The Objective Blog

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A Tool You Must Use

April 4th, 2006 - by Brett Derricott - Salt Lake City, Utah

The larger the pile of information on the Internet, the harder it is to find what you want. If you need some information, chances are you Google to find it.

What if you’re interested in finding information over and over again, though? Are you going to run the same query on Google every day? Sounds a bit tedious. I have a better way to keep up on important information.

Let’s discuss an example. Let’s say you have a client who is very concerned about their image in the marketplace. That’s good. If your client is not concerned, you should drop them. They’ll be out of business soon. All of your clients should care what their customers think.

OK, so your client wants to keep tabs on what the world is saying. There are several companies who provide expensive services for this sort of thing. For the last year, however, I’ve been using an effective and free tool that I’m going to tell you about.

Google has a fantastic free service called Google Alerts. This service acts like a “scheduled search” for lack of a better phrase. You tell Google Alerts what you care about and Google Alerts will send you regularly scheduled emails with new information about that subject.

Back to your client who cares what the world is saying, you can setup a search on the client’s name (ABC Company, for example) and tell Google Alerts how often to send you notifications (once a week, for example).

Each week Google will send you (or your client) an email with links to anything new the search engine has discovered. If a blogger makes a comment about your client or your client’s product, a link to that blogger’s site will be sent to you via email as soon as Google discovers the blogger’s comment.

What other ways could you use Google Alerts to benefit your clients? Here are a couple more suggestions.

  1. Monitor your clients’ competitors by setting up an alert for each competitor. This is a great way to keep on top of press releases in which your clients’ competitors are named.
  2. Setup alerts for news relevant to your clients’ industries. If you had a client who manufactured widgets, you could setup an alert to monitor the widgets industry.

The key to making this work well is to create good search terms. Like normal searches on Google, the more specific your terms the more specific the results. Setting an alert for “dell laptop” will yield much more specific results than a vague phrase like “computer.”

Also, remember you can filter out results by using the minus sign. Let’s say you’re wanting to receive alerts about Apple. Setting your alert on the word “apple” might return results that aren’t relevant. A better query might be “apple -fruit -pie -fiona.” This will make sure you don’t get information sent to you about fruit apples, apple pies, or Fiona Apple, the musician.

The more you use Google Alerts, the more you’ll get a sense for what it can do for you and the better you’ll get at creating valuable, effective alerts.