Link Building with Google Alerts: A Guide

by on November 22, 2010 | posted in Miscellaneous Strategies

Google Alerts is an amazing tool for building links, and one I feel that is relatively unharvested in the SEO world. Yes, there are certain slivers of the tool that most people use, but, used comprehensively, there is massive opportunity to find links – links that are indexed by Google (alerts picked them up!) – and fresh enough that you know the webmaster has recently monitored it, and therefore, more likely to respond – or at very least entertain – whatever link request you might make.

I might even go as far as to say that using Google Alerts for a social e-commerce company is basically printing links. Remember, though — before printing those links, think of the environment.

Setting up a Google Alert Strategy

If you use all of these queries, you will frequently end up getting a lot of mess in your inbox. Alerts give you the option to choose as-it-happens, daily, or weekly updates on these queries. I suggest you do this weekly, and also create a specific alert inbox so that you can make searching these queries a once a week activity. If you let these interrupt you constantly, you can turn something that can be a huge boost to your link building campaign into something that will suck ROI away as you let constant interruptions monopolize your time and attention.

So, to the queries. These are divided by type – from the queries that will most often generate forums and question and answer sites, to brand mentions, to the massive list of keyword specific queries for your site.

Q&A Queries

  • “what is the best [product]”
  • “I need a [product]”
  • “I need an [product]”
  • “what [product] do I need”
  • “what is a good [product]”
  • “what is a cheap [product]”
  • “what is the cheapest [product]”
  • “what’s the best [product]”
  • “where should I buy a/an [product]”
  • “where can I get a good [product]”
  • “where should I buy a [product]”
  • “what are some cool [product]”
  • “what is the top [product]”
  • Query sets for products that solve problems –
    • For wetting eyedrops, “My eyes are always dry”, “I always have redeyes”, “How do I prevent redeyes”, “How do I prevent dryeyes”
    • For protein powder, “How do I get bigger”, “How can I gain muscle”, “I need to get bigger”, “How do you gain muscle”

Yahoo! Answers created lots of copycat sites that wanted to jump on the user-generated content bandwagon – and for good reason. Because of that, thousands of questions are being asked – and answered, each day. I’d definitely say that manually going to the top Q&A sites is a bad, or fairly marginal, idea – because it’s time intensive, your topics are frequently outdated/already answered, and it’s possible they’re so far deep on the site that they’ve fallen out of the index.

But with Google Alerts, none of these things apply. Freshness. The ability to answer relevant questions, first. Sometimes, these queries will generate blog post results – the best situation. Sometimes, you’ll register and post and find you can’t even get a live URL – but some small sliver of the time, these people will actually buy your products. And some other sliver, you will help brand your business. And the good sliver, you’ll do all of this, and also get a decent, relevant backlink back to your page.

Product Giveaway Queries

  • “Product Giveaway”
  • “Product Reviews”
  • “If you have a product that you would like”
  • “Submit a product for review”
  • “Submit a product”
  • “category: product review”
  • allinurl:product review

You can find lots of good sites that accept giveaways through normal query searches. But you can find more, new opportunities by setting up these queries. For less diluted segmentation, insert keywords relevant to your niche.

By all means, go alert crazy.

Brand Mention Queries

  • “Brand name”
  • Brand name misspellings
  • URL misspellings
  • Domain name
  • Domain name misspellings

Hugo Guzman put out a great post on how monitoring your brand can garner links. You need a decent sized brand in this case, but the great (and sometimes annoying) thing about Google Alerts is that you only get alerts when they occur – so even if you’re the smallest brand on the planet, at some point someone will mention you, and some kind of new opportunity will appear.  For example, brands like Staples, SeaWorld Parks and AT&T are all the kinds of brands that could utilize this to effectiveness (maybe they’ll notice this exact post!). Once you get those alerts, you’ll run into occasions where people will mention you but not supply a link. By following up and thanking them for their mention of your brand, there’s a pretty good chance you can get them to add some hypertext. If you don’t add those alerts, well – you’ll be waiting on the second page.

Competitor Queries

  • “Competitor name”
  • Competitor name misspellings
  • URL misspellings
  • “Domain name”
  • Domain name misspellings

Similar to brand queries, but generally of a much lower ROI than your own brand and website name mentions. However, these sites are still relevant, and if your opposition got a link, and you’ve got a better product offering, there’s little reason you shouldn’t be able to squirm out a link too.

Keyword Link Acquisition Queries

Link acquisition queries are those same queries you would use to find miscellaneous sites that your content and keywords match up with. These queries are great individually, but once you’ve exhausted them, it makes sense to have these alerts set up so you don’t waste time later revisiting them and frequently running over duplicates, while still maintaining the potential value they can offer you.

Rand has a great post with a long list of search queries to get you started, and, when you want an absolutely comprehensive alerts list based on what your website offers, use Ontolo’s link building query generator.

Alert Us with More Queries

This isn’t, by any means, a comprehensive list. There are certainly derivatives of many of the above searches that you can probably think of. The point of this post, though, is to make you cognizant of the power Google Alerts has a link building tool – not just as a way to monitor your brand. If you have any more suggestions that would make great Google Alert queries for our sites, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

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