Google Tools Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts looking at what tools Google has to offer to help you as a website owner. I strongly recommend that everyone who owns or looks after a website gets themselves a Google account to take full advantage of the plethora of tools available.

In part 1, I am going to be looking at Google Alerts – updates of the latest relevant Google results on a selected query or topic.

How to use:

Google Alerts are wonderfully simply and user friendly (like the majority of Google Tools). All you need to do is to go to the main Alerts page, type in the term you want to monitor, choose the type of results you want to look at (images, discussions, everything etc), how often you want to be updated, how many results you receive per email and where to deliver the results to. That’s it, you don’t even have to have a Google account!

Why Use It?

If you want to find out what people are saying on the Internet about your company or a competitor, Google Alerts is ideal. Rather than trawling through common forums, review sites etc, simply put your company/competitor name in as the Alert term and let Google do the work for you. As soon as Google index a page with new content containing your company/ competitor name, the information will get added to your next Alert. Equally, if you want to find out about a specific product you are selling or thinking of selling, use that as the Alert term. Remember though, it is only when Google see new content relating to your Alert term that you will be notified – anything already out there will not be included in emails.

One unexpected benefit I found from Google Alerts is seeing how quickly new content on your site is being indexed – if one of your Alerts matches text you’ve added to your website, you will receive the information in your next Alerts email.

Handy tips

One of the options for where you deliver the Alerts to is ‘Feed’ – this means that rather than receiving the Alerts via email, they will be delivered to your RSS feed reader.  There are a couple of main advantages to this:

  1. How many emails do you get each day? Getting Google Alerts by email on top of your standard emails further clutters up your Inbox and might mean you are more likely to ignore them (I know I was guilty of this).
  2. With feed delivery, you get the Alerts as soon as Google finds them. This means that you can react to the information more quickly and you can see more accurately how quickly Google pick up information

Our Company name ‘Add People’ is formed from two very generic words. When I first set up the Alerts I was getting thousands of notifications of new content each day. I quickly realised that to save my time (and eyesight), I needed to try to narrow this down more so put quotation marks around the name. This means that I only get alerted when the exact term ‘Add People’ is written. While there are still a lot of results, it is definitely more manageable.

Misspellings are common on the Internet so don’t forget to get Alerts for these as well. The main one I monitor is ‘Addpeople’.

When you have a spare 5 minutes, access or sign up for a Google Account and try out some Alerts. Even if you choose to do nothing about the information coming in, it’s there for when you might need it.

In Part 2 I will be talking you through Google Reader – an RSS Feed Reader and my ultimate time saver at the moment!