Google Alerts is a free tool provided by Google to enable anyone to set up certain keywords in which to conduct continuous searches that will be emailed to you based on the criteria you have set up.  For instance, if you’re in the business of making electromagnetic widgets you can set up an alert for “electromagnetic widgets” to come to you instantly upon the crawler finding the keyword mentioned anyplace they might be crawling.

 

It is recommended that you set up separate alerts for each keyword, including the variations of each, instead of having one huge list of keywords for each search. In this way, you can easily determine which keywords are returning the right results and delete the alerts that do not work for you. When you set up your alerts always set up one with the name you use on the net for both your personal life and for your business life. For instance, if you use your middle initial in your authors block, then it’s important to set up the alert that way too. Be specific for the most accurate alerts.

As you set up each alert, determine how often you need to know the information. When it comes to your personal name, and your business name, you probably want to know immediately when something is mentioned about you on the Internet. But, when it comes to simple industry keywords, you likely do not need to know every single day, immediately, any alerts to do with that keyword. Set these up to be sent to you less often. It is highly recommended that you open up a Google email account only for this service so that you are not distracted, and can deal with alerts during the times of the day and week that you’ve set aside for that task.

 

If you need to set aside time for each different type of alert. Naturally you want to deal with direct mentions of your business name, or personal name, every day. You don’t need to deal with it the moment it comes through to your inbox, but you do want to pick a time of day where you have about 20 to 30 minutes to deal with the mentions. Click through on the alerts to see what the link is really showing. If it’s a post about you and / or your products and you can comment on it, do so. If it’s positive, share it with everyone throughout all your networks and ask your network to do the same.

 

If you find a negative comment, post, or situation read it thoroughly and do as much research as you can on the person doing the negative action before responding. Also, even if the negativity upsets you consider whether it has any validity to it or not. Even the most irate negative reviews can give you insight on how to better serve your clients. Consider how to respond to the negative review carefully. Most of the time, if it is a person who has bought a product or service from you the best thing you can do is return their money and apologize. If the  negative person is a professional hit man then you may have another problem and need to bury them with positive reviews, positive mentions, and positive articles.

 

Using Google to manage your online reputation costs nothing more than time, but if you don’t have time and you find that you have a lot more alerts than you can deal with consider hiring a virtual assistant that only deals with these situations. A good VA can wade through all the alerts, deal with those that are most important, send over the ones you must deal with yourself, and keep you from overwhelm. However you do it, Google Alerts is truly a wonderful tool that Google provides to you free of charge.

About John McKenna, MBA

John McKenna, MBA - Business Consistency Strategist and renowned “Business Reputation” Expert. John has a natural gift for helping business owners and service professionals incorporate time-tested, proven systems, strategies and tools to get more customers/clients (consistently) and grow their business. For 20 years now, he has helped companies (from large corporations to small local businesses to independent contractors) come from the depths of debt to become thriving profitable businesses. Mc Kenna is the founder of Apex Business Success – a division of the McKenna Consulting Group – a full service marketing & advertising firm which specializes in helping small businesses & service professionals implement the Business Blueprint Marketing System into their business. He is also the creator of Reputation Boost - a platform and service designed to effectively & quickly build, protect & market a 5-Star business reputation.