Google alerts is a great service from Google that can be used in a variety of ways to promote your own website.
What actually happens with google alerts, is that you input a key phrase that you are interested in, every time google finds new web pages relating to that phrase, you get an email, with the address of the websites. Simply put, Its an email alert that google has found another page related to your key phrase that you chose in the google alerts control panel.
Using Google Alerts to keep track of your competition websites, and build links to your own website
Do a google search for your primary key phrase that you are trying to rank for, and make a note of the top ten websites in the results. Now go to Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts), and put each of those web addresses in as items you would like to be alerted on. Now every time one of these websites is added to another directory, links page, search engine, blog etc and google finds it, you will get an email.
This information is like gold, and you should immediately visit the offending website, and see if you can get your own site listed there too. It might have been a link exchange, or a paid placement etc, but sometimes its a blog talking about the competition website. Blogs are great because 90% of the time, there is an option to comment on the article, and this is when you strike!
Leave an excellent comment on the page, I mean make it worth its weight in gold, be constructive, informative, witty, etc, pull out all the stops, and of course, leave your website link. Even be so bold as to say how much you like the competition website, and why you like it. All this will make people interested in you, and your website link. It will also ensure that your comment is not removed, because the admin of the blog will love great comments to the articles. This works especially if the blog actually belongs to your competitor! So in theory its entirely possible for you to get your main competitors website to actually have links to yours!
Whats also great, is that normally if you visit the websites as soon as you receive your google alert, if its a blog article, there normally arent any other comments yet, so you get to be the first one to comment on the article, and so your website link is going to have the most visibility out of all the comments. Yeah baby!
Now comes an even cooler part, share the blog page! Thats right, most blogs have those buttons to share the posting on digg/delicious/newsvine etc. Click the button and post the page to as many places as you are a member. This will allow others to find the posting, and in turn, your link and comment. If its a competitors blog and you are reluctant to share it, get over yourself! The blog still has a link to your site, and the world should know about it!
Use Google Alerts to get web content
Go to Google Alerts and input your main phrase that you are trying to rank high for. Now everytime google finds new sites related to that phrase you get your notification. Normally it lists a lot of news pages and blogs talking about your key phrase. So immediately you benefit by keeping on top of the latest breaking news about your target phrase. Visit all these news sites, and harvest the information to use on your own site, to increase your status as an authority website for that phrase. Free content, cool!
Your site will quickly become the authority on that phrase if every time there is breaking news on that subject, your site has a page about it. So harvest all the news information, re-write it, and make it your own. Then publish the page on your website, and of course share it with social bookmarking sites. This works well if your website has products for sale, and one of your phrases is a brand name or product name. Your site can have the most up to date information about that product or brand at all times if you keep track of things with google alerts! Remember, the most relevant sites for a key phrase are at the top of page one on google!
Of course like above, visit all the blogs, and post comments about each article, again, you will probably be the first to comment and leave your link. Remember to make the comment really good. Dont do a one-liner, make it a work of art, a really good post that you can be proud of. Lastly, dont forget to share the page!
Use Google Alerts to track when Google indexes your pages
Another nifty way to use Google Alerts, is to put a random line of text onto each of your pages when you publish them, eg: asdlkhsofieknhewioughsoeighjsoefjoief.
Go then to the Google Alerts control panel, and put that line of text in as an item you would like to get email alerts on. Do this every time you create a new web page. Now you can use Google Alerts to track when your pages get indexed by Google. As soon as google finds your page, you get an email, now you pretty much know for certain, that your page is indexed in Google, and should be able to be found in the search results.
If you cant seem to find your page when doing searches for the key phrase you are targeting with that page, you can make changes to the code or content, use a new random string of text, then upload the changes.
Go back to Google Alerts, and replace the old text string with the new one, and wait for your email alert!