Google Tools for Business, Blog Series – Part 4

Google Tools for Business, Blog Series – Part 4

I’ve been looking forward to posting on this topic all week! Google Alerts and Google Reader are two of my favorite online tools. When these two tools are used at their full capacity, you can virtually monitor almost everything going on online about your brand, business, or yourself. You can also setup custom queries to monitor your competition and industry. This information allows you to join in applicable online discussions about your trade and provide important back links to your business website across the internet (as an aside, a back link is a hyperlink that directs visitors back to your website that you post somewhere else across the internet to bolster your SEO*). The best part is that once you get everything all set up- these systems are totally automated and only require minor modifications over time.

Google Alerts

Go to the Google Alerts homepage and enter in your business name in quotes where it asks you for your search terms (e.g. “”Rob’s Consulting Business””). Tell Google to monitor and send you alerts on everything, once a day, and only to send the best results, then enter your e-mail address. Now you will receive an e-mail every time someone publishes online content that contains your business name across the web (via news articles, blog posts, or on personal websites and more!). Do the same above for any other important products, services or industry keywords as they apply to your business, industry or your name.

When you first set up Google Alerts, be prepared for a lot of junk e-mail alerts. As time goes on, you’ll want to refine and edit your Google Alerts to be more specific in weeding out the junk you may get. You can effectively do this using custom Google search strings (these are great to use for general Google searching, too). When I first set up an alert for my name, frequently the author and Psych-K business owner Rob Williams would appear in my alerts. In order to adjust for this, I edited my search term so that it read: “”rob williams”” -psych-k. Adding the ‘-psych-k’ to the search term eliminated all those non important alerts to me. You’ll need to refine and do the same with your alert e-mails.

Google Reader

The other half of today’s post, I want to dedicate to Google Reader. Google Reader is a free RSS reader. With a RSS reader, you can take multiple website content sources and display them all in one place. Before I go any further, let me share what RSS is.

Often on blog, news, or even search engines, you will see a small orange icon (see the image to the right). This icon is representative of the real simple syndication service, which enables users to read content from one website (usually the one that has the icon displayed), to anywhere else on the internet. In order to do this, you must ‘subscribe’ to the feed in question; basically, you are telling the internet where to send the content in that feed to (in our case, Google Reader).

By collecting and subscribing to important RSS feeds for your industry, you can further monitor online content. For a full review of how this process works, see my previous blog article on how I used Google Reader to “”grow bigger ears”” (per Chris Brogan).

*One frequent problem that arises with small business owners is that as soon as they set everything up, they want to post online everywhere about their products and services. This is not a recommended SEO methodology. Only post to pages whose content is related and relevant to your product or service. Too many links, in too many discussion forums can actually hurt your Google rank. Save posting your website address to only the best and most salient places.

Here are links to the other posts in this series:

Rob Williams is a Business Analyst for the University of Northern Iowa

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