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As SEOs, we are always on the lookout for new link opportunities for our clients, some of which can sometimes be right under our nose. Sniffing out these opportunities using Google Alerts will be a useful resource for any search engine optimization campaign. Let’s look at some opportunities that the Google Alert service can help you identify.

How to Set up Google Alerts

In a nutshell, Google Alerts are updates sent to your Gmail account that let you know about the most recent Google results based on queries you want to stay informed on. Here is how to get started:

  1. Sign into your Gmail account
  2. Go into “Account settings.” Click on “Alerts” directly beneath “My products”
  3. Let Google know the search queries you want to be alerted about, (for most SEO campaigns this will be targeted keywords and branded terms)
  4. Set how often you want to receive these alerts
  5. Set up a quality filter preference (how many), this can be handy in that alerts can quickly clutter up an inbox
  6. Tell Google where to deliver your alerts. This is useful if you have an address you use exclusively for clients
  7. Click on “Create Alert”














The other day as I was reviewing a client’s Gmail inbox, I came across the usual three to eight alerts I receive daily (this can also be set to as-it-happens and once a week) for the keywords and branded terms I want to stay current on. The first Google Alert I opened, led me to a blog post that had been flagged because it contained the query “cocktail dresses,” (Google loves to crawl and index content!). The first thing that came to mind was to see if this blog met my criteria for a guest blog post opportunity. In this case, the blog didn’t have the authority and social following that I like to see before reaching out, but it did allow me to place a well thought-out comment that was relevant to the topic of post. While the link was no-follow (doesn’t pass link juice), search engines still index the comment. These types of links still hold value if they come from a relevant, related site. It’s also a good opportunity to increase brand awareness because Google will associate the comment and content of the blog with the link pointing back to your client’s site.


Forum Commenting

The next Google Alert I opened led me to a website where it had found the keyword “vintage clothing” in a question posted on Yahoo Answers. As it turns out, a Yahoo community member was looking for a great place online to shop for vintage clothing. Bingo! It just so happens I know of one. I responded by letting the member know about my client’s collection of vintage clothing and dresses and included a URL in my response. Not only was this a great opportunity to increase my client’s brand awareness, but also to take a potential customer to the exact page on my client’s site where she can find the products she is looking for.

Product Reviews

The next alert I opened was flagged for the keyword “rockabilly dresses.” One of the results led me to a fashion blog that had a high PageRank, domain authority and a large social following. As I navigated through the site, I came across a guest post letting me know that the site owner might be open to the possibility of another one. I proceeded to contact the blog owner who responded the next day saying that while she isn’t accepting guest posts at this time, she would be interested in doing a product review. As luck would have it, my client is open to giving away products in exchange for reviews (keeping SEO optimization in mind of course) and hence a mutually beneficial relationship is born.

Sizing up Your Competition

The next alert I clicked on was flagged for the keyword “vintage dresses” and led me to the vintage dresses page on a competitor’s website. While I won’t be requesting a link or a guest blog post, it does gives me an opportunity to take a closer look at a their site, analyze their backlinks, and look for new link opportunities. In this case, I found some great blogs I will be contacting for potential guest blog posts. These alerts are also handy to get a feel for topics or keywords that are trending in your client’s industry as well as for ideas to create content around.

Public Relations and Reputation Management

Using Google News Alerts is a good way to keep an eye on the great (or not so great) things people are saying about your clients on the web and can be a valuable tool and resource for any reputation management campaign. It’s an easy way to stay updated on any recent news, industry events, conferences, summits, etc., that your client is involved in and forgot to mention. These can turn into an opportunity for a press release or a blog post. You want to keep people in the know about the all the great things your client is doing!

Business Directories and Listings

Using Google Alerts can also lead you to business directories and listings that are specific to your clients industry or niche. These types of relevant links can help to build the overall authority of your website.

While not all alerts are going to be link opportunities, if you’re willing to dig a little you might be surprised at what you’ll find. Let me know about anything I might have missed or share a success story of your own from using Google Alerts in the comments below.