Google Alerts is a fantastically powerful Google product that appears to be woefully underused for the purposes of link building.
Maybe one of the reasons for this is that white-hat SEOs don’t want to have to plough through dozens of emails per day every time somebody mentions the words ‘guest post’ or ‘resource’ online. Yet, they’re really missing a trick, because by using the right search parameters, there’s a gold mine of link opportunities out there rich for the pickings.
Here’s just a few of the top ones you should be using right now:
We know that competitor backlink analysis, conducted with tools such as Majestic SEO and Ahrefs Site Explorer, can help us identify some fantastic places where our clients’ competitors might be getting links.
Rather than looking back at a historical link profile, why not speed things up a little and implement a Google Alert for this?
Using the query: ["vertical leap" -site:verticalleap.co.uk] we are able to see results based on the exclusive mention of the words “Vertical Leap” (in speech marks so that we only include exact match results) whilst omitting any mention of the brand via the www.verticalleap.co.uk domain (the minus symbol).
You can apply this to any of your competitors and instantly start being notified of your competitor’s brand mentions whenever their name appears in any context that Google indexes – be it forums, blogs or news coverage.
*Make sure you select ‘Everything’ as a result field. It’s up to you then how often you want to receive them and where.
You might know where you’re competitors are getting their links from, but what about where unique opportunities exist for you?
Well, a keyword-based search query could help you – but only if you couple this with some more specific search query data.
Let’s say that you’re looking to get your latest product reviewed by customers, sites or bloggers with influence. Firstly you’d want to narrow down your keyword and then what kind of person you’re looking for.
[gardening tools * review] for example will throw up garden centres, bloggers and customer reviews, where the asterisk is representative of a wild card.
What if you wanted to find a social group who also might be interested in hearing about your aforementioned gardening tools? Well we have a social search query too:
[gardening site:facebook.com] - This will throw up all kinds of pages on Facebook, from personal profiles to community groups and brand pages.
A similar – and final query in this post – might be used when you are looking for big industry shows or events that might be interested in hearing more about your new great product.
[gardening intitle:conference] should alert us to instances of big industry shows and conferences from their meta title description, which appears in the top of your browser bar.
Stringing queries together
The best thing about Google Alerts really is your ability to string your Alerts as long or as short as you want them to be. Once you’ve received a few, you should be able to see what usual suspects keep appearing in your inbox and then be able to whittle them down using smarter or more exclusive search operators like “exact match” and -omit results.
List of useful Google search operators
No one should be without a list of these simple but great search parameters – and you’re certainly sure to come across some brilliant lists if you ever forget them via a quick search. Not too long ago our very own Chris Pitt of Vertical Leap fame also wrote about advanced search phrases in his detailed guide to Google operators which you should bookmark asap.
Study it well and let me know how you get on implementing Google Alerts for link building purposes.