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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.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

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 must admit, I had never heard of this before! Thanks, I will definitely have to check out alerts, what a great idea!

  2. Way ahead of you here, been using Google Alerts since they opened the service. Read more about it here 31DBBB Day 10: Moniter your Niche

  3. Sudeep says: 04/16/2009 at 12:27 am

    Thanks Darren ,
    Google alert was not new to me , have been using this idea for a while and have helped me a lot in getting new information to me .But technocrat wish list and twitter are defiantly new to me , so would soon join them for my niche .. thanks

  4. I just set up Google Alerts last week, but the idea of using keywords and my name never occurred to me!
    Keep the great advice coming.

  5. Good tip today! I’m looking forward to starting on this one.

  6. This is a tip that I have used often in the past and for some reason I stopped. I have set up alerts again and look forward to what they inspire me to write about. Thanks again!

  7. This is great! I just started to use Google alerts for about a week! :)

  8. For broadcast video, ClipSyndicate’s ‘advanced search’ accommodates complex boolean logic that can be saved / output as RSS for monitoring or to be published as a live channel using an embeddable flash player.

    Here’s a sample search used to create a “Natural Disaster Response” alert, with RSS output for monitoring / publishing:

    title:(tornado OR hurricane OR flooding) AND (police OR fire OR rescue)



  9. I have used Google’s Alert but Technorati Watchlists and Twitter Alert is new for me. I would definitely like to try them.

  10. While I love this series of posts, I keep finding days where I’ve already BTDT. I have all kinds of alerts coming my way every day. Well at least I can check this one done :)

  11. I watch other users a lot. They will show you the information they are looking for.

  12. I have always though this to be a waste of time. Not that it would be useless information, but literally take up all my time.
    What I do at the moment is browse through the various different news and blog sources for content.

    But I will give it a try, and see what transpires.

  13. This is a wonderful tip to increase your productivity. Instead of looking for news, it comes to you.

  14. It helps if you are a naturally curious person. I love to read anything and everything, but I do need to use filters if I want to learn a lot about one specific topic. Otherwise, I would never find up to date information in a timely manner.

  15. I’ve used Google alerts for a while and also Twitter alerts, though for some keywords I find it’s better to do an occasional online search to avoid inbox overload. I have a couple of key search terms saved in Hootsuite and check those out at least once a week.

  16. I alread do the google alert and technorati. I’ll be looking more into tweetdeck and other twitter services soon. Thanks so much for the information. This has been a great challenge, and I’m learning so much.

  17. Great tip! I signed up for seven different Google Alerts using the search terms Apple, artist, creativity, graffiti, guerilla art, public art, and technology. I set them as comprehensive, one email a day. I’m sure I’ll need to revise this as time goes on, but I’m already pleased – just received a summary for the “artist” alert, and it had some great news that I can utilize in my blog. This will really help me keep a tap on what’s going on in my niche, especially since my physical community can be somewhat culturally closed off.

    I do use the Twitter search RSS function, but receive thousands of hits and find them hard to utilize well. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other tools you mentioned to better leverage that function. I’ll be setting up a Technorati watchlist, as well.

    Thanks for a great tip, Darren!

  18. I was using Google Reader for news mostly and the only alert i was having was about my own site so I could check where it appears. It’s a very good idea to use this for monitoring what others are saying in a specific matter.

  19. I already have some alerts set up for ‘Vanity’, and a few for subjects of interest.

    But I didn’t think of setting up alerts for my typical keywords. Good thinking!

  20. By the way, I downloaded Tweetdeck and tried it, then removed it. I didn’t like the idea that it could access my system.

  21. Bravo, well said, love reading your hints and tips. I think more bloggers should. I already linked back to ya!

  22. I use Google alert but was not aware that Technorati. Thanks again for the awesome ideas!

  23. Wow, my last post topic came from Twitter! I think Twitter is a great place to monitor trends in your industry, and even to find some cohorts to bounce ideas off of.


  24. Darren – One tip I haven’t seen mentioned here that is valuable is to set a Google Alert for your twitter address – using the @ symbol. For me its @jeffkorhan.


  25. Cool. I’m done with this assignment three months ago. I’ve set up alerts in Google, Technorati, Twitter search for my name, my blog, my twitter username, my niche topics and keywords.

    But then again, I’ve been reading Chris Brogan aside from obsessing with Darren’s posts.

    The downside to this is my reader is close to bursting. With practice though scanning through these alerts become a cinch.

    Now, back to reading. lol

  26. I did used the Google Alert to find out who is talking about me.

    This is also a very good way to put yourself in the cutting edge in your niche as well.

    Go ahead with the alert things, they are good, just don’t focus too much on them, maybe set the report at once a week.


  27. I’ve been doing this for some time now, and it’s probably the number one thing that I do that will make others say “how do you find all this stuff?!?!!”. Once I tell them, they totally get it, but funny how it isn’t an obvious idea.

    Whenever I launch a website, the first alert I set for it is the domain name (without the www). This can also be used as an indication that Google is aware of the domain, and indexing should follow shortly thereafter. So it isn’t necessarily a vanity thing all the time. Sometimes you just want to know that Google has seen your content or links on other sites.

