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Set Up ‘Alerts’ to Monitor What is Happening in Your Niche [Day 10 – 31DBBB]

Posted By Darren Rowse 15th of April 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This post is an excerpt from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook

AlertI’m often asked by friends, family and readers how I spend my time on an average day of blogging.

Those asking are often surprised to hear that while ‘writing‘ is one definitely one activity that I do a fair bit of that there are quite a number of other activities that take up quite a bit of my focus.

One such important activity that I spend considerable time on as a blogger is ‘watching’, ‘monitoring’, ‘listening to’ and ‘reading’ what others are writing on their blogs or social media accounts.

Reasons to Be Aware of What Others are Talking About in Your Niche

There are quite a few reasons that bloggers monitor what’s being said on other blogs and in the news on certain topics. These include:

1. Ideas for Posts – one of the main challenges that bloggers face at different times is running out of things to blog about. Keeping abreast of what others are writing about gives you an almost unlimited supply of ideas and helps you to keep your posts on topic with what is buzzing in your niche at any given point of time.

2. Awareness of Breaking News – this is more relevant for some niches than others but sometimes knowing when a story is breaking in your industry can be very important. Being unaware of such stories can make your blog look out of touch to readers wanting to know the latest.

3. Profile Building and Perceived Expertise – bloggers who are obviously aware of what else is happening in their niche are often seen as experts and authorities in their industry. I know of a number of bloggers and twitter users who’ve built profiles for themselves simply by having their finger on the pulse of their niche and linking to interesting and useful content on other sites.

4. Networking – using some of the ‘alert’ tools below enables you to know who is talking about issues relevant to your niche within a short time of them doing so. This enables you to make connections and build relationships with these people.

5. Reputation Management – knowing quickly when others are talking about you, your company, your brands and your blog is valuable information as it enables you to not only build relationships with those who are saying positive things about you but also manage negative talk.

There are other reasons to be aware of what people are saying in your niche – but lets move on to some of the ‘how to do it’.

Today your task is to set up a variety of ‘alerts’ or ‘watch lists’ for your blog’s niche.

There are many services around to help you keep track of what people are writing. I’d love you to suggest those that you use in comments below – but here are a handful that I regularly use:


  • Google News and Blog Alerts Google’s alerts will show you any mention of keywords in only ‘news’ sources (for example newspapers), on blogs, in videos, on the ‘web’ or even in their ‘groups’. You can choose to be alerted about different categories or for them all. It gives you the opportunity to get alerts via an email or RSS feed at different intervals.
  • Technorati Watchlists – Very similar to Google Alerts as it’ll feed you mentions of certain words on blogs.
  • Twitter Alerts – there are a lot of tools to help you monitor what is being said on Twitter. Some are built into twitter clients (for example TweetDeck has a great one) but others include Monitter (allows live monitoring but also gives you an RSS feed for words), Twendz, Twitter’s Search (you can set up an RSS feed for any keyword) and Twitter Hawk (a paid service that allows you not only to monitor but respond to tweets on keywords). Again, there are many others that you can use – feel free to suggest others below.

As mentioned above – there are many tools around to do this type of monitoring. The key is to find one or two that fit with your style and rhythm of blogging and to regularly check them.

Types of ‘alerts’ to set up:

Lastly – let me outline a few types of alerts to set up. These are the two that I most commonly set up:

1. Industry Words – these are words relevant to your blog’s niche. For example if you blog about the wedding industry you might like to monitor words like ‘wedding dress’. If you blog about Britney Spears – you’ll want to be watching for any use of her name. The key is to find keywords that highlight when stories are breaking about your industry but ones that don’t overwhelm you with results.

2. Vanity Alerts – these are keywords that are specifically relevant to you. They include your personal name, your blog’s name, company name, brand names and even URLs.

Warning – Monitor in Moderation

Let me finish with a word of warning. Don’t become obsessed with monitoring what OTHERS are saying.

While I do believe it can significantly enhance a blog to be aware of what others are doing online in that space – it can also become a distraction (if not an obsession). The key with all tasks of blogging is to do them in a balanced way. Set up some ‘alerts’ today – keep an eye upon them – but don’t forget to actually do some writing yourself instead of just watching what others write!

Update: See what others are saying at the Day 10 – Set up Alerts to Monitor Your Blogs Niche forum thread!

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

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About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. i have been use that tools… amazing i have a lot of benefit by using that tools

  2. I guess this is only a first step but I did the following: created all sorts of RSS feeds for some keywords (madagascar, malagasy, madafan, travel) and put them on newsgator RSS reader (I prefere this one as newsgator client for blackberry is better than Google reader IMHO). alerts set for:
    – google alerts
    – technorati watchlist
    – search.twitter.com
    – tripadvisor.com Madagascar forums

  3. This is really helpful. I do keep a tab on what’s happening mostly by reading other blogs, but the tools you’ve laid out here makes research a lot more easy.

  4. I wouldn’t know where to start. I don’t know that personal blogging is a niche that lends itself to the kinds of monitoring you are talking about here.

  5. Hi Darren, excellent post. I have used Twitter search to find conversations as well as Google Alerts. Google Alerts is a fabulous tool, isn’t it?

    Not that this other tool is an alert, but I’ve also used Yahoo! Answers to find conversations and questions floating around others might have.

  6. Sulaiman Alhasawi says: 04/18/2009 at 8:20 am

    Thanks for The google alert tip

  7. I personally love Google Alerts. I actually get a lot of traffic to my blog for companies that have Google Alerts set up for their company names. This post encouraged me to set up a couple more alerts. Thanks.

  8. Thanks Darren,

    I was not aware of these tools except Google alerts. I will start to look into these other tools right away.

