Promo Marketing blogger Michael Cornnell recently put up a great piece on Google Alerts, a web tool that more and more business owners (myself included) are finding rather useful. If you aren’t using it already, you might want to start, especially after you see all the ways it can pay off for your business.
Google Alerts are an easy, no cost way for you to put the impressive Google search engines to work combing the internet for a particular term or phrase. Some of the smart suggestions made by Cornnell and others as to how business owners might use Google Alerts include…
- See when your competitors’ actions, products or services are mentioned.
- Keep up with your own clients, suppliers or prospects.
- Track business news or broad business terms.
- Monitor links coming into your website.
- Check for those stealing your content.
- Stay updated on developments (BPA for example) that affect your business.
- Find potential customers using question/answer type sites.
- Learn what others are saying about you, your company, products or services.
Using this alert service saves you from having to research topics like these on your own, which certainly would take hours away from all the other things you need to be doing. But if you think you can just forget research altogether, know that keeping tabs on terms like your company name, your competitors or basic business terms lets you see what’s being said, spot emerging trends and react quickly.
Even better for business owners, you don’t have to spend lots of money — Google Alerts is a free service. In today’s marketing world, where the playing field is fast being leveled between small business and the big guys, it’s becoming clear that you don’t have to have a fat marketing budget (or staff) to succeed. A good example… Red Bull hasn’t spent fortunes on advertising like rivals Coke and Pepsi, yet it’s now a billion dollar brand.
Creating the alerts you need is easy. In just a few minutes you can set up an alert — choose how much of the net (results from News, Web, Blogs, Video and Groups) you want to search, how often you want alerts… even the number of alerts per email. When the emails arrive, you can quickly skim the content and click through to the things you find most intriguing. Managing alerts is easy too… you can change the terms you’re using, the frequency and sources of information — all you need is a Google account to get started.
I use this valuable online tool myself, and find it a real time saver when it comes to researching, staying current on a topic, watching for unauthorized use of my content, and staying up to date on clients and the happenings of my industry. I was happy to see many other small business owners finding Google Alerts as handy and useful a tool as I do.
Today going through the newspaper or skimming web headlines in the morning isn’t enough to have the information your business needs to succeed. You need to cover all the bases, and luckily Google Alerts is a free way to do just that.