Sunday, August 9, 2009

How and Why To Use Google Alerts

When you take off your writer's hat and put on the marketing hat, consider Google Alerts. They can be your best friend in both driving your marketing efforts and in showing you new avenues to explore.

One of the m0st difficult aspects of marketing is knowing how to reach people who might be interested in your content. Sure you can invest time in good search engine optimization, joining common interest groups on the Internet, and social networking with the right groups of people. In fact you should do all of these.

But how well is it working? Other than Google alerts, you should be monitoring your website/blog stats through a service like Google Analytics or to see where the referring traffic is coming from.

I will start with the "how" of using Google Alerts.

Go to and if you have a google account, login. If you do not have a Google account, then signup here. Once you are logged in and on the alerts page, you will see a form where you can create alerts that looks like this:

In the "Search terms:" blank, just fill in the words, phrases, or an exact website URL that you want to search for. Effectively, Alerts do the same thing that happens when you go to the Google search page and type in a search. One big difference is that if you do daily or weekly alerts, it will only include NEW results since the last time. You decide if daily or weekly works better for you. Then choose the email address to deliver to and you are done. You will begin getting alerts.

Also, just as with regular web searches, make sure you qualify your search as needed. If you want to search the exact phrase Till death do us part, you must use "Till death do us part" to do an exact phrase search.

So now that you know how, why use Google alerts?

1) Google Alerts can show you who is linking to your website/blog. Why do you care? I hope you can come up with lots of reasons, but here are a few. The person who added a link to your site did you a huge favor! They are directing traffic from their site to your site. It is good Internet manners to go to their site and post a "thank you" comment and perhaps put a link to their site on your site, if it is appropriate.

You also care because the more links there are to your site, the more your site will be optimized in the search results from Google. That is just a free bonus which requires no extra effort on your part.

2) Google Alerts can show you where you should be marketing. You can setup alerts for search phrases that people might use who would be interested in your subject matter. For example, setup a daily alert for "teenage vampire fiction" if you have a YA vampire book. Then look at all the links that come to you in your email, and click on every link. If the page seems to have users that might be interested in your fiction, leave a comment on the page if you can and include a link to your website.

You just directly marketed to your target audience. If you do this on five links a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks in the year, it will result in 1,820 unique links to your site from locations on the Internet that are part of your target market!

Seems like an easy choice to me. Hope this helps propel you from Internet anonymity to cyber-stardom.

Until next time, let's keep on writing.

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