that you can think of.
- Gather opinions
There is a little-known but great to use search operator in Google – it’s *. *, and in Google search this represents “any word”. If you’re selling coffee and you want to know which coffee brand is judged to be the best or the worst, just type “* is the best / worst coffee brand” in Google Alerts. This way you’ll gather opinions from the web and you can contact the people that have written these opinions. If the opinions are about your brand, you can thank them, try to make them your loyal customers or try to understand why they don’t like your coffee. If someone is not happy with another brand, you can easily turn them into one of your own customers.
With Google Alerts you can also find out when someone is linking to your website – in most cases this means that someone has some interest in you and you can use the link to find a potential customer or partner. You can also set Google Alerts to find new businesses in your field if you work in the B2B market.
So go ahead, use Google Alerts to find new opportunities, and share your experience with us – maybe you’ll find some other ways to use this free tool.