Google Alerts: What Are They and How Can They Grow Your Home Business

How Google Alerts Can Keep You Informed and Bring You Traffic

Google News and Alerts
••• Credit: John Lamb | Getty Images

What are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts are emailed notifications of news items related to your requested search terms. For example, you can set an alert to let you know when your name or business name is used by another online resource.

While it's not impossible to have your website as a Google Alert source, most of the notifications sent by Google are blog posts and media-generated articles (i.e. online newspapers). Why? Because the purpose of Google Alerts is to notify people of recent news. Static websites that don't change, aren't usually providing current news, and so aren't generally included in Google Alerts.

Why Sign Up for Google Alerts?

There are many great ways you can use Google Alerts to stay informed, expand awareness of your business, and drive traffic to your site. Here are a few things you can do with Google Alerts:

  1. Be notified when your name, business name, or website URL are used so you know when others are talking about you. 
  2. Monitor specific content on your site If you have a signature piece of content, you can set up an alert to let you know when other sites link to it.
  3. Be kept up-to-date on current news and trends in your industry. If you're a blogger, this can help you know what sorts of things to write about. If you're trying to build your expertise in an area, sharing this content on social media indicates you're in the know. 
  1. Find out what your competition is doing. You can set alerts to your competitors names, and receive notification when they're mentioned in the news.
  2. Find freelance work or jobs. You can set an alert to notify you of new jobs with a specific company, or a type of job you're looking for. Since most job sites are indexed by Google, you can set an alert for "freelance graphic design job" or whatever type of work you want, and chances are, you'll receive a notification when jobs pop up on freelance and job sites.
  1. Locate guest writing or blogging opportunities. You can set Google Alerts to let you know when sites are looking for articles in your topic. For example, you can set an alert, "write for us" widgets (or the topic you want to write about), and Google will let you know when a widget site indicates it takes guest posts.
  2. Find link building opportunities. Many blogs use plugins that will link back to your last post (i.e. Comment Luv). You can add Google alert to let you know about sites in your topic area that use these plugins, so you can leave a comment. For example: widgets "comment luv enabled"
  1. Get notified about sales and discounts. You can set alerts to let you know about new coupon and discount codes, and sales or promotions.

How to Sign up for Google Alerts

To receive Google Alert notifications, you'll need a Google account, which will not only get you access to its alert service, but to all of Google's products (i.e. Gmail, YouTube, etc). Visit Google Alerts to create or login to your Google account. From there you can enter the alert keyword terms you want to receive notification on, and indicate how often you want to alerted. 

When using phrases as your keyword topic, be sure to quotes around it. For example, if you wanted to receive alerts on home business news, enter "home business" where you put your topic. This is true for your name and business name as well. However, one word keywords do not need quotes. 

How to Get Your Site or Blog Included in Google Alerts

To be listed in Google News (so that your site can be sent as an alert), your site must meet the following qualifications: 

  • Provide timely newsworthy content.
  • Provide original content (no curated or aggregated content). If you have some curated/aggregated content, you need to show separation of your original content.
  • Provide accountability and transparency. You need to have author info and contact information easily found on the site. 
  • Can't misrepresent information.
  • Easily readable content. 

Second, sites must pass technical requirements:

  • Unique and permanent URLs.
  • Include HTML links with anchor text of a few words.
  • HTML pages (no PDF or non-HTML formats)
  • Pages include Metatags or Robots.txt so Google can crawl the site.

    The first step in getting your site listed in Google Alerts is to find out if it's already included in Google News. To do that, in Google Search, type in "Site:" and your domain name, then click on the "News" tab under the search box. For example:

    If your site isn't included, but it meets the requirement above, you can request to be added to Google News. First, make sure you meet all of Google's Webmaster Guidelines, then visit the Google News Publishing Center to ask for your site to be added. 

    There's no guarantee you site will be included, but if you continue to meet the news and webmaster guidelines, you can request to be added again in the future.