Google has many tools that are useful for small business owners, and one of my favorites is the google “alert”. Everyday, google delivers to my in-box several notices about topics I’ve asked to be “alerted” on. I scan the email and decide if I need to read the information they’ve sent or not. It’s one of the best ways to stay on top of online discussion about your company, hot topics in your field, what your competitors are doing, and much more.
It’s is very easy to set up an alert.
First, go to the Google Alerts page. You will see the “create a google alert” box on the right side of the page.
The first box is for you to enter your selected search terms. I recommend creating alerts for your company name, your industry, maybe your competition, related events or associations, your top clients, perhaps specific products you sell, and your name, as well as the name of other significant people in your organization (such as your sales rep or PR firm), and any other “terms” you choose.
In the next box, you select the type of alert you want. The choices are News, Web, Blogs, Comprehensive, Video and Groups. I usually choose comprehensive, but you may find that returns too many results and you really only want the “news”. Or perhaps you only want “videos” You can change, add or delete alert information at any time, so it’s fine to try one type of alert and switch if you are not getting the results you want.
In the third box, you select how often you wish to be alerted. The three options are “as it happens” which means anytime a spider finds a matching result, it sends you the link via email. The second option is once-a-day and the last is once-a-week. This gives you the freedom of staying on top of your alerts constantly, or just reviewing them daily or weekly.
In the last box, you choose how you want your alerts delivered. You can have it delivered via rss feed, or you can have them sent to your email address. I use the email option and find it works fine for me. If you already use google reader or igoogle, or have another rss feed reader, the feed option might be best for you.
Once you set your alerts, you’re good to go. Again, you can go back any time and edit, delete or even create new alerts. There are links to "create" another alert, "remove" this alert, and "manage" your alerts at the bottom of every notification email you get.
If you find yourself doing research on similar keywords or phrases often, try creating a google alert for it. Or, if you want to stay informed on certain topics, trends, hobbies, events, products, etc., google alerts can be a free, easy way to do so.
To learn more about online business success and the tools that can get you there, I recommend: Online Marketing Heroes: Interviews with 25 Successful Online Marketing Gurus and the book that I keep at my side these days: The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly