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What’s the buzz? Keeping tabs

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Saturday October 28, 2006 )

Hands up those online business owners who regularly search the web for mentions of their own name or domain name. Everyone? Of course we do :). It’s not just natural curiosity, but also a good strategy for building relationships, keeping an eye on competitors and monitoring what customers are saying about you.

Now there’s an even easier way to keep tabs on what people are saying about you and your online business.

Google Alerts has been around for some months, but they’ve just recently announced the addition of blogs as a data source; making their Alert service a lot more powerful.

Google Alerts is a free service that will email you updates of the latest results from Google News, Web, Blogs, and Groups based on a query you specify.

Still in beta at present (isn’t everything these days?), you can specify one service to monitor or all of them and have alerts sent to you daily, weekly or as results become available.

It’s a very easy service to use; simply enter the query, select the source and frequency, add your email address, then confirm. You don’t need a free Google account to use Alerts, although more features are available if you do so.

It can serve your online business in a variety of ways:

– alert you to customer reviews and comments posted in blogs
– find out who is linking to you
– keep tabs on your competitors
– be informed of the latest industry happenings
– get an early heads up about defamatory postings

My partner and I started using it early today – her for uni research, me for business, so there really hasn’t been enough time to evaluate the service thoroughly as yet, but we have already received a few alerts which have been useful. I found some new sites that were linking to Taming the that I wasn’t aware of and Kathy wound up with useful material for an essay she’s writing.

Google Alerts currently allows for up to 1,000 different alerts per email address.

I believe the service has plenty of potential, but be careful how you structure your queries, otherwise your inbox may be inundated. Google recommends visiting their general Advanced Search page to refine your queries and then copying and pasting that query into Google Alert.

I hate to think how many mail servers Google is going to need to have to add to keep this service cranking :).


Defending your online reputation


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