Intelligent Brand Monitoring: Going Beyond Google Alerts

fishing for brand mentions


Brand Monitoring Beyond Google Alerts


Brand monitoring has always been an important piece of internet marketing. Extremely valuable for reputation management as well as for the link builders of the world. The key is trying to catch the right mentions. You don’t want to get stuck with an inbox full of scraped or spun content.

I’ve noticed post-Penguin, brand monitoring is something that has been discussed even more. Going to a website and physically building your own links (directory era link building) has past. The ROI for that type of link building is no longer there. I think we can all agree that link building has become more difficult.

LinkBuildingLayupThis challenge has made it even more crucial to make sure you’re on top of the potential links that are the equivalent to a layup in basketball: brand mentions.

I’m a huge fan of brand monitoring for link building. As we know, a brand mention is basically 90% of a link. As an SEO, you need to make sure each mention of your brand name is turned into a link to your website.

The challenge here is not converting the brand mention into a link. That is usually quite easy. The challenge is finding as close to 100% of your mentions as possible and not spending too much time doing it.


Google Alerts


If you’re new to brand monitoring, the basic, one-liner piece of advice you’ll receive in-regards to this is to “set-up Google Alerts.”

Google-Alerts-SuckOften, when I  forward links that contain brand mentions to coworkers or clients, they reply back with a response that closely resembles, “Where did you find that? I have Google Alerts set-up and didn’t get notified.”

I liken the accuracy of Goolge Alerts to the accuracy of Google’s search query data in Google Webmaster Tools, Google’s query results or any other data Google gives us. It’s widely inconsistent and inaccurate.

If you rely on Google Alerts, you are missing the MAJORITY of your brand mentions.

Despite that harsh last line, Google Alerts are 100% necessary in the brand monitoring picture.


Why Brand Monitoring?


The entire point of brand monitoring is to find actionable opportunities, every time, with as little effort as possible.

brand monitoring for link building

What are these opportunities? Links to be had, links to be improved upon (page URL or anchor), relationships to be built or simply a better understanding of how people perceive your company/product.

I’m sure there are plenty of people who do it better than I do, but I wanted to share my current (free) set-up for finding brand mentions with as little work as possible. (Note: I use some paid tools as well, but those aren’t very useful for people reading this post that don’t subscribe to the tools).


The (Mostly Free) Tools I Use for Brand Monitoring

(in addition to Google Alerts)

Meltwater IceRocket (Free) – Available via RSS


meltwater icerocket

Icerocket has been around for years (taken on the Meltwater name about 12 months ago), yet I still feel that it is vastly under appreciated. I freaking love it. It picks up a lot of mentions that are ignored by Google Alerts. My favorite query is the simple “” to see who is linking to you.

Tracking new links to your website is an extremely important way to keep tabs on who is discussing your brand. People will link to you without using your brand name. Traditional KW based alerts will never catch these.


TalkWalker (Free) – Available via RSS or Email


TalkWalker has gotten a bit more buzz lately, but I’m not overly impressed with the results it delivers. That said, my goal is to catch everything, and dealing with the higher spam ratio of TalkWalker results is something I deal with so I include it in my net.

talk walker alerts

Mention (Limited Free + Affordable Paid Versions)


I’ve used Mention briefly, but I’ve been really impressed from what I’ve seen. It’s got a great web interface and is available through a lot of devices and apps as well. This may be the most thorough option available and the results are relatively noise-free compared to others. for brand monitoring

Multiple h/t to Jon, Jamie and Donny for getting me to take another look.


Open Site Explorer Just Discovered Links (Limited Free)


Just discovered links open site explorer


I’ve been trying to use Open Site Explorer’s Just Discovered Links in conjunction with Page2RSS, which can convert a webpage into a RSS feed.

Page2RSS (Free)


Martijn Oud’s post on Moz describes how he’s successfully done it, but I’ve had problems getting the RSS feed to consistently update. For now, I’m patiently waiting on Moz to provide a legitimate RSS feed for this tab.


Fresh Web Explorer (Moz Membership)


Put a variety of brand queries into Fresh Web Explorer. Track. Hey Moz- here is spot #2 we need an RSS Feed.


brand monitor moz fresh web explorer


Google Search (Past Week)


If you need proof that Google Alerts are inconsistent, simply do a search for your Alert Queries, filtered to only show results for the past week.




brand monitoring create yahoo pipeYahoo Pipes (Free – Yahoo Account)


Having a ton of RSS feeds sucks. If you can find a good brand monitoring alert sources available via RSS, I highly recommend combining them into one.

Yahoo Pipes have been around forever and the interface looks like it’s 20 years old, but it’s still effective. If you’ve never built a pipe before, watch this short video.


Search Queries for Brand Monitoring


I’m not going to waste any time teaching you about the search queries to put into the any of these tools. There are a ton of good articles out that cover this topic. For the complete beginner, start with these basics.

  • “Company Name”
  • “Company Name” OR “Company Name Variation” OR “”

Brands with really unique names have it easy. I bet Peter over at Cucumber Nebula barely ever misses a brand mention. Monitoring for brand like Distilled is much harder.

I can’t stress this next point enough. If your results are returning too much noise and spam, refine your queries. Brand monitoring isn’t exactly a set-it and forget-it type of thing. You should always be looking to adapt and improve.


end of brand monitoringEnd Result


I still have quite a few different spots to monitor. My goal is to combine as many RSS feeds as possible to have one or two master data feeds. One for web and one for social would be ideal. It’s still a work in progress.

Despite having to monitor a few different places, I have all my bases covered and I think I rarely miss out on a good link opportunity.


How to Turn a Brand Mention Into a Link


I like to keep this type of outreach short and to the point. Good outreach is short and to the point.

Here is the basic template for a brand mention outreach email.

Hey [First Name],

My name is [Your First Name] and I work with [Company/Website]. I wanted to thank you for mentioning our company in your recent blog post about [Blog Post Topic].

Would you do me a small favor and turn our company name into a link to our website?

Thanks again for sharing us.

[Full Name]

[Company Name]


No One Talks About My Brand Yet – What’s In It For Me?


The same tools and tactics that you use for brand monitoring can also be used for link building and content marketing. Set-up feeds to pull in the Keywords around your upcoming content topic. Throw all domains into Buzzstream. Filter, Buzzbar, Boom.


These are the non-Social tools I use for brand monitoring.

What do you use? Help me do it better?