Google Alerts for Authors: Not Just for Book Marketing
Google Alerts is a free and easy way to begin monitoring your online presence. In less than 5 minutes, you can set up alerts to monitor what is being said about you. Is it perfect? No. And we have some other tools you can try.

Google Alerts for Authors: Not Just for Book Marketing

Google Alerts is a snap to use and delivers immediate value for anyone, especially authors. In the time it takes you to read this article, you can set up and begin benefiting from one of the top “listening tools” available.

All you need is a free Google account, and who doesn’t have one of those?

Why authors need Google Alerts

The old-school way to describe Alerts is that it is a clipping service. Years ago, before the internet was the center of our communications, people would manually monitor print and electronic media for the mention of keywords.

Alerts does the same thing for free, and far more quickly and thoroughly, by “listening” for those keywords in the vast collection of information that Google indexes on the internet.

There are a few ways authors can use this service. For example:

  1. Monitor personal information: references to your name, company, book title, characters, website.
  2. Monitor competitive information: other authors, comparable books, business competitors.
  3. Monitor news, information, ideas: events, dates, specific news sources, subjects central to your book’s topic.

Any search term you can imagine can be monitored, automatically, and you’ll be notified by email.

How to set it up

Visit and sign in to get started (you may already be signed in if you use Gmail or one of the many other Google tools).

Quick start: Typing in a search term or word will display a preview of the results for that term. If that’s of interest, you can click the Create Alert button and that search is saved. You’ll begin receiving emails when Google comes across a result for that term.

But chances are that you will want to refine those results. In that case, click the Show options link to display filters to narrow results.

As you make selections, the results are modified in real time. When satisfied, click Create Alert to save it.

Google Alerts to Monitor Authors Platform

Tip: it’s usually a good idea to start broad, and if you get irrelevant results, go back and refine the alert.

But don’t stop there . . .

A search query can include Boolean logic and Google hacks to help you narrow and refine results. Here are three I use most often:

  • Use quotes to find an exact phrase. Example: “environmental sustainability”
  • Use OR (in caps, not the lowercase “or”) to find variations on a term or when terms are related to each other (e.g., a common misspelling of your name). Example: “david wogahn” OR “david woghan”
  • Use the minus sign to exclude terms, like a stranger who shares your last name, from results. Example: “david wogahn” OR “david woghan” -brent

You can find more tips on this Google help page.

This entire exercise takes as little as 5 minutes, but the benefits can be enormous and limited only by your creativity. Not only can you read what others are saying about you or your subject, but you can put this information to use in your own marketing efforts.

Is it perfect? No.

The online world is much broader than it was when Google Alerts was launched in 2003. Most importantly, social media platforms comprise an enormous repository of information and conversations that Alerts doesn’t and can’t monitor. They’re closed off.

If you have a budget, and your needs are such that you require more extensive and more accurate monitoring, you can choose from a range of tools. Most of these cater to agencies and businesses that understand the importance of online reputation management.

A few options worth mentioning are:

Our advice is to not overthink this. If you don’t have Google Alerts set for your key terms, do that today. Like I said, it takes just a few minutes and it’s free.

If you’ve been using Google Alerts and feel the need to monitor your reputation more closely, try one of the three above. All three have free trials, and you can compare those results to what you get with Alerts.

These days, online reputation isn’t just about damage control. It’s also a way to identify opportunities to sell more books and strengthen your online reputation.

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