Using Google Alerts for Keyword Research

Google Alerts ping you every time new occurrences of the keywords you track are found by Google’s search robots. This is great for reputation management (tapping into what’s being said about you, your brand or your competitors online) but it’s also a handy tool for keyword research.

For example, I’m subscribed to Google Alerts for the Vancouver 2010 mascots Quatchi, Sumi, Miga and Muk Muk. We’re buying these terms in Google Adwords and using the broad match type so it’s important to do exhaustive negative keyword research. Even though these are fairly specific terms, and we’d like to think all searches including these keywords are looking for merchandise — truth is there are a lot of other reasons someone might include “sumi” or “miga” in a search engine.

Over time I’ve discovered negative matches that my keyword research tools missed:

  • Andrew Miga (journalist)
  • Motherson Sumi Systems Ltd
  • White Snow Sumi Brushes
  • Sumi Ink Painting
  • MUK: Muk (EP)
  • MIGA-World Bank
  • Western Sumi Student’s Union
  • Sumi Salad

Negative matches: -andrew -motherson -systems -white -snow -brush -ink -painting -world bank -western -students -union -salad

The tough one is Muk, the self-titled album by the artist MUK. Negative matching “muk” to “muk” won’t work unless I phrase match the keyword “Muk muk” or -ep -album.

It only takes a couple minutes a week to stay on top of this small list. Certainly you wouldn’t want to be alerted every time someone mentions “iPhone” or “skinny jeans” – but for unique terms this works well.


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