How to use Google Alerts to spot business opportunities


I was talking with a client recently about how we could make his company’s approaches to prospects more timely and targeted. He’s already doing all the right things in terms of building a list of current and potential clients and keeping in touch with them by sending high-quality content.

“But how,” he asked, “can we make sure we make contact with a relevant offer at the right time?”

And one answer to that is Google Alerts.


I’ve been quite surprised by how few people use Google Alerts these days. A couple of years ago it was a very popular way of keeping your finger on the pulse. Perhaps its been usurped by social media such as Twitter. But it still has a role.

What are Google Alerts?

If you’ve never used a Google Alert before it is simply a stored Google search that checks for results for terms you specify, at a frequency you decide, and then emails the results to your in box.

So whether you want to set an alert for any mention of a target client or competitor, or keep an eye on all mergers or acquisitions that are rumoured or announced in a region, Google Alerts could help.

How to set up a Google Alert?

You’ll need to have or set up a Google account.

Then go to this page (if you are in the UK): and you will see a screen similar to this:


Type in a search term to get a preview of some of the items you will get. Note you can use the same search logic here that you use in any search (eg  “Tate and Lyle” OR “Tate & Lyle”).

Then hit “show options” to help you refine your settings.



Amongst the options you can select:

  • How often you want to get alerts – once a day is normally quite enough
  • Sources – News is the obvious one to choose for contemporary stories. Anything else is likely to overwhelm you.
  • Language and Region (actually country) – If you work with clients overseas these are worth looking into. Otherwise, stick with your own language and country.
  • How many – You can ask Google to send you just the best links (according to its algorithm) or all results. Try both and see what works for you.

You can also specify the email address(es)  to which you want to send the results.

Then click the blue button to create the alert. You can create as many as you wish but beware of becoming so overwhelmed with data that you don’t have time to understand the information.

You will now receive an email each day highlighting relevant news reports with links to the full story as you would see in a normal Google Search.

It’s a free and powerful way to spot new opportunities and keep up to date with your prospect’s business.