  9. I use the alerts that you suggested and have done so for some time. In addition, I watch certain colleagues or competitors and have discovered some cool social media sites or new resources because of that strategy.

    I also find my RSS Reader to be a valuable source for keeping an eye on the pulse of things–you can put Google Alerts right into that feed which makes it a bit interesting and easier to scan.

  10. Getting The Scoop

    We found that Tweetdeck is the way to go for searching twitter. You can setup multiple keyword phrase searches in tweetdeck. The extra benefit of having this on your desktop is that you can be the first to retweet great tweets and get the retweet scoop.

    Another great tool to get scoops is the google desktop trends gadget. It’s great for getting the scoop on what the general population are searching for in google at any given moment. A topic in your niche may appear one day.

    Another idea we implemented was to setup an RSS feed monitoring the latest releases of books in our niche in Amazon. You can be the first to blog about a new book in your niche. To do this go to Amazon and just go to the book category covering your niche and subscribe to the RSS feed.


    Hot New Releases in Books
    Any Category > Books > Health, Mind & Body
    gives http://www.amazon.com/gp/new-releases/books/10/ref=pd_nr_b_nav
    RSS is http://www.amazon.com/rss/new-releases/books/10/ref%5Cx3dpd_nr_rss_link

    You could also use Amazon RSS feeds monitor for new products or hot products in your niche not only books.

  11. I’ve practiced this alert for quit some time now and I love this function very much. It keeps me up to date with everything that I want.

    Sometime my friends wonder how come I always know what’s happening all the time…haha….

    Now, I’m also into sciencedirect.com alert and scopus.com alert.

  12. I like the warning !!! Sometimes I just trapped in searching what people talk about my niche, till I forget to write on my own blog :P

  13. Yes, I use the Google Alerts, and also subscribe via RSS and put them on Google Homepage. I prefer putting them on Google Homepage so that I will see them right away when I sign on to my Gmail. :)

    I have Twitter alerts too. I have yet to check out Technorati Checklist, though. Will let you know when I do.

    Haven’t tried also the vanity alert. LOL. Hmm, maybe I should!

    Thanks for this helpful tip, as always. :)

  14. Hi Folks,

    Don’t underestimate the power of alerts but like Darren says be careful with monitoring those alerts, in the past I became distracted and other aspects of my blogging suffered. Never cool, find balance but content creation is essential for ones growth and success.


  15. Hi Darren,
    Thanks for this great tip! I am going to set this up asap.
    I also have yet to check out Technorati . Thanks, too, for the warning. ;-)
    Much appreciated!

  16. great
    new thing to learn
    thank you Darren

  17. My blog can be found at http://artquiltmaker.com/blog. It is about creativity and design using fabric and quilts.

    I set up Tweetdeck today in order to monitor those I follow more consistently. I found a couple of tweets I had missed that were really helpful in updating my Creative Prompts page.

  18. well I another new tip, it will be interesting to see what happens next : )

  19. Hi this is a good article and very usefull.Keep doing the good job.
    Thanks again.

  20. I have been monitoring for about 6 mos now. This article helps me refine my monitoring a bit better. I have added a couple more things to monitor in my niche.

  21. In addition to Google alerts, I use these two services, which send me similar kinds of alerts, but from Twitter entries:
    http://www.twilert.com/ and http://tweetbeep.com/
    I’ve had more success with Twilert, but I like both of them.

  22. Already using Google Alerts for key words and Google Reader for blog and new service contact within my area of intrest. The Google Alerts can get overwhelming particularly if you’re looking for names. For instance if I set up an alert for LeBron James I can get content for the Cavs star, plus content for Lebron Johnson or Jesse James so the alert has to be worded pretty tightly.

  23. what other writing just a source of more Ideas not to be copied .. so you have to let your personal touch..

  24. Hey Darren

    Thanks for the tips. Been using Google alerts for a while now and Tweetdeck as well.

    I also watch some relevant blogs on my blogger watchlist and I have started using FeedDemon which I find really good.

    That just about keeps me out of trouble for monitoring.

  25. I’ve been using Google Alerts for my own name and blog name, but you’ve reminded me to add other industry words like “Christian Fitness.”

  26. Hey Darren,

    Great with the Google Alerts, I wasn’t aware of that service. Im using it extensively now – With RSS feeds its great!


  27. Something to chew on: If you participate in a blog that is relevant to your niche and possibly your blog’s competition, is that potentially harmful (since you’re sort of helping build their community)?

  28. Well, at least this is one thing I’ve been proactively doing right.

  29. This was great — I had never done this before and wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been ‘assigned’ to me. It’s amazing how much info is out there…. Just waiting for us.

  30. Hi,

    I’ve been using Google Alerts for about 6 months now and they have been very useful. I first used them to allow me to find new or interesting things to Twitter about. Since starting this course I now use them to (i) summarise in a weekly link post, (ii) find relevant blog posts to comment on and subscribe to and (iii) for ideas for new posts.

    I subscribe to the RSS feed for Twitter mentions on my keyword but find the quantity overwhelming so am using it less and less.

    I’ve not heard of Technorati Watchlists so will go and check this out now.

    Cheers, Chloe

  31. Unlike most everyone else, I am not finding these to be very useful at all. Mostly they are a distraction. Blogging is not my life. Rather it is an adjunct to my life as a self-representing, independent artist. I don’t want to spend my time reading a gazillion blogs no matter how appropos all of them may be. And lets face it, with the size of the pool of bloggers, there are a lot of opportunities to encounter interesting and relevant blogs!

    One must find other criteria or one will be at the computer reading forever… ;)

  32. Google Alerts are my favorite. Especially for monitoring web mentions about myself or my brand.

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