Practical Ecommerce

The PeC Review: Google Alerts Helps With Reputation Management

Google Alerts is a free service that sends users an email or RSS alert when the search engine indexes new material related to a specific keyword phrase.

Although the service is still described as a beta, it has been available for years and many a savvy businessperson has used the service to manage a company’s reputation online.

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As an example, an online merchant might set up an alert for his or her store’s name, URL, and key products. When her store is mentioned in a review or in a blog, Google will send the merchant an email with a brief description and a link back to the source. The merchant would be smart to comment on the review post, thanking the author, for example, for a positive analysis or trying to get to the bottom of (and not get defensive about) customer service issues.

Ultimately, Google Alerts is simple to use and an effective way to stay abreast of news or learn what people are saying about your store or your products. For these reasons I am giving Google Alerts four and a half out of a possible five stars in this The PeC Review.

Setting Up Google Alerts

Web Alerts From the Internet Search King

Google is the undisputed king of Internet search. Its search engine handles more queries than any other website indexing tool. So it does make sense to get alerts from the service that has its finger on the pulse of the web in a way that no other search engine can claim.

Simplicity Is Nice

Google Alerts is extremely easy to set up and use. In fact, extremely easy might be an understatement. Most anyone can set up several alerts in a matter a seconds. If you have not verified your email address with Google, you’ll have to wait for and respond to an email before the alerts become live, but otherwise this simple reputation management tool is ready to go in an instant.

Two Delivery Options

You can set Google Alerts to send you links to the pages it finds related to your query either once each day or once each week, and if there is no new information, you won’t get an alert at all. But if you use the RSS feature, you will get immediate notifications as new data is discovered.

The RSS Feed Adds More Value

I have been using Google Alerts since 2005, and when I first signed up the alerts were only available as emails. But now that Google has made it possible to receive notifications via RSS feeds, it makes the service far more valuable.

Because the RSS feeds track information as it happens, you can be much more proactive. Plus, with feeds you can manage your feed reader as you like, and not have to worry about multiple emails if you have several alerts established.

I did notice one unexpected behavior. Alerts that I had been receiving as emails stopped working when I switched them to feeds. I had to create new alerts as RSS feeds to start with in order to get the information.

Summing Up

Google Alerts is a simple to use and very effective tool that many ecommerce merchants can use for reputation management. As with many Google services, Google Alerts is free. Altogether, its features have earned it four and a half out of a possible five stars in this The PeC Review.

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Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. Adam Green March 30, 2009 Reply

    This is a good starting point for Google Alerts, but your readers should also keep in mind that Google Alerts will send a high volume of messages. If the words your are monitoring are used frequently, you need to do additional research to prioritize them effectively. We do this automatically with our AlertRank.com add-on for Google Alerts, or you can do this manually by determining the PageRank and additional measures of influence for each alert. Not all alerts have equal value, and a lot of time can be wasted by reacting to alerts with little influence.

  2. Armando Roggio March 30, 2009 Reply

    One of the many reasons that I like the RSS option.

  3. leffrey April 2, 2009 Reply

    I recall a similar article in the last 3 months. I setup Google Alerts with both our domain name and full corporate name in quotations. We receive a weekly list of useless links that obviously plant popular and commonly searched companies on them to draw traffic. Alot of them hide these terms in such a way that they are need seen by the viewer – but are picked up by search engines.

    I believe that this method of monitoring is only valuable to a new and smaller domain that will not be sought much.

  4. Armando Roggio April 2, 2009 Reply

    @leffrey,
    I hope "similar" isn’t bad, as we are going to review the other leading alert tools in the next couple of weeks. In fact, look for a review of a service that sends alerts to your mobile phone via SMS, which is really great for multichannel store owners who might be patrolling a physical store as well as watching their reputation online.

  5. Armando Roggio April 7, 2009 Reply

    @leffrey,
    Look for another alert related article this week.