Quite frequently, I am reminded of how we take certain things for granted, while it could be something completely new/interesting/educating/shocking for someone else.
Using Google Alerts for competitive research is one such “thing”. During a chat with a friend the other day, I casually mentioned how I use Google Alerts to keep an eye on my industry, and it completely blew him away, while I’d actually been doing this for as long as Google Alerts have existed (and before that News.com alerts).
So, for what it’s worth, here goes:
I use Google Alerts to set up specific alerts for specific keywords.
When Google first finds any new or existing content (blog posts, web pages, forum discussions, etc) anywhere on the web that it hasn’t indexed before, that contains these keywords, Google sends me an email with a link to this newly-found content.
And if a publisher has password-protected their content, but still allowed Google to index it (using the “password-protected content” sitemaps feature), then Google emails me a little blurb of that password-protected content!
So, basically I have set up tens of alerts, the first one (vanity “alert” ahead – quite literally! 🙂 being my own name (“Ravi Jayagopal”). That way, I always know the instant (or within a few days at worst), if anyone is blogging/writing about me or my products.
Here are some of the alerts you could create:
1. Your full name
2. For all your product names
3. All your web site urls
4. Each and every one of your competitors’ names
5. All of your partners’ names
6. Name of any industry expert (or their web site url) whose blog/site you follow (like I have one for “Seth Godin” 🙂
7. The name or category of your industry: For eg., right now I’m a month away from launching a very powerful “Access Management” software to manage subscription-based web sites. So, some of my alerts include the keywords “subscription”, “content”, “download”, “security”, etc. Yes, I do get some false positives, but who cares!
The kind of stuff Google finds on a daily basis thanks to these alerts, not only help me keep a tab on myself, my customers, my competitors, and my idols, but it also gives me a lot of new ideas, new features for my products, and great new ways in which I can make my product remarkable!
So go create your alerts today.