31DBBBBlog CommunityBlog Tips

#SITS31DBBB: Monitoring Content with Google Alerts!

By Jun 12, 2011July 3rd, 201449 Comments

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Welcome back to another day of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog with The SITS Girls! Here in the Education channel, we are going through a handful of activities from Darren Rowse’s Problogger eBook together at a slow downed pace. Day 9 discusses how you can join a forum and start participating. After you read that article, we make it easy for you to get started. Just hop over to the SITS Community discussion on the topic!

Today we’re talking about setting up alerts to monitor what’s happening in your niche (aka Day 10). If you don’t have a niche, you’ll still want to monitor your circle of blogs. Chances are you’re following a lot of blogs already, so this task should be both educational and fun once you get past the words, “alert” and “monitor”!

What are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts are just automated search results brought directly to you via email or RSS. There are two reasons I use Google Alerts:

  1. To monitor what people on the Internet might be saying about me
  2. To monitor the topics on my blog so that I can keep on top of trends and find blogging inspiration

When you go to the Google Alerts page, you’ll see this box:

how to set up google alerts

Here’s what the fields mean:

  1. Search Terms: These are your search parameters. You can run a few Google searches to test this if needed
  2. Type: Everything, News, Blogs, Realtime, Video, Discussions
  3. How Often: Only relevant to email alerts: As-it-happens, Once a day or Once a Week
  4. Volume: Only the best results or all the results
  5. Deliver it to: Your email or a feed URL

Monitor Yourself

The best use of Google Alerts is to monitor the Internet for what others might be saying about you. I have all of these alerts set up to be delivered to me via email since the results directly effect me. Here are just some examples of what you’ll want to set up an alert for:

  • Links to your sites and social media accounts. Find out when people are linking to your site, Twitter page, Flickr account and more. To search for a link, type: link:http://www.urlhere.com into the search box.
  • Your name or alias. Even if you don’t have a blog, it’s a good idea to set up a Google Alert on your name. You never know when people might mention you!
  • Your site name if it’s unique enough.

Monitor Others

Another use for Google Alerts is to help you keep on top of trends on the Internet. I have these alerts set up to be delivered via feed and I check my feed reader once a week to see what I can find.

I have a general photography education blog, so I have two simple alerts set up to be delivered to my feed reader: “photography tips” and “photoshop tips”. If you have a very specific blog topic or an unique niche, Google alerts will probably be invaluable to help you keep on top of your market and find content to blog about. There are more targeted ways of monitoring blog content to find topics of interest to you and your readers.

Other Ways to Monitor Topics

  • Monitter: Pick several topics to filter through on Twitter and monitor them in real time.
  • Scoop.It: A new free site that allows you to set up multiple RSS feeds and searches to put together an article catalog about a topic.You can set up your own topic or monitor others. For example, you can see what I’ve put together for the SITS Girls 31DBBB or Photography & Photoshop Tips. (By the way, here’s an EXCELLENT example on Marketing Strategy & Business with lots of great social media tips!)
  • Paper.li: This is like Scoop.It, but Twitter focused and completely automated. It takes a twitter search, hashtags or lists and compiles all the links, videos and photos tweeted out into a regular paper. It also allows you to automatically tweet out the links when the paper is updated, which includes replies for some of the contributing Twitter accounts. Some people don’t like being included in these papers, but I find people are generally appreciative. Tweeting the links automatically is optional, but collecting the information in an easy-to-digest paper is undoubtedly a nicely organized way to monitor content! Here’s the one I put together for the SITS Girls community on Twitter.
  • Subscribe via RSS: I use Feedly with Google Reader to subscribe to every well put together, interesting blog I come across. As you can see, my Links page is quite extensive as it lists all my subscriptions! Feedly is a great tool because it organizes the content in a magazine-style layout. I can mark my daily-read blogs as favorites and needn’t worry that my unread item count is always maxed out. Feedly also makes it easy to search through all the blog articles fed into it and comes in handy when you’re researching a topic.

Get Started Monitoring!