    So, for my blog, I have “waynejohn.com” as the keyword. Whenever Google alerts me and it’s found in a comment, like this one, I know that my link has been counted as a vote towards my site. (at least, that’s how I’m viewing it, the secret Google sauce on how it all really happens is still a secret).

    Cheers Darren!

  28. Hi all,

    Must say this is pretty new for me. I haven’t used alerts before. I rely on links and tweets on my twitter friends network to stay up to date with tech news.

    But this must be tried. Nice tip Darren.



  29. I’ve been doing this with myself, and with a few competitors, but have realized that I never read the google alerts that come through for competitors. I’ve modified this to include product lines, and a few keywords.

  30. Google alerts has been a tremendous asset. We use it to monitor clients we are doing PR for. I need to apply more of these strategies to my own brand.

  31. I love this post! One of the reasons I have been a VERY part time blogger is because of the fact that I do not know what to write about. Most of the time if not all of the time, my articles are inspired by a conversation with friends, or from a financial peace class where someone has specific questions.

    I just utilized Google Alerts for three keywords, and am about to check out the Twitter tool since Twitter has become such a powerful news agent.


  32. Woohoo! Finally something I already do :)

  33. Great post! Listening is very powerful and seems to be an area where we (I) always need to grow. I’ve been playing with the tools for months now and it’s definitely helped. One of the greatest things i’ve learned overall is that Listening is KEY to being successful with social media.

    Here’s some of my thoughts: http://budurl.com/twitterlistening


  34. The Twitter tools are amazing!!!! Where have I been???? This has opened up a whole new world to me!!

  35. Thanks,
    I’d never thought of this. I think some of the business bloggers are already up on this, but it is also a great asset for informational bloggers. Newswires just don’t cover topics in this way. I put in a few terms already & will be adding more later.

  36. I used google for other alerts and I thought I can only monitor news. Thanks for the tip, now I can learn what new ideas available to make money.

  37. Alerts are quite useful for monitoring what’s happening in your niche. The hard part is finding terms that don’t wind up bombarding you with alerts constantly. For instance, the broader term “real estate” would overwhelm, but “private mortgage insurance” would not.

  38. Yes, Something I already started doing. I am only monitoring with google alerts right now but I’ll have try the others you suggested as well. It’s been a great help to see what other are talking about and to find topics to write about.

    I’ll set up a technorati alert today.

    I’m all caught up. Yippie

  39. Alerts are a great tool. It’s surprizing how much spam gets picked up though – especially in the blog search. The news search alert in google tends to pick up more authoritative information – although some spammy press-release sites seem to feed in here too.

  40. Thanks for the article again.

    It is a very important task to be alerted about the niche. The use of alerts can be seen in the blog contents.

    Being alerted helps to confirm the right contents in the blog & also provide the new contents.

  41. Hi Darren,

    I have used Google Alerts for some time.

    But you have just reminded me to be even more specific in the Alerts I create. To think it more wide…

    Thank you for that!


  42. I was doing this but never got relevent results back this post got me off my butt to revise my Keywords hopefully I will get back more relevent results instead of a story about a women who had her Mountain Bike Stolen because of a Hooka Bar in her Neigborhood (actually that would have made a good post)

  43. I have found TweetBeeps (www.tweetbeeps.com) to be an invaluable Twitter alert tool because I can restrict alerts by a mileage radius to my area.

    In other words, I get email alerts from TweetBeeps only for Twitter posts from people in a certain area. Those are the people I most want to interact with.

    Also the searches can be more customized than other alert services I’ve tried.

    Even if you’re not using Twitter, you can use Twitter alerts to learn what people are saying. But it’s even more valuable if you jump into the conversation on Twitter and those people will end up checking out your blog.

    Using alerts has made my use of Twitter highly relevant and valuable.

  44. This is super helpful! I spend a lot of time (relatively speaking) surfing the web trying to find what parenting experts are discussing.

    BUT, I didn’t know there is an automatic alert system in place, which will free up some of my time or at least make it more focused and purposeful!

  45. Thanks, you went easy on us on tax day for us Americans. Great tip! http://budurl.com/5yge

  46. I use alerts on Twitter and Google. Will startTechnorati!

  47. Hi Darren,

    I user Biznar.com Alerts in addition to Google. Biznar.com catches a lot of things that Google doesn’t. It searches 5 different blog sites, including Google and Technorati- makes it really easy to just have one set of alerts!

    Thanks for the great post!

  48. You warn against becoming obsessed with this yet how can one do otherwise when one has to at least scan what’s coming in, in order to ignore what’s not relevant.

    I’m also leery of adding yet another utility to my machine.

    And, I have to admit, I’m a child of the command line and I dislike all these black boxes.

    Well, I’ll take a look anyway. At least paying atention to what folks might be saying about you is useful. ;)

  49. I’m assuming that in the Google alerts, “comprehensive” means blogs, web, video, etc.

    The mechanics are easy. Choosing key phrases to include (or not) is less so. I can think of few or many and I’m not sure which are actually worthwhile.

    BTW, I got my newsletter out today. That’s 3 in a row. Now I can think about my blog.

  50. Note that for Twitter, you can simply do a search on http://search.twitter.com/ and the results includes an RSS feed.

    Can anyone recommend a way to track tweet links? I looked at twitturly.com but it is missing important retweets I know happened.

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