This is Day 9 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, a group project 60+ of us bloggers are doing together in an effort to help each other become better bloggers. You can read an overview here.
The purpose of today’s lesson is to help you as a blogger stay informed about what is being written about you and your niche. Every day massive numbers of news articles, blog posts, and tweets are written. Sorting through all of it to find what is relevant and helpful to you can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are tools that can simplify and speed up this task.
Before we get to how to monitor what’s happening in your niche, let’s talk about why.
- Stay informed about what’s happening in your niche. The best bloggers know what’s happening in their field.
- Be among the first to blog about news. When something happens people are much more likely to read the first or second blog post written about it that day than the 100th post written about it a week later.
- Networking. When someone writes about your niche and you know about it, it gives you the opportunity to get to know them and perhaps comment on their article or follow them on twitter.
- Manage your reputation. When someone writes or tweets about you, your organization, or your blog – good or bad – you want to know about it so you have the opportunity to respond.
Keywords to monitor
The first step in setting up alerts is to determine what keywords/phrases you want to monitor. Some options include:
- Your name
- Your organization
- The name of your blog
- The domain names of any websites you or your organization have, including your blog.
- Keyword related to your niche.
This can be challenging. If your name is John Smith or you work for First Baptist Church, you might as well forget about monitoring your name or organization. Even selecting keywords that are relevant but not too broad can be challenging. Monitoring “Bible study,” “parenting,” or “web design” is likely to result in an overwhelming deluge of alerts.
There’s some guess work and trial and error that goes into selecting the right keywords to monitor. It’s also a good idea to periodically review the keywords you’re monitoring and consider adding and removing keywords.
Tools for monitoring
Once you know what keywords you’re going to monitor, the next step is to set up notification services.
One of the challenges with this task is that old tools get discontinued and new tools come on line all the time. For example, in the 31 Days e-book it recommends using Technorati.com watchlists. However, Technorati discontinued watchlists almost a year ago, and they also no longer supply blog search results to an RSS feed.
At the moment, there are essentially three types of items to monitor. These are the tools I use to monitor them:
- News articles – Google Alerts (for type, select news)
- Blog posts – Google Alerts (for type, select blog)
- Twitter tweets – Twitter search
You can set up Google alerts to email you any time it finds a news or blog article with your keywords in it, but receiving email alerts throughout the day can be very distracting. In my opinion, you are much better off subscribing to the RSS feed for each alert using Google Reader, and then checking them once or twice a day.
- What keywords are you monitoring?
- Can you give an example of a useful alert you received? How did you respond? How did it benefit your blog?
- Are there any tools other than Google Alerts & Twitter Search that you use or recommend?
- What questions do you have about alerts & setting them up?
The Extra Mile
A few other things you can do to take your blog, other bloggers, and this project even further today…
- Reply & give other bloggers feedback on the little things they do.
- When other bloggers include a link to a new article they’ve posted today, click, read, and comment on it.
- Check previous posts in the series for new comments.
- Tweet, share, & bookmark this post.