Take these ideas and suggestions from community members via the #SITS31DBBB hashtag on Twitter and tomorrow’s forum post to start monitoring topics for your blog!

  • Make a list of search topics relevant to your blog. Test them out in Google. Remember exact phrases can go in quotes for more targeted results!
  • Determine how you want to monitor these results. A Google alert, even as an RSS feed, may not be targeted closely enough to the people and blogs that interest you. Consider using your existing blog subscriptions and Twitter friends to feed you this content!
  • Make a list of every link and search term you want to monitor to find out who’s talking about you.


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  • Luke Right says:

    Though i use google arlert but still i was not well verse with that but after reading this post i came to know many more points i can utilize on.. thanks for sharing..

  • Okay – I setup Google Alerts – brilliant stuff! I even registered at Scoop.It but am so totally clueless about the point of this. I put in my category info but it seems to not be generating anything. I’m confused by this one!

  • katherine says:

    Wow, I suddenly feel like I’ve just emerged from the stone-age. I wonder if cavemen felt this way when the 1st fire was lit. Seriously, I heard about “alerts” but never thought to use them. I haven’t checked out the other resources yet but I will make certain to. Thanks for the brief “schooling”. I read today’s assignment & thought, “Darn. How do I set up an alert?” It’s only day 2 but signing up for 31DBBB was a great idea.

  • Great idea. I knew nothing about alerts, Feedly or Scoop it. I signed up for some Alerts, one on my blog and one my niche. But I am still pondering Scoop it and Feedly. All of this take so much time between the blog, pinterest, Facebook and I don’t even use Twitter. Surely most beginning bloggers are not making enough money to call blogging a job so how do you find the time?

  • Carolyn says:

    Great article. Just set up some alerts.

  • Thanks for the information. I am monitoring my blog now 🙂

  • Google alerts seems pretty straight forward but still i get nothing for my own site, seldom on others sites, but often from an seo firm I monitor. I’m not getting something.

  • Jen Devere says:

    Jen here,

    Be careful how many sets of alerts you set up, and dont use your business email address for this either. My boss wasnt too happy when he saw what was coming in..and he’s a lawyer as well!


  • Optimistic Mom says:

    Very informative!! I am setting this up and excited about the possibilities. As I continue through the daily activities I can’t believe all that I am learning. 🙂

  • Alia says:

    These are AMAZING ideas! I cannot thank you enough for sharing these with us!

    Loads of Love,

  • Polly says:

    Love this idea! I have recently set up Google Alerts for my name and website name to be delivered to my email once a week. It has been really neat to see any new places that my content is popping up online. Once I found one of my articles had been referenced in a newspaper and I would have never known it if it weren’t for my Google Alert. Thanks for the great tips!

  • T-Byrd says:

    Me and my insomnia are going to set this up right now!

    i like the idea of using it for my blog and my name


  • This is an awesome tip! Powerful information! Thank you so much!!!

  • myne whitman says:

    I use google alerts and Paper.li and they’re really useful!

  • Lizzie says:

    I don’t really use alerts that much for my blog – but I always keep up to date with current affairs in my niche, just in case I want to blog about it.

  • Oh My! Love this Paper Li. I named mine Mommy Blogger Twitter Press. I love the alrets and I need to come up with some good Keywords.

  • I keep a google search on my town, I love seeing when people from my town are in the news. I never thought to keep a better eye on my flickr and twitter feed though.

  • Michelle says:

    Great tips Lynda, thanks! I’ve never thought about monitoring myself before, I’ve only monitored certain topics related to my niche. I’m lazy about utilizing Google Alerts (maybe I need to change this), but do use Twitter, Feedly, and Paper.li regularly.

    Thanks again! Peace. 😉

  • Trish says:

    Thanks for all the great information! I’ve had my own blog set up for google alerts, but didn’t think about other blogs, my name or some other terms. Thanks!

  • Susan Silver says:

    Great tips!

    Here are some ways to get alerts via Twitter

    By monitoring Twitter I catch a lot of tweets I miss. A great service to use is backtype that will show you who has retweeted your links no matter what shortner they have used.

