By Princess Jones

Monitoring your image online is a crucial part of protecting your brand. You may choose to amplify, rebut or ignore mentions of you or your brand online. But if you don’t know, you can’t handle the situation effectively.

Google Alerts is a tool that sends you emails when the phrase you set appears online. I’ve used it for my brands throughout the years with great success. Google Alerts has let me know when I’m mentioned on other websites or blogs. It has even alerted me to a website that was giving out free copies of my definitely-not-free book. And while it’s a “set it and forget it” tool, it’s important that you set Google Alerts up correctly to benefit from it.

Be Specific

Google Alerts are only as helpful as the term you choose to search. Be as specific as possible. A good place to start is your own name. Your brand’s name is another good starting point. Put quotation marks around the name to indicate that you would like to pull results that show the exact phrase. You can also place a minus sign in front of any term you don’t want to show up in your results. I have my own name “Princess Jones” as a search term but I had to also add “-cupcake” because there’s a popular children’s book called “Princess Cupcake Jones” that often gets mixed in with my results.

Choose the Right Type of Alert

Sometimes people complain about Google Alerts not giving them enough results. Others complain about them giving them every stray mention on the Internet. These are actually a function of the “how many” option. You can either choose to return “top results” or “everything.” It’s an important choice, too, because it will determine how useful your Google Alerts are. For example, if you have a brand name that is also a common phrase, choosing the everything option is going to bring back a lot of irrelevant results. Go for top results instead. On the other hand, if you have an unusual name or phrase to search, go with the everything option to catch all of the minor stuff, too.

Bundle Your Alerts

Another frequent complaint about Google Alerts is that it causes too much email. None of us need any more clutter in our inboxes. So instead of letting these alerts come in multiple times a day, choose the option to have them come in once a day or once a week. You’ll get a list of alerts in one email instead of as they come in. This means you won’t get them in real time but real time is sometimes overrated.

Google Alerts is a great reputation management tool for protecting your brand online. What tools do you use to track mentions of your business?