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.
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.
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.