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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13 Responses to “Using Google Alerts for Keyword Research”

  1. Awesome post. What are your thoughts about growing a business based on a sort of “negative” reputation, like the Rich Jerk or someone? A lot of people don’t like the guy, which he’s perfectly proud about of course. Maybe that’s a separate issue since he is performing some possibly unethical marketing tactics, but still legal nonetheless.
    BTW I love your blog!

    • @Celik, yeah sometimes that can work – depends on the industry, he he. There’s a cafe here in Vancouver called the Elbow Room that’s famous for insulting customers.

  2. I use these all the time. They come in very handy for many different reasons especially reputation management.

  3. You have to pick up the nearest same search volume but less competitive key phrases in promoting your site.

  4. I use google alerts for reputation management. I didn’t think of using it for an adwords campaign. As always, thanks for the great information.

  5. Small ecommerce retailers also can use Google Alerts for link building.

  6. Wow this easy way for doing your work, so Google alert is the solution. Nice to get this information, so we just go to Google.com/alerts and set up an alert, and waiting Google to send alerts as often as we already choose with the links to where our phrase appeared. that easy method, how long until Google send back our alert? Thanks guys.

  7. Im Lover says:

    This is a brilliant idea. Got some questions for your blog setting. Hope you can help to answer.

    1. How do you add the subscription section at the bottom of your post. Is it designed by your theme or using some plugin? if it is a plugin? What’s the name of it?

    2. What’s the name of your related post plugin?

    3. Why do you set your url like yourdomain.com/post title/? what’s the difference between it with yourdomain.com/category name/post title/? Which one is better for SEO purpose?

    THX

  8. Im Lover says:

    Hi Linda,

    Thanks for your quick response and clear answer. Still got other questions hope you can help to answer.

    1. Some body says use /category name/post title/ can reduce duplicate content issue. Their method is different with yours but the reason is the same. Why ?

    2.For some posts, the writer may put it into more than two categories, will it cause duplicate content issue if the url setting like yours?

    3. My blog has been indexed by Google. May I still switch it from /category name/post title/ to /post title/?

    4. BTW, I saw you doesn’t use feedburner to manager your RSS Subscription. Is there any special reason?

    Thanks

  9. Im Lover says:

    Hi Linda,

    I am still waiting for your answer. Pls kindly help to answer my above questions. THX

    • 1. Some body says use /category name/post title/ can reduce duplicate content issue. Their method is different with yours but the reason is the same. Why ?

      I don’t believe this will reduce duplicate content, the problem exists because the content can live under multiple categories, like Ecommerce and SEO, for example. The content will be spidered under both category pages. Better to specify a canonical version, and I believe it’s better to strip out the category name for another reason – usability. It’s easier to read the shorter URL and it may attract higher click through in search engines.
      http://www.getelastic.com/canonical-url-tag/
      http://www.getelastic.com/short-urls/

      2.For some posts, the writer may put it into more than two categories, will it cause duplicate content issue if the url setting like yours?

      Yes, it’s possible that there is duplicate content because I have content under multiple categories. However, I typically change the posts to have a preview only after a few days, so the category page will only show the first couple paragraphs of each post as a “preview”, the whole page will appear only under the permalink URL. I’m not too worried about duplicate content because it’s all content on my own site, not across other sites (though my blog gets scraped a lot, Google finds the content on my site first). Google will show the content and select which page it has indexed from my site to return in search engines. It’s more likely to select my permalink page if the keyword search matches content in the body, below that introduction text. In the rare case it shows the category page, that sucks, but I think that’s rare for a blog.

      3. My blog has been indexed by Google. May I still switch it from /category name/post title/ to /post title/?

      If you decide to change any URLs, be prepared to do a lot of 301 (permanent) redirects – for every single page! This is crucial any time you change a URL that holds the same content. If you’ve been blogging for a long time, my opinion is to keep the structure you have rather than switch it over because it’s not going to have a huge impact on SEO to not have categories in your URLs. But it might negatively impact you for a while if you all of a sudden change your URL names.

      4. BTW, I saw you doesn’t use feedburner to manager your RSS Subscription. Is there any special reason?

      I used to use Feedburner but there were some limitations to its functionality, so we switched to the Aweber service.

  10. The issue I have with Google alerts is that I can’t seem to get phrase matching. For example, if I plug in “Media Firm in Orange County” (this is just an example) and deliver the results to my Google reader I’ll get content that contains all words on the page, but not as a phrase. It seems quotes should recognize the keywords as a keyword phrase but apparently they do not.

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