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5 Ways To Link Build With Google Alerts

One of the hardest aspects of any link building campaign is maintaining a constant stream of relevant incoming links. This guide will show you how to take some of the workload off by using Google Alerts to place link building opportunities right in your lap.

What does Google Alerts do?

In a nutshell, Google Alerts will deliver you notifications of new pages that appear on the web that fit a search criteria you provide. As Google puts it, “monitor the web for interesting new content”.

Getting started with Google Alerts

If you’ve never used it before, Google Alerts is over at (would you ever guess?)


Google Alerts Set up

You’ll get a pretty simple screen like this. So let’s go through the options quickly.

Search terms: This is where you define what you want to monitor the web for. It works exactly the same as the main Google Search box you’ve used before. It is however, the most common hurdle to people using Google Alerts well. The most important thing to remember is that the Google Alerts search terms support advanced search operators.

If you don’t use search operators, it is likely that you’ll create criteria that are far too broad, resulting in a deluge of useless junk being delivered to you. The aim here is to reduce work-load, not increase it! We’ll give some examples of this later.

Type: Google Alerts gives you the option to sort through specific types of web page.



Google Alerts Set up

The type drop-down can be useful if you have a specific task, such as searching for PR releases for competitors or if you want to create specific alerts around social media discussions or blogs.

How often: How regularly you’d like the alerts delivered. You can choose “right away” if you need to catch fast moving discussions or once a day/week if you want to manage your workload and handle alerts in chunks.

Email length: If you’re having your alerts delivered by e-mail, simply how many results you want per e-mail.

Deliver to: You can have alerts delivered either to an e-mail address, or an RSS feed if you want to monitor everything in real time or use the alerts with some other automation system.

Okay, let’s move onto some examples of how Google Alerts can help you with link building.

Example #1 Monitoring for domain mentions

Idea: This alert will monitor you to when new pages mention your domain name (excluding your own site). This is a dead simple opportunity to set up and everyone should be using it. Apart from being really useful seeing what people are saying about your site, it gives you the chance to see if people are including those all important links when talking about you! (I’ve also picked up some good link sources this way).

Search Term:

Type: Everything

The search query is simply the non-www version of your domain (this will pick up people that mention both with and without the www). The most important part of this query is the minus Without this, you’ll be sent alerts everytime Google finds a new page on your own site, d’oh! You can also set up similar alerts for your brand name by adding this prior to the


Example #2 Monitoring for core services

Idea: We’re going to be specifically monitoring news results here, to reduce the noise of a million splogs we would otherwise pick up. The idea behind this alert (you can use multiple alerts) is to monitor for news items that mention your niche / core services on an as-it-happens basis. Once you find these news stories, scan read them for accuracy and have a think about what the article is missing (shouldn’t be too hard if you’re an expert in your niche). The opportunity here is to quickly provide a content source that the news item needs, then phone/e-mail the author and provide them with a link to the data you’ve compiled or article you’ve written that will improve theirs.

Search Term: “core service” e.g. “search engine optimisation”

Type: News

How Often: As-it-happens

The important thing about this alert is that you use the quotation marks to phrase match your search query to stop you being bombarded by results.


Example #3 Big brother engagement

Idea: You can use Google Alerts to tactically drop yourself (and a link) into a million different conversations. This alert requires some work but is well worth the effort. Depending on how busy your niche is, you may be able to get away with an “everything” alert, or you might have to trim it down to “discussions”. The idea is to set up multiple alerts for specific questions that are common in your niche, so you’ll get the alert when people are asking these questions on forums or resources such as Yahoo! Answers (yes, I’m aware that one is nofollowed).

Search Term: “what is the best underwater camera” (use your imagination!)

Type: Everything / discussions

How Often: As-it-happens

Again, it’s a good idea to use the quotation marks to only pick up exact phrases, otherwise you’ll be getting quite a few e-mails!


Example #4 Competitor monitoring

Idea: If you’re neck and neck with a competitor for search rankings, set up an alert monitoring for their domain and company mentions. Not only will this give you the inside track on what they’re putting out there, but it’s likely to reveal their precious link resources without having to dig through thousands of backlinks.

Search Term: “competitor name”

Type: Everything

How Often: As-it-happens


Example #5 Monitor your own site for viruses

Idea: This is more about stopping competitors building links from your site :) This is a great little tip that can give you a quick heads up if your site has been compromised and hidden links injected.

Search Term: viagra cialis (etc, etc)

How Often: As-it-happens

Nice and simple site: query followed by a blacklist of words you would never expect to see on your site. So, if you get one of these alerts, you know something fishy is going on.


Get creative and stay alert!

I’ve given a small handful of ideas on how you can use Google Alerts with your SEO campaigns. There’s actually hundreds of different types of alerts you can set up to help you along the way, so get thinking!


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  • Yousaf Sekander / 11 years ago

    Good stuff Mark!

    This technique works really well with social media as well. i.e you can add Google Alert's rss feed to Twitterfeed to attract Twitter followers - same can be done on Facebook.

  • Rob / 11 years ago

    Some great ideas, I use Google Alerts for getting up to date related news, but never thought about using it for this. Cheers!

  • Geoff / 11 years ago

    Kind of related to #1. Use Google alerts to monitor brand mentions to pick up on link opportunities the PR team might have missed.

  • Nikki / 11 years ago

    I also use Google alerts for various industry related stuff and I find them very useful but you've given me some more good ideas, so thank you.

    p.s. Spell check your articles!

  • Kevin / 10 years ago

    I use Google alerts to keep on track of what my competitors are doing as well as latest news in my industry.

  • CornishHosting / 10 years ago

    We use google alert to keep us with the latest news about web hosting


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