Table of Contents
- Why Monitor Competitors?
- How do Google Alerts Work?
- How to Create Google Alerts for Your Shop
- Other Uses for Google Alerts
- Search Tips for Google Alerts
- What if the Alerts Aren’t What I Was Looking For?
- Final Thoughts
Collision center owners have a lot to manage, like the front office, the shop, customer service, marketing, training, and more. So keeping tabs on what competitors are doing can easily fall through the cracks. Google Alerts is a free tool you can use to monitor competitors, as well as other topics. And even better, this is a case where you can set it and forget it.
Why Monitor Competitors?
Have you ever met a person who is just always popping up no matter where you go, whether it’s in person or through social media, or just “on your radar”?
Monitoring a competitor can help you gain insight on how they keep getting themselves noticed. Maybe by paying closer attention, you learn that they always appear on certain websites, which have large audiences, or they use social media very effectively.
An alert can give you a quick peek under the hood at what marketing techniques your competitors might be using, so that you can use the techniques for your own business.
How do Google Alerts Work?
You simply create an alert for a keyword or phrase, and Google will send you an email anytime a new result appears. It’s a bit like doing a Google search, then telling Google to send you new results over time.
For example, let’s say I have a competitor named “Otto Botty’s Auto Body”. I simply create an alert for that name, and then I sit back and wait. Anytime Google notices a new result, I get an email.
In this fictional example, I got an alert notifying me that Otto Botty’s is looking for a Detailer/Parts Assistant. That could be a sign that they’re growing, or maybe they’re just replacing someone who left. How you use this info is up to you, but it probably gets you turning over some ideas.
Maybe they're using marketing to recruit body shop employees.
How to Create Google Alerts for Your Shop
Setting up alerts is incredibly easy. You do need a Google account, but I’d be surprised if you’ve somehow managed to avoid that considering all the tools and apps they offer.
If you have an account, go to https://www.google.com/alerts
On this page you’ll need to sign in if you haven’t already. Inside the blue box, simply type your search phrase. As you type, Google runs a search and results appear below, like a standard Google search.
This is so you can test whether you are getting the type of results you are expecting. For example, you may need to put “auto body” inside quotes, so that you aren’t getting some results about “auto” and other results about “body” - you’d only want an exact match here.
Once you’re happy with what you’re seeing, you can start setting some options to customize when and how you receive your alerts. The options include:
- How often (As-it-happens, At most once per day, At most once per week)
- Sources (Automatic, News, Blogs, Web)
- Region (I recommend limiting this to the US only)
- How many (Only the best results, or All results)
- Deliver to (enter or choose your email address here)
Then press the “Create Alert” button, and you’re done.
Once you’ve created a few alerts, you can view them all on the main screen.
Other Uses for Google Alerts
This is a useful tool for more than just monitoring competition. Here are a few other ideas you may want to try.
Find Out Who's Talking About You or Your Shop
Create an alert for your own name, or your employees, the name of your shop, or any domain name. Anytime you or your employee, or your business is mentioned online, you’ll get an alert for this.
Hopefully whatever comes up is a positive result, but if it’s not, at least you are aware of it early, and can address it if needed.
You may also find it handy to create alerts about industry news. Maybe you put in a vendor’s name to be alerted anytime they announce a new product or service.
You could also set alerts around trade shows, like “SEMA 2022”.
Maybe you want to keep up with news about who is getting certifications in your area, like “hyundai certified collision center illinois”.
Get creative here, whatever you want to monitor can be created as an alert.
Search Tips for Google Alerts
If you know all the search operators and tricks for Google, those can be used on your alerts.
For instance, let’s say your town is named Springfield. There are lots of Springfields across the country. You could set your alert as “collision repair springfield -missouri”. If I’m in Illinois, I don’t want to see results for Missouri. So I add a minus (-) before the word missouri to exclude it.
Or if you only want results from a specific site, you can use the format “auto body site:domain.com”.
Another example is using the word OR to get alerts for either of 2 words, such as “auto body OR collision repair”.
For more examples of search operators, refer to Google’s help center.
What if the Alerts Aren’t What I Was Looking For?
You’ll definitely get results from spammy sites or sites that just aren’t relevant. In this case, all you have to do is click the link for “Flag as irrelevant”.
That helps Google fine-tune its results, whether it’s not delivering results from that site anymore, or just analyzing the phrases more closely.
Setting up Google Alerts is such a simple way to monitor any number of topics that are important to you, whether it’s your business, your industry, your community, or your competitors. Set it up in 5 minutes, and let the results come in over time.
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