Google Alerts New Look & the Google/Twitter Impact on Social Signals

Some exciting things happened this week! Changes came to the Google Alerts dashboard – it isn’t being discontinued after all – and Twitter signed back up with Google to have tweets indexed.

Listen to today’s video to learn the deets, PR pros!

TRANSCRIPT:

Hey, this is Carrie Morgan with Rock The Status Quo. For today’s video, I really wanted to talk about Google Alerts, because for public relations professionals, they’re just a wonderful way – as a free tool – to monitor online mentions. They really haven’t been used for anything social media related because Google doesn’t index real-time social activity. They do for Google Plus, since it is their own social platform, but Twitter came and went, and we’ll talk more about that in a minute.

As far as monitoring editorial placements you get for your clients, blog posts, pick-ups of press releases and things like that, any kind of mention online, Google Alerts is absolutely fantastic. In my opinion, it’s the best free tool out there for that. Social mentions are a bit of a different conversation. If you want one platform that does both web and real-time monitoring in a paid version, Menion.com and Social Oomph are good ones.

Anyway, back to Google Alerts… I love using it for tracking client mentions online, but there have been so many rumors over the last year or so about whether Google was going to get rid of that product and I think everyone kind of collectively goes, “NOOOO, we love Google Alerts and don’t want anything to happen to them!!” The good news is that they just launched a revamp, so clearly they’re investing some time and energy in them again, which tells me they’re not going to go away any time soon. Yay! So if you haven’t taken a look at Google Alerts lately, head over and take a look at it. There are some things people love and hate about it, but it has a fresh interface.

I haven’t used it enough this week to really tell what the major differences are, but it looks pretty similar to me, at least for what I use it for. And I love it!

I use Google Alerts for monitoring competition and industry keywords, too. One of my favorite ways to use Google Alerts, other than just brand mentions for a client, is to have a list of keywords to identify potential editorial that is out there – specific keywords for topics that are hot in my client’s industry, so that I catch opportunities to inject them into conversations – when they weren’t’ mentioned in that blog post or article. The Arizona Republic website, magazines, almost all media have commenting systems on their websites now. If your client wasn’t included in a relevant article, adding a comment is a great way to inject them in the conversation, if you catch it early enough, so that they can share their thought leadership and perspective related to the article. If there’s a relevant blog post that they wrote on the same topic, you can hyperlink it right back to the blog post in your comment, which is nice. And that definitely bolsters your SEO a little bit too, as long as the link is relevant and topical.

So these are wonderful ways to use Google Alerts. If you haven’t looked at it lately, head over and look at it – set up some things to monitor and kind of play with it a little bit. And don’t forget to set up your own name to be monitored, because as a PR professional, you don’t want to just monitor the brand reputation of your clients, but your own reputation. Your personal branding is important, too. For instance, I have mine set up for my name, my Twitter handle and my business name, so I try to catch everything, regardless of how it’s mentioned. I also set up alerts for industry categories and topics – such as digital PR, since that is what I center my consultant agency around, so that’s certainly a Google Alert that I monitor. Interestingly enough, it catches more new job postings than anything else, which is a little useless. (It demonstrates interest, skill demand and growth, though, which is fantastic.)

And then I have very specific terms that I monitor – so if I’m interested in SEO, maybe I’ll be monitoring Google Panda. It’s very useful for that.

One thing that is wonderful news that came out of Google and Twitter this week is that they renewed their contract. Google will be starting to index and list tweets in search engine results again, which is wonderful. I think that kind of breathes fresh life into the whole issue of social signals.

If you don’t know what social signals are – that is the activity and engagement you’re having on social media platforms; likes and comments, shares, and things like that – and the controversy swirling around whether (and how) that impacts your search engine optimization.

There’s a lot of misinformation and rumors floating around social signals. Marketing experts place too much importance around how social signals impact SEO and completely misunderstand them. Frankly, from everything Google says, the only social signal that matters to them, of course, are their own. So the Google Plus platform. I’ve heard a lot of discussion around how Facebook and Twitter social signals make no difference whatsoever to your SEO, but I think that’s about to change. Because now that Twitter and Google have re-signed that contract and tweets are starting to be indexed again – I think that gives more importance to Twitter.

As a PR professional, what it means to you is that it’s probably worth going back and taking a fresh look at your client’s Twitter platforms, look at their bio and descriptions – do they have keywords in there? Is it an accurate, differentiating description about them? Because that will be indexed. Are they retweeting and sharing content from within their industry to help build their expertise there? If they are creating lots of fresh content, then make absolutely sure that you’re creating fresh tweets around that content. I think most companies just hook up their Twitter to their Facebook page, and let Facebook feed their Twitter stream, but that’s not a great way to use Twitter and it certainly won’t’ help you for SEO and the new indexing capability. You want to originate some original, fun and interesting tweets and start to activate that Twitter account again.

Anyway – that’s the news this week on Twitter and Google Alerts. Like I said, Google Alerts has a fresh interface – check it out! Test it out. If you’re using paid platforms, compare it to those and see what you think, and leave a comment and let me know. I hope this is helpful and have a great week!

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