You Can’t Keep up with the Jones’ if you don’t know what they are doing.
Welcome back to the SEO Tips series, I’m glad you’ve stuck with me and hope you have learned a thing or two to help your Web site perform better. This will be the last tip in this series for a while. Next week we’ll do a review of what we’ve covered so far, and then we’ll be taking a short break.
Over the last several weeks we have covered many ways for you to help your site to perform well. However, a big part of SEO is also doing research on the competition to learn what they are doing and what changes they are making. Some of this can be accomplished simply by visiting their sites and studying them, or by using link tools to see who links to them and how. Those are both great steps to use when setting a baseline for your evaluation of them. But if they are doing their job correctly, you know that new links will be getting added frequently. You don’t want to pour through an entire link report every week – right? Some of the sites I monitor have 5,000+ links to them, so I know I don’t.
You also put a fair amount of time and effort into developing your list of keywords and creating content to target them. It would be good to know who else is using them, and how. You might have a new competitor in your area and not even know it until you lose a client to them.
But how can you possibly keep track of all that? (and still sleep a few hours a day) Once again, Google makes it simple. Google Alerts is a simple tool that you can use to monitor all sorts of information about your site, other sites, your desired keywords and phrases or even information about yourself.
Configuring Google Alerts
You do need a Google account to use this tool, if don’t have one yet here is your chance. You can find the tool at https://www.google.com/alerts.
After you log in, you’ll see a button labeled “create new alert”. When creating a new alert you’ll need to provide the following information:
- Search TermThis is what you want Google to search for and inform you about if it finds something. You enter things here just link you would on the Google homepage. If you want to be notified when a new link is discovered to a domain, enter this (without the quotations) “link:domaintomonitor.com”. You can enter pretty much anything here; Words, phrases, your name, the URL of your site, URL of others sites. Lots of things. I also monitor for my e-mail addresses, twitter name and common miss-spellings of my name.
- TypeYou can restrict your search to particular areas (news, video, blogs, etc) within the index if you’d like, but using “comprehensive” will monitor all areas of the Google index.
- How OftenYou can choose to be alerted; weekly, daily or whenever something is discovered. Depending on what you are monitoring pick a time frame that suits your needs. Keep in mind that “as-it-happens” means exactly that, if Google discovers something at 2 am, you’ll get an alert at 2 am.
- Email length If you are monitoring very popular sites of keywords the alerts might catch several items at once, especially if you are using weekly alerts. This option lets you say whether you want up to 20 or 50 alerts per message.
- Deliver toYou can choose to have alerts sent to your e-mail, or added to your RSS feed reader. Depending on what you are monitoring, either one may be appropriate. Obviously e-mails should be used for urgent alerts.
Google will let you set up to 1,000 alerts for each account you create with them. However, the only way you can change the email address an alert goes to is to delete the alert and recreate it with the new one.
OK, now you are all set to start playing the role of Mrs. Kravitz, get out those binoculars and get busy spying on your neighbors competitors.