When it comes down to it, we all want more traffic to our blog or site. Traffic = potential customers, right? While there are many tactics to drive more traffic to your site (write great, shareable content, amplify through social), I want to focus on one technique in particular:
If you’re not familiar with Google Alerts, let me introduce you.
The Good of Google Alerts
Let’s say you are a mobile application developer, and you want to know whenever there is news about the phrase “mobile app.” In Google Alerts, you can set up an alert so that any time this phrase is used, you get a ping.
Now, that’s useful in and of itself. You can keep up with industry news, as well as what your competitors are doing. Here are some different ways I like to use Alerts:
Industry keywords: to see what people are blogging or what news is happening
Trends: to find out what others are saying about what’s hot in my field
Competitors: to see what they’re up to
My brand: to find out who’s talking about us
My name: to locate mentions of me as an expert in my field
These are all useful alerts to have in general, but let’s dive into how you can use each to drive traffic to your blog.
Alert 1: Industry Keywords
If you’re like me, you don’t have a ton of time to hop from news site to blog every day to find out what’s going on in your industry. Fortunately, you don’t have to. By inputting keywords that relate to what you do, you can stay on top of what’s happening.
Here’s how I use industry keywords for my blog: I see what other people are writing about and decide how to best use it. Maybe I reference one of the videos below and link to the original. That way, if one of the videos about content marketing is hugely popular, it’s probably going to be a hit on my blog. I get more traffic, and the video creator gets the click to the original video.
Even if you’re not looking for videos, the results that appear in your Alert will be the top-ranking results. You already know that these blogs/news sites/videos/whatever are popular, so you can use them to glean ideas for your own content.
Remember: never copy and paste someone else’s website or blog content. It’s as illegal as outright stealing. You can, however, quote from a site, as long as you attribute it and link to the original source. This is a great way to create a connection with other bloggers or website owners. If you’re interested in republishing a post from a site, contact the site owner to get permission first.
Alert 2: Trends
As embarrassed as I am to admit this, the other day I was searching for “twerking.” No, I wasn’t bored and looking to learn a new dance. I was writing a post about using trends to grab ahold of people through your blog headline. I digress.
It was interesting to see what results came up. My goal was to show that people were using a trend (twerking) to drive traffic to their blogs, and I found great examples of this.
If you know of a trend and want to use it to get ideas, set up an Alert for it. If you’re not sure what trends are happening online, check out Google Trends. Even if it seems like there’s no connection between the trend (twerking) and your business (developing mobile apps), finding a creative connection can attract tons of new blog readers. Wouldn’t this blog title catch your attention and make you want to read the article?
5 Reasons Your Current Mobile App Provider Isn’t “Twerking” for You
I just made up that example to show you that you can connect with any trend, regardless of your industry.
Alert 3: Competitors
What better way to find out what your competitors are up to than to set up an Alert that shows all results, from publications that have written about them to their own blog content? I’m not suggesting you copycat your competitors, but you can certainly get ideas from what they’re doing.
Let’s say you see that your biggest competitor recently wrote a guest blog post on a popular small business blog. That’s a great idea! You can find other blogs (or even pitch that one, if you have a different enough idea for a post than what your competitor wrote) and contribute guest content to reach a wider audience and drive traffic back to your blog.
You might even find that your competitors are copying what you’re doing online! As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. At least keeping your competitors in your scope will help you know what they’re up to.
iSpionage also offers Competitor Alerts, check them out too when you get a chance.
Alert 4: Your Brand
It’s immensely helpful to know who’s talking about your company, and Google Alerts helps you do that. Blogwise, you can find out who’s quoting your content or reviewing your products (as well as who’s reposting your content without your permission, in some cases).
Let’s say there is a review of your mobile app development on a popular blog. Fantastic! Your first step should be in commenting on that post and thanking the blogger for the review. You can then write a post about all the great things that blogger said about your brand, linking to the original post. Get enough of these, and you can create a roundup post every month or so and link to all the mentions.
You can also use this type of alert for damage control. If there are less-than-savory mentions of you out there, you want to know so you can respond and fix the situation.
Alert 5: Your Name
If, like me, you spend a great deal of energy working to brand yourself as an expert online, it can be helpful to see what turns up when you set up an alert for your name. You can use this in the way you used Alert #3: respond to mentions or quotes from your content, and link to them in your own blog content.
If you guest blog, pay attention to which of the sites you contribute to show up at the top of the list. Those are the ones getting the most visitors on your content, and the ones you want to put more attention on.
You may also find out, as an example, that there’s someone else with your name who’s dominating the name search. In that case, consider using your middle initial or other differentiator so you still appear high in search results.
The Key to Getting More Traffic
All of these alerts can help you do several things, which, in turn, can boost your traffic significantly:
Understand the kind of content your audience wants
Find out what people are saying about you and your brand
Get a glimpse into the content marketing strategies of your competitors
The information you get from these alerts is only as good as what you do with it. Use the data to better understand your audience and your industry, and to write phenomenal content that will be a magnet for new readers.
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s also the founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant, 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites. You can connect with her on Twitter or through Google+.