Lifehacker has a great article on Google Alerts. It has been a quiet feature without a lot of press but this is really a major tool for any small business. Every successful small business I meet with has one commonality, the owner stays focused on what she knows well. This does not mean that you spend time every few days combing the internet to see how you look online. At most an owner will look a few times a year or when a customer points out something to them. This is not an ideal way to manage what new customers are seeing about you.
What’s It Do For My Business
Google Alerts can do the following for a small business
What are people saying about their company or services
Keep track of relevant news that affects their business
What are people saying about the owner directly
What Do I Use It For
There are 2 parts to an effective use of a tool. First thing is knowledge and the second is taking action. If a customer has a problem and you don’t know about and result is something appears online then you can reach out to the customer and rectify it. This will often trigger a very positive response online that will enhance your reputation instead of detracting from it.
When a competitor offers a new service or product offering, you can respond by offering a competitive service. If they change pricing it may trigger a marketing response or a preparation on why your pricing has value compared to them. If you know about these things you will prepare to take action which translates into more revenue.
How It Works
You set up a query a lot like doing a direct search on Google itself. The Alerts server monitors this constantly and when relevant data comes up it reaches out to you with an email and lets you know something is going on. In the marketing game this is part of reputation management. Once an alert hits you see it and decide what to do and when to do it.