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How to Set Up Google Alerts (+Business Uses and Tips)

November 12, 2019

Have you ever wanted to collect the most relevant news and blog posts about your industry without doing the work yourself? Don't bother your intern with this stuff, Google Alerts can do that for you.

Google Alerts is a free service offered by Google that allows users to receive notifications about specific search terms directly in their inbox. Depending on your industry and position in your company, you might use Google Alerts for different reasons. 

You can set up to 1,000 Google Alerts between all of your Gmail accounts. That's a lot of information! And the best thing about Google Alerts is that anyone, from freelancers to CEO’s, can benefit from using them. Keep reading to find out how.

Interested in learning more about Google Alerts? Use the links below to jump ahead:

How to set up a Google Alert

Google Alerts will only send you updates on alerts after you create them. They cannot send you sources for anything published before the alert was set. That means the first step in the process should be creating your most important Google Alerts first.

Four steps for creating a Google Alert:

  1. Go to Google Alerts
  2. Enter the topic you want to follow in the box at the top
  3. Adjust your Settings by clicking show options. You can change:
    • Frequency of notifications
    • Preferred language
    • Source type (blog posts, videos, etc.)
    • How many results you want to see
  4. Click create alert, you’ll get emails whenever Google finds matching results

Once you create your Google Alerts, they'll be delivered directly to your inbox. You can change which email address you'd like to receive your alerts from in the show options section when you create the alert.

Creating a Google Alert is just the first step. There might be a time where you need to edit your current alerts or delete an alert entirely. The next two sections cover how to do that.

How to edit a Google Alert

Let’s say you made a mistake in the settings of a Google Alert you created. You don’t have to delete the alert and start over, you can just edit an existing one. Here’s how:

Five steps for editing a Google Alert:

  1. Go to Google Alerts
  2. Click the edit button, which appears as a pencil icon, next to the alert
  3. Choose to show options
  4. Make your changes
  5. Click update alert to save

Editing Google Alerts can help you filter out spam or unrelated topics your keywords are pulling. Or if you find that you’re being spammed with too many emails, you can edit your alerts to receive them less frequently.

How to delete a Google Alert

If you find that your Google Alert isn’t returning the results you need at all, or you’re just finished tracking a certain keyword, you might want to delete your Google Alerts. Here’s how:

Three steps for deleting a Google Alert:

  1. Go to Google Alerts
  2. Next to the alert you want to remove, click Delete
  3. You can also delete an alert by unsubscribing from an alert email

While creating your Google Alerts might seem straightforward, getting the most out of those alerts is another story. Keep reading to learn the best business uses for Google Alerts and discover how you can make them work for you.

How to get the most out of your Google Alerts

As you begin creating your Google Alerts, you might find some of your searches pull in content that isn’t relevant to your topic. That’s because Google Alerts are only as sophisticated as your search parameters. With that in mind, here are some tips for setting up your Google Alerts.

Creating a Google Alert for a specific phrase

Add quotes to search for a specific phrase on the web. For example, “Chicago Bears” finds mentions of the NFL team. Without quotes, pages that include any combination of the words Chicago and just regular ol’ bears will be sent to your inbox.

Google Alert Tips

Excluding certain phrases from Google Alerts

Looking to exclude a phrase from your alerts? Place a hyphen in front of a term to exclude it. For example, -“Chicago Bears” excludes results that include the phrase.

tips for google alerts

Creating Google Alerts for a specific domain

Only interested in alerts from a single domain? Use the search site: term. For example: site:learn.g2.com will monitor results only from the ‘G2 Learning Hub’ website. From there you can add indicators for what type of content you want to see from that site by adding +content type.

How to create Google Alerts

Avoiding Google Alert spam

Avoid generic, or common keywords. If you set a Google Alert for CRM, you’re going to get any mention of CRM on Google. Try creating an alert for “CRM” + tips if you’re looking for tips or maybe “CRM” + Author Name if you want CRM articles from a specific writer.

Don’t set too many alerts or you’ll get bogged down. Aim for 5-10 primary alerts per account when you’re first starting out. Once you get the hang of things, you can begin adding more alerts into the mix.

You can avoid getting spammed with multiple emails a day by consolidating all your alerts into one single email. Use inbox by Gmail to bundle your alerts into one. It’s important to keep in mind, this only works if you’re getting your alerts sent to a Gmail account.

What types of Google Alerts should you set?

Pinpointing the right keywords to target can be tricky when you’re new to Google Alerts. No matter what industry you work in or what position you hold, there are a few things everyone should track. Keep reading for a few suggestions for topics plus keywords you can target.

Set up a Google Alert for your name

As you get further in your career, the chances of being quoted in a piece or mentioned as an expert in your field increases. That’s why setting a Google Alert for your name is a good place to start.

Example Google Alert terms:

  • “Your name”
  • “Your name” + title
  • “Your name” + company
  • “Your name” + industry

Set up a Google Alert for your company name

This alert is especially helpful if you work in public relations or social media. It will tell you when other businesses or websites mention your company. This is an easy way to keep your finger on the pulse of how your business operates in your industry.

Example Google Alert terms:

“Your company”

“Your company” + awards

“Your company” + news

“Your company” + leadership

Set up a Google Alert for your industry

Creating an alert for your industry can help you stay on top of new trends, breaking news, and the overall trend of things. This will allow you to stay tuned into what’s moving things forward without having to spend hours on research.

Example Google Alert terms:

“Your industry” + news

“Your industry” + merger

“Your industry” + IPO

“Your industry” + thought leadership

Set up a Google Alert for your competitors

If you think your competitors don’t already have a Google Alert set up for your business, then you don’t have your head in the game. To be the best, you have to beat the best. That’s why you need to make it your business what your competitors are up to.

Example Google Alert terms:

“Your competitor” + news

“Your competitor” + product

“Your competitor” + reviews

“Your competitor” + “your company”

Set up a Google Alert for your product

We’re all trying to sell something. At the end of the day, knowing what people think about your product is crucial to your success. Setting up alerts specifically for your product will help you get real-time insights into how you’re performing.

Example Google Alert terms:

“Your company” + product

“Your product” + launch

“Your product” + new

“Your product” + review

Set up alerts for customer reviews

While it can be a boost to your ego to read positive online reviews, the reality is that customers are more likely to share bad experiences. Being aware of these problems are the first step toward fixing them.

Example Google Alert terms:

“Your Brand” + hate

“Your Brand” + broken

“Your Brand” + too expensive

“Your Brand” + terrible

As you become more comfortable with Google Alerts, you can explore other niche keywords and search phrases. You’ll start to become familiar with what phrases return the type of content you want to read. Don’t be afraid to experiment! There are a dozen business uses for Google Alerts beyond just reading the news.

Stay alert!

The purpose of Google Alerts is to make your life and your job easier. While it may take a bit of playing around with in the beginning, you’ll find that over time Google Alerts can do everything you want it to and more. Patience is the key!

There’s more that Google can do for you! Check out our list of the best Google Chrome extensions to make your life easier.

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