Psst! Did You Hear…? Why Small Business Owners Need To Use Google Alerts.

How many times have you heard this “Did you hear about (Insert Small Business Name here)?” As a small business owner, it’s important to me to listen to what is being said in the social sphere about my business and about me. When I want to eavesdrop on the web, I use Google Alerts.

With Google Alerts you can monitor anything on the Web.

Listen to what is being said about your product or service, learn more about your competitors and what they are doing, or even learn what others are saying about you!

This free service is like putting a “be on the look-out” (BOLO) bulletin out on the web for specific words or phrases. Fill in a few keywords, set your notification rate, and Google Alert emails will be delivered to your inbox when Google finds information that matches the search terms you’ve created.

How Does It Work?

Alerts can be created for any combination of words and phrases. The more precise your query, the more relevant your alerts will be. What’s really cool about creating alerts is that query results appear on the screen as you begin to enter the alert. If the results are not what you’re looking for retype the alert and fine tune the results.

Use quotes to isolate a word in your query. And on the flip side, you can use negative filters to eliminate any data that isn’t relevant.

Google Alerts provides options for how frequently you receive notifications. Choose the alert rate that makes sense for the query. “How often” field from “once a day” to “as-it-happens”

Here are some of my favorite ways to use Google Alerts and hope some of them will help you as well.

1. Monitor Your Business

It’s important to hear what others are saying about your business on the web. Google alerts are a great resource to find new recommendations, positive reviews, or blogs and news stories that mention your business.

While online review sites like Yelp, Yahoo, and TripAdvisor send notifications of reviews, what happens when your business is mentioned outside of those specific review sites like on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook? With Google Alerts, you catch web mentions as they occur.

TIP: Create alerts for your business name as it appears on social platforms. For example: use the short business name format as it appears in Twitter. I have alerts for “CreaArtsConsult” my Twitter and Pinterest user name.

Plug your business name, employee names, even a campaign tagline. Create an alert for your website URL in the same way.

2. Monitor Yourself

Your name means everything when you’re a small business owner. Add an alert for your name to not only catch positive mentions but also the negative ones.

TIP: Are you using a middle initial or combined phrase for a co-ownership? Create the alert with your MI or business owner name as it appears on the web. For example: use “Mary and Bob Smith” if the business has more than one owner.

3. Monitor The Competition

Use Google Alerts to listen in on the competition. Are they offering a new product or promoting a new service? Understanding what your competition is doing in real-time gives you the opportunity to react and adjust your own strategy.

4. Follow Industry Trends

I keep tabs on what’s happening in the social media world by plugging in keywords relevant to the industry as well as keywords relevant to my target niche and geographic location. And, don’t miss out on the opportunity to track a marketing campaign or promotion across print, broadcast and online media.

Google Alerts are the way to go if you and your business are out there on the web and being mentioned. Keep tabs on what’s important to you and your business. Don’t get caught hearing “Psst! Did You Hear…?”

Are you using Google Alerts to monitor your business?

Share your Google Alert tips in the comments!