Google Alerts Can Help Small Rural Tourism Businesses Become More Profitable

by Joanne Steele on September 24, 2009

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Some Questions Can't Be Answered by Google
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mykl Roventine

Google Alerts can help any small business learn more about their competitors, what is being said about their own business, and what is happening in their business sector. My last post was directed at lodging owners, but I urge all rural tourism businesses to set up Google Alerts.

After learning how to set up Google Alerts in my last post, your Gmail box may be flooded with alerts that you can’t figure out how to use to increase your business. Today, we will look at a few things you can do.

First of all, if you are getting tons of useless alerts, recraft what you’re asking for. For instance, if you are a B&B owner and you set up an alert for bed and breakfasts, you probably have zillions of alerts for beds, breakfasts, as well as “bed and breakfasts”.

Recraft by using quotations around phrases to alert the Google spider that you want “bed and breakfasts” only, no searches for separate words. Then add a regional limiter, “bed and breakfasts” location: Smalltown, ID. Google recognizes those two letter state abbreviations for US states.

Then, you might have asked for a phrase that isn’t giving you relevant information. Delete the alert. I set up an alert for “destination tourism marketing” only to discover that 99% of the results were for urban tourism organizations. So I deleted that alert.

Now, to look at the useful alerts in your box.

1. Alerts for your key industry phrases.

These will send you to news articles and blogs where your expert advice could add insights and information to what has been written.

Leave comments on these articles and posts. You might have to register to do so, but it’s worth it to be able to connect with another online publication and potentially drive relevant traffic to your own website.

Make your comment informative and helpful. If you are blatantly commercial, the writer will consider you spam and delete your comment. Follow your signature with a link to your web site. There is lots of discussion online about doing this. My philosophy is that if your comment adds to the information presented, I welcome the link as well.

If the writer or the blog you discover this way is focused on your industry, bookmark the site and make contact with the owner or writer. Email them, introducing yourself and thanking them for the post/article that focused on your business sector or area. Offer your services, a link on your website if appropriate, or some other helpful action. Nurture the contact, following through on anything you promised until you have a relationship strong enough to ask for something in return. As tourism director for my region, I garnered tens of thousands of dollars worth of free press by following this process.

2. Alerts for your competitors.

Set up an alert [“keyword” site:www.mycompetition.com] to  see where your competitors are showing up. See what they are doing that is getting them attention. Use this information to help you improve your business and your marketing.

3. Alerts that connect you directly to your customers.

Setting up alerts for questions your customers might be asking online can link you to places they are going for answers. Think like your customer when you set these up. “Where to go for _______” “Best place for _____ in ______” might be some of the formats you use. Be sure to bracket the question in quotations. When you hit pay dirt, take action. Answer the question and bookmark the location.

If your words and phrases aren’t netting you any alerts, modify them until you get what you’re after.

Google Alerts is an enormously valuable tool for small businesses. The kind of research of your customer, your industry and the effectiveness of your own marketing used to cost more than any small business could afford. Now, it’s all right at your own fingertips. Experiment, recraft your searches and use the information you uncover to improve your business marketing.

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