Can’t afford a fancy media monitoring service? You can use Google Alerts to monitor the web for mentions of your organization or business (it’s free!). Google Alerts tracks content posted all over the web, including news sites, blogs, forums, and more.
You can also use Google Alerts to monitor for other reasons, such as:
- Tracking news related to your industry or service area
- Keeping an eye on news related to your competitors
It’s not perfect, but it does a pretty decent job. You can create up to 1,000 alerts per account, which means you can go wild and monitor anything of importance to you!
#1: Go to google.com/alerts
#2: Enter the term(s) you want to monitor into the box.
Tips for effective search terms:
- If your business or organization’s name is more than one word, make sure to put quotation marks around it (for example, “Megan Flynn Marketing”). This will let Google know to look for the entire search term. Otherwise, you would get results for anything containing Megan, Flynn, or Marketing—which would flood your inbox with useless alerts.
- Use the “OR” search operator to create an alert that will search for all possible variations of your business/organization’s name. For example, “Lower Georgia Ave” OR “Lower Georgia Avenue” will search for any mentions on the web that include “Lower Georgia Ave” or include “Lower Georgia Avenue.”
- Use the minus sign (-) search operator to exclude words from your search query. For example, perhaps your business has the same name as an unrelated business in another state. You can use the minus sign immediately before a word to indicate that you do not want sites that contain this word to appear in your alert results. Example: “Name of Your Business” -Arkansas
#3: Once you’ve entered your search terms, click “Show Options” to expand the settings box.
#4: Choose your desired settings.
- How Often: Your options are as-it-happens, at most once a day, and at most once a week. You’ll likely want to select “as-it-happens” if you’re monitoring for media mentions of your business or organization, whereas if you’re monitoring for news related to your industry you might want to choose “at most once a day” or “at most once a week.”
- Sources: Let Google know where it should search. The default is “automatic” (everywhere), but you can specify news, blogs, web, video, books, discussions (forums), and/or finance.
- Language: If you’re only interested in sources that are in English, you can select English. If you want Google to search for your keywords on sites of any language, select “Any Language.” Google provides a long list of possible languages you can specify.
- Region: This allows you to define which country the sites/pages Google searches are from. If you’re only interested in results from US sites, select “United States.”
- How many: Let Google know whether to send you every single result it finds, or whether to curate its findings and only send you the best results. I generally recommend starting with “All Results” and updating if needed.
#5: Once you’ve chosen your settings, click “Create Alert.”
#6: After your alert has been created, you can define two additional settings for your alerts by clicking on the gear icon in the top right of your alert. These settings will apply across ALL of the alerts you have set up.
- Delivery time: Choose when to receive your alerts (i.e., 2:00PM, 8:00AM, etc)
- Digest: If you’d like to receive all of your alerts (for all keywords you’re monitoring) in a single email, you can check this box and then select whether to receive your digest email “At most once a day” or “At most once a week.”
That’s it! From now on, you’ll receive alerts to your inbox at the frequency you selected whenever Google finds your search term on the web.
Bonus Tool: Looking for an alternative to Google Alerts? Mention’s free plan allows you to create one alert, connect one social media account, and monitor mentions on social media (excluding Facebook)