Google Alerts is a tool offered for free from Google (imagine that). But what is it?
You can think of Google Alerts as an automatic search army that looks for valuable opportunities for you … all on autopilot. One of the coolest things you can do as a business owner is use it to find and engage potential customers who are more than likely ready to buy.
Though there are many other uses for Google Alerts, we’re going to focus on how it can help you identify potential buyers.
Set the Bait and Wait
Every time you create a new blog post, article, or other piece of content, it’s a good idea to set up alerts that relate to that topic.
For instance … you’re a plumber and you create a resource that helps people understand whether that leaky toilet is an easy fix or they should hire a professional. You can set up a few alerts that call attention to this, such as:
- leaky toilet
- fix a leaking toilet
- why is my toilet leaking
Why? Because whenever you get an alert about this, there’s an opportunity to point visitors toward the resource guide you created. If they discover their problem is something that should be tackled by a plumber, then they already know about you.
Think about how this example might apply to the goods or services that are your speciality, and you should get some ideas for how you could make Google Alerts work for you.
Finding Customers Already in Buying Mode
But we were going to talk about setting up alerts for potential customers that are already in buying mode.
These people aren’t just searching for information about something. They have a good idea about what they want already and they’re looking to narrow down their selection to make that final purchasing decision.
If you sell kid’s clothing, then potential alerts could look something like this:
- blue toddler’s jacket
- toddler winter *
- girls coat under *
- boys * shirt
Whenever you use an asterisk (*), that creates a wild-card field. In the case of the final bulleted item above, you might elicit alerts for “boys sweat shirt” or “boys Diego shirt.” People searching for specific things like this are most likely ready to buy the minute they find what they’re looking for.
Finding Local Customers Online
Do you run a local business? Alerts can easily be beneficial for you, too. Let’s say you sell car audio equipment. You can set up alerts to be notified whenever someone searches for your products or installation services in the local area. Some ideas:
- Chicago car audio systems
- Car audio installation Chicago
- Best car audio Chicago
How to Set Up Google Alerts
Setting up alerts is very simple to do. Over time, however, you’ll probably find you want to tweak the results so you don’t get flooded with irrelevant notifications. To set yourself up for notifications, go to Google Alerts. You’ll open the screen below:
- Enter the search term for which you want to receive notifications.
- Select the results you want. Here you can select to be notified only of news that contains the search term. You can can ask to receive a notification only when blog posts are picked up that mention your search term. There are several options, but I’d stick with everything to start.
- Select how often you want to get notifications: you can choose once a day, one per week, or an instant notification each time your term is picked up.
- Choose whether you want only what Google considers the best results or all of them. Again, I’d stick with all for now. You can filter them down later if needed. (More on that below.)
- Enter the email address where you want to receive notifications.
Once you’ve set up your alerts and you’re getting notifications, you may notice your inbox is filling up quickly with a lot of notifications that aren’t helpful. If that is the case, there are several ways to fine-tune your notifications.
Say you’re getting a lot of results from a particular website you aren’t interested in hearing about. You can instruct Google to exclude notifications from that domain. If your original alert was for snow removal New York, change it to:
snow removal New York -site:www.thedomainyoudontwant.com
The “-site:www.domain.com” is called a search operator. You can use tons of them to home in on the exact notifications you want. Here are a bunch of search operators you can use.
You could use this tool in conjunction with social media marketing, too. Set up alerts for your business, industry, or products whenever it or they are mentioned on a specific social media site. That way, you can join the conversation immediately and make new contacts/get new customers.
Thinking outside the box to come up with intuitive marketing campaigns can easily set you apart from your competitors. This is just one example of doing just that. You can bet that few (if any) of your competitors are using alerts to its full potential.
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