    Another good Twitter Tip, Save Searches of the topics you cover and the hashtags you use most. Get real time reported news in your twitter stream 🙂 this is my fav. way to see what is going on in my niche as well as finding new accounts to follow!

  • Jen-MamaZen says:

    I had set up alterts when I started my first blog, but it didn’t do great (due to my lack of knowledge and motivation) and I had forgotten about it. Thanks!

  • Bibi says:

    I signed up for Google alert 4 months ago and so far I haven’t received any alerts and I have set up few in few options. I even went on Google forum to find out the answer, but it seems that few other people have same problems for no apparent reason (they never start receiving them or eventually stop receiving them). It seems the alerts work for some and doesn’t work for others, unfortunately. I would love to use it, but I need to find some new ways.

  • Penelope says:

    I set up google alerts for my foster care niche last fall. I now get only 1 hit a day. I will adjust in beta version & see if that opens it a bit.

    I had an alert for Foster2Forever but will set up one with the URL.

    I organize my feed by topic but I will try Feedly. Sounds great!

    Thanks! Great article!

  • Great stuff, Lynda! I’ve been meaning to check out Scoop.It and Feedly. Thanks for the push!

  • Robin says:

    I think this all is very interesting, but I am an on and off blogger who is in it just for the fun of it. I think this sounds like way too much work. Do I want to know what others are saying about me?…..(especially after I post this – LOL) Seriously though, I’m not sure if this would / should pertain to me and my little blog. But it is interesting….

    • Setting up the alerts to monitor your blog name, your name and links into it is a one-time shot and you’ll get an email if someone mentions you. That part of it isn’t a lot of work.

      I personally don’t really use Google Alerts to find blog fodder, though I have some set up for it. I just read my massive list of blogs to find topics to talk about.

  • Mama Kat says:

    Very informative!!

  • Christine says:

    Thank you, once again, for such helpful info. I signed up for Google alerts a while ago but haven’t received any “alerts” in a very long time. Going to check on my settings now.

  • barb g says:

    I’ve been using alerts for about a year & love using them. I have them set up for all my blogs. I also have them setup for basic “diabetes,diabetic” terms and “giveaways” so I always have new contests to enter and new content to talk about on diabetic snacker. Actually diabetic used to be my “keyword” but now it’s mostly “giveaway” so I try to stay on top of both subjects sort of like
    a double niche for me.

  • Eve says:

    I’ve been using Google Alerts for a few months and it’s really helped me stay up to date on what’s happening in my niche(s). Great post!

  • Mimi says:

    I have used Google alerts for awhile now. I love using them to get inspired to write new blog posts as well as track my own sites. Such a great tool!

  • Queen J. says:

    Great information! I didn’t even know what Google Alerts was until now. Good to know that there is something out to let you know when people are mentioning you around the web.

  • I love Google Alerts. I use them to monitor my blogs and my home business.

  • Jenny says:

    I tried to set up an ALERT for my blog and it came up with no results xD Doesn’t really surprise me…

    • Did you set up the alert for a link or your blog name? I’ve found that when I set my search to EVERYTHING, it ironically misses some stuff! I have separate alerts set up for Everything, Blogs and Discussions for the same search terms. That way it really does find everything!

      • Jenny says:

        Yus! 😛 I typed in both link:http://oh.so-very.me (and w/out the http) and just my basic url(s). Nothin. Hehe. Either I did it wrong or Google hates me 😉

        • I’d suggest setting up the alert anyway. I’ve had no results come through in preview and still received an email alert. It *might* be that everyone who’s linking to you either adds or lets their blog add a “nofollow” rel attribute to the link. I don’t think those are picked up.

  • Modern Gypsy says:

    Great information – thanks so much Lynda!

  • I do use Google Alerts, but I didn’t think to use them for stuff other than my blog! As always, you’ve given us new info that we can use…thank you!!!

  • misssrobin says:

    So much great information that I never would have found on my own. Thanks!