How to Maximize Your Use of Google Alerts

Alyssa Gregory

Most people who work online are familiar with Google Alerts, and many use it to keep on top of news and updates on a wide variety of subjects. Here is an overview of Google Alerts including some easy-to-implement tips for getting more out of the service.

What is Google Alerts?

If you’re new to this service provided by Google, it’s a content monitoring service that allows users to track keywords and be automatically notified when new content online matches the keywords. According to Google, people use Google Alerts to:

  • Find out what is being said about their company or product.
  • Monitor a developing news story.
  • Keep up to date on a competitor or industry.
  • Get the latest news on a celebrity or sports team.
  • Find out what’s being said about themselves.

Google scans web search, blog search and news results. You receive notification alerts if your keyword or keyword phrase is mentioned in any of those searches, and you can have up to 1,000 alerts. You can select the delivery rate of your notifications (daily, weekly or even real-time), the source of the search (web, blog, news or all), and the method of notification (email, RSS feed, exported CSV file).

How to Use Google Alerts

Like other monitoring services, the power of Google Alerts rests on your ability to setup useful and relevant searches. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of the service.

  • Follow search best practices: Treat your alerts as you would a search on Google. Be precise when formulating your search terms, use quotes when searching for keyword phrases, and follow the general suggestions for an effective Google search.
  • Watch your online reputation: The first set of alerts you create will probably monitor your name, company name, website, blog and other keywords and phrases that relate to you and your brand. This is a great way to keep tabs on your online reputation.
  • Track your competition: Use Google Alerts to watch what your competition does, promotions they run, articles they publish, press releases they distribute, and who mentions their name or website.
  • Monitor incoming links: Create alerts to track other web sites that link to your site or blog by using the “” syntax.
  • Follow topical news: If you have a targeted niche audience for your products or services, or write about a specific topic, an alert that focuses on the related keywords can be a great way to stay in the loop on important news.
  • Protect your content: Use your alerts to catch plagiarists in the act by tracking keyword phrases that are unique to your products, services, articles or marketing copy.

One thing to keep in mind is that the more alerts you have, and the broader the search terms are, the more notifications you will receive. You may want to analyze your alerts as the notifications start to pour in, and adjust your alerts to reflect the information you really want to track. Over time, you can develop a system for creating and monitoring your alerts that shouldn’t take more than a minute or two a day.

You can get more information on Google Alerts from the Getting Started Guide.