Publicity and Traffic Using Google Alerts
By Steve Gillman - August 17, 2013
How can you use Google Alerts to make money? There are a couple
ways. One is to use them to get publicity for yourself or your
website. This method has been proven to work by marketers, and
will be explained below. Another, more speculative technique,
is to use the alerts that others have set up in order to get
them to visit your website.
By the way, if you haven't ever used Google Alerts, you might
want to get familiar with them just for personal reasons. You
can track every mention of your name online, for example, or
keep track of people you know in case they end up in the news
somewhere. If you have a favorite celebrity or writer you can
set up an alert to notify you every time that person is mentioned
Here is the URL: http://www.google.com/alerts
Once you open an account you can set up alerts easily, but
you have a few choices to make for each one. First, you enter
a search term that you want. If you enter "cat training"
for example, you'll be notified when new content about that subject
is put online. If you actually put the search term in quotation
marks you'll only get those pages that have the words in that
order, so give that part some thought. To track your own name
online, for example, you'll probably want the preciseness that
quotation marks offer. After all, if your name is George Ball,
you're are going to get enough results without being notified
of every page that has "ball" and "George"
somewhere on it.
Then you get to choose the "Result Type." I like
to leave this set for "everything," but you have the
choice of just getting results from news outlets, blogs, video,
discussion boards, or books. Under "How Often" you
can elect for notification once daily, once weekly, or "as
it happens." The latter is useful for some purposes, as
you'll see, but for many other purposes it enough to get a daily
or weekly roundup of alerts. "How Many" results you
want is limited to "all" or "best results."
Choose "all" and change it to "best results"
only if you get overloaded with alerts. Then you enter an email
address to have your alerts sent to.
My Traffic Test
Now, before I get to how to get publicity using Google Alerts,
I'm going to do my own experiment, the speculative traffic technique
I mentioned above. I have had an alert set up for my own name
for years now, and I assume that many people do the same. So
my hypothesis is that if I include enough names on this page
I might get some of the people who have those names to visit
after they discover this page via their alerts.
I went to a list of the most common surnames and copied the
first seventy or so, and used these to start. Then I just added
various first names and put the results into the sentences that
you see below. You can feel free to skip over that part and continue
with the explanation that follows. I'll wrap up with a couple
more proven techniques.
Who Will Find This Page?
What will Edward Smith do when he sees this page?
How will Susan Johnson react?
Is Bobby Williams reading this?
What about Howard Jones?
Andy Davis might end up here.
Allen Garcia could come to this page as well.
Perhaps Kyle Anderson or Mary Taylor or Tom Taylor will wonder
Jose Rodríguez and Maria Martinez are both common enough
names to include.
Joe Wilson, Michael Moore and Steve Martin have some of the
most common surnames in the U.S.
It's possible that Sally Jackson, Bill Thompson and Julie
White will want to learn this trick.
Frank Lopez will want to see what's here, as will Billy Lee.
I hope Eddie González and Victoria Harris visit too.
Melissa Evans could be surprised to find this.
Ted Turner is too well known for this list.
Cynthia Torres might not be a common name.
If Steve Parker married Sue Collins and they found this page
that would be cool.
If Bert Edwards married Howard Stewart they would probably
Maria Flores, Tom Morris, Joe Nguyen, Peter Murphy, Ken Cook,
Peter Rivera, and Jay Rogers all have surnames that are listed
in the 100 most common for the Unites States.
The same is true for Mike Morgan, Andrew Peterson, Nancy Cooper,
and Sandra Reed.
I have to include June Clark, Larry Robinson, Nate Silver,
Carl Lewis, Jesus Pérez, Frank Hall, Al Young, Pedro Sánchez,
Jason Wright, Holly King, Chris Scott, Kyle Scott, Carl Bussey,
Taylor Green, Dan barker, James Barker, Carrie Baker, George
Adams, Wesley Nelson, Mark Hill, Betty Hill, Juan Ramirez, Cathy
Campbell, Lincoln Mitchell, Tony Roberts, and Raymond Phillips.
Of course, my own name, Steve Gillman, is included right here
and at the top of the page, so I will get an alert sent to me.
That will let me know how quickly this page has been indexed
by the search engines (or at least by Google). If there results
worth reporting, I will add to this page later, so check back.
Now let's move on to the other techniques.
Be the Expert
If you can claim expertise of any sort, and you have a website,
book or are a public speaker, you can gain publicity using this
simple technique. I'll explain briefly, and then give an example
or two to make it clear. Here is the very brief explanation:
Set up Google Alerts in your area of expertise, and whenever
something related is in the news contact the relevant newspapers,
radio shows and TV new shows to let them know you can comment
as an expert.
For example, suppose you know all about hiking, and you have
a blog on the subject. You set up Google Alerts for search phrases
like "hikers hurt in accident," and "lost hikers"
and so on. Then you get an alert about a couple hikers found
starving in Rocky Mountain national Park. After you quickly read
the news you contact the newspapers and television stations in
Estes park, Denver, Boulder, and other communities nearby. If
it is in the national news you contact national news outlets.
In all cases you let them know your credentials and suggest what
you might offer, such as answers about how they survived, what
people can do to avoid the situation, and so on.
Let's look at a second example. You have a book out about
how to gamble and win, so you set alerts for phrases like, "big
winner" "lottery winner" "poker player,"
and such. You prepare some tips on how to win at various games
of chance, and observations on why some people win and others
lose. When a story comes along about a lucky winner, you contact
news outlets and tell them you are ready to comment on what happened
and offer tips and insight. Steve Harrison, who runs a "National
Publicity Summit" (and from whom I first heard about this
idea) tells the story of a man who appeared in 40 different media
outlets by using this strategy. His expertise was in dog training.
Of course, in any appearance you will be introduced as the
founder of a website or author of a book or in some way that
promotes you and your business. You should also start at least
one response to a question with something like, "As I explain
in my book (on my website)..." in order to remind people
that they can learn more from you.
Here is another strategy for cashing in on your expertise.
Set up Google Alerts in your area of expertise to locate every
relevant article, and then sent a nice email to the reporters
to build a relationship that can lead to an interview or appearance
as an expert opinion. Reporters do not get as many emails as
you might think, and not many complimentary ones (people write
to complain as often as not). At some point you will be able
to contact reporters and offer your expertise, and they will
at least recognize your name.
If you have ever tried to get a website owner to link to your
blog or site or mention your book, you know that it rarely happens.
You are just a stranger asking for a freebie after all. But if
a man or woman has a well-trafficked blog or website, you might
do a little review of it on your own blog or site, mentioning
the website name and the name of the blogger. Some of your posts
are likely to be found by way of other people's Google Alerts
if you do this enough, and this breaks the ice. The blogger might
then write something favorable about you or your site, or allow
you to do a guest post on his or her blog.
One last technique is for those readers who have a place online
(website or blog) where they offer opinions on various topics.
Set up alerts for related topics and comment on the news items
that show up. You might want to also link to your comments from
your Twitter feed and Facebook page to bolster their visibility.
The idea here is to get in the search results for related search
terms, and so bring in additional traffic.
There are undoubtedly other ways to use Google Alerts for
both publicity and for generating traffic. I will add them here
as I learn of them.