Free real-time brand monitoring with Google Alerts and a Feed Reader

by Rudi Gabriel Bedy

There are lots and lots of tools with which you can monitor your brand, paid and free. Google Alerts mixed with a Feed Reader or e-mail notifications is one of the oldest methods I use and it is still a very good one.

It is good because it’s using Google data directly and in real-time. These two tools combined are great if you want to monitor everything related to your brand and respond in real-time to new blog-posts or discussions on forums.

So, let’s see how you can set-up this real-time monitoring tool. I will use Coca-Cola for this example.

The Google Alerts Set-up

Step 1

Go to http://www.google.com/alerts

Step 2

Enter your Search Query Keyword, it can be:

  • Your Brand or your product name ( Coca-Cola Company or Coca-Cola or Coke Zero or Fanta or Sprite)
  • A competitor brand or product name ( Pepsi or Diet Pepsi or Pepsi One or RC Cola or Mirinda or  7UP)
  • A general name of the product created by your industry (Cola or Diet Cola or Orange Juice or Refreshing  Drink)

Let’s choose Coca-Cola for this example.

Step 3

It’s time to select what kind of search results you are most interested in. You can choose to have Everything, just the News, Blogs, Videos or just Discussions. I recommend choosing one which you are most interested in or if you want more than one just make different alerts for each one. It looks better and you can track better what kind of content is generated most.

I will select Discussions to see what people are talking about Coca-Cola.

Step 4

Now you have to choose how often you want to see what’s new. You can choose from Once a Day or Week or you can choose to get the alerts as they show-up in the search engine, “As-it-happens”. If you go with “As-it-happens” and your brand is very well-known and discussed about, I don’t recommend to get the alerts on e-mail as you might get hundreds or thousands in few minutes.

In Coca-Cola’s case we will go with “As-it-happens“,

Step 5

In the next step you have to select how often you want to get the alerts. It depends very much on how big the brand is, but it also depends on how much information you want to see. If the brand is big like Coca-Cola and you are interested also in discussions on small forums then you will go with “All results“, but if you are interested in big forums then you will select “Only the best results”. This is different for the other categories News, Blogs or Videos. In the videos case, it will show you only the ones published by big accounts or it will show you viral videos.

For this example we select “All results“.

Step 6

In this step you have to select if you want to get it as a feed or if you want to get it on your e-mail address. As I said previously, if you have chosen “All results” and “As it happens” you should go with the feed.

Step 7

At this point you can see all the alerts that you have set-up. In the screenshot below, I have several keywords in different categories. This helps you have all the feeds organized by categories.

By clicking on the Google Reader icon, you will be redirected to your Google Reader account where you can subscribe to the feed. Of course you are also able to get the feed link directly by clicking on the feed icon and import it to your favorite reader.

Step 8

Now you have to wait for the feed to update as new search results appear. Google alerts is not showing search results that appeared before setting it up and it will take some time for something to show up.

 

For what can it be used?

There are several reasons to use this, I give you 6:

  • First of all to monitor your brand in real-time and respond where necessary.
  • If your company produces software, you can track warez websites and report to download websites.
  • To monitor discussions or articles on a topic of interest all over the internet.
  • To monitor your competition: their content or people talking about them.
  • To monitor specific keywords on which your brand SEO strategy focuses and take action if there is an opportunity or threat.
  • To monitor blogs where they posted an article about your brand and create a relationship with the blogger.

Of course this can be used in many ways depending on the needs. This is a very effective monitoring tool if you company lacks budget. The drawback of Google Alerts is that it doesn’t aggregate Social Networks data.