Monitoring news items and other information as it appears on the Internet can be an effective way to conduct market research, to gain feedback about your products or services, and to simply keep yourself educated about the latest news in your niche area. While there are many different types of tools available for monitoring the Internet, some of these tools offer more power than is truly necessary to get the job done and may be difficult for the average user to use. Therefore, unless you have special circumstances that call for using a specialized monitoring tool, it is generally best to use Google Alerts to keep yourself abreast to what is taking place on the Internet.
There are many benefits to using Google Alerts. One of the most obvious benefits is the fact that it is free to use, but this isn’t all that the tool has to offer. The fact that Google Alerts allows you to target specific phrases also provides the following benefits:
- You can learn more about what other people are saying about the products or services your business provides
- You can more effectively research your competition in order to learn more about the products and services they are providing as well as the marketing strategies they are using
- You can conduct market research, which will allow you to more effectively develop marketing strategies as well as products and services to better meet the needs of your target audience
- You can learn more about the latest innovations within your business niche, which will help you remain an expert in the field so you can provide a better service to your customers
- You can locate blogs and other sources that discuss your topic, which you can then actively participate in so you can expand your professional network
Of course, in order to enjoy all of these benefits, you need to know how to use Google Alerts in an effective manner. First, you will need to know how to set up your alerts effectively.
When you sign up for Google Alerts, you will have the option to request an email delivery of relevant links “once a day,” “as it happens” or at a specific time of the day. It is important to note that, if you select “once a day,” you will receive your email notification approximately 24 hours after you sign up and you will continue to receive your notifications around the same time each day. If you select a specific time of day, you will receive a notification containing links to all of the relevant content that was posted prior to that specific time. Choosing “as it happens,” on the other hand, will result in an individual email being sent every time a piece of relevant content is posted.
In most cases, selecting the “once a day” option is the best choice, as choosing to receive email notifications “as it happens” can result in your email account getting bombarded by emails throughout the day. Depending upon the popularity of your topic, this could become quite annoying and problematic.
Of course, even if you do select the “once a day” option, your email notification may include numerous links to content created by unreliable sources. Therefore, you might want to limit your maximum number of links to 20. Although you can set your maximum to 50, choosing to receive 50 links per day may result in receiving links to less trusted sites. When you select 20, on the other hand, you will only receive results from the most trusted sites. If you feel as if you want to receive links to all of the sites, you might want to set up a separate account to receive the bulkier notifications. This way, you can take a closer look at those links once you have more time available.
Even if you are going to restrict your email notifications to only 20 links, it is still a good idea to set up an alias email account. This way, if you are out of the office for a few days, you don’t have to worry about emails from Google Alerts piling up in your inbox and cluttering it up while you’re away. You might also choose to set up several separate Google Alerts for different phrases. For example, if there are certain phrases you need to receive immediate notification for, you can set up one with that phrase and set it up for “as it happens.” For other topics that might be less time-sensitive, you might set the alerts of for “once a day.”