The Complete Guide to Google Alerts for Associations

by Martin Nikleva
on January 25, 2018

Do you know what people are saying about you online?

There’s an unimaginable number of places that you, your brand, and your association or non-profit may be mentioned online at anytime. Obviously, we don’t want negative things to be said about us online. Moreso, we’d even prefer to know when something good has been said, or really when we’re mentioned in any capacity.

If there’s an unlimited number of places online you should be tracking, how do you control your association or non-profit organization’s brand?

Web-based brand monitoring tools fill this gap and make it easy for you to leverage this information. Track the overall health of your brand and improve your member experience by managing this information in a useful way.

Google Alerts immediately notifies you when something positive or negative about your association is posted online, allowing you to respond right away. Think of it as a customized Google Search sent directly to your inbox. This free service lets you find keywords, phrases, and names anywhere online as long as they are not behind a password protected page

It’s one of the easiest and most useful ways to start brand monitoring for your non-profit or association, so let’s get started!

What should your association track?

If you’re just starting out with Google Alerts, you’ll need to set up a free Gmail address. If you already use Google products, just log in and navigate to Google Alerts. Once logged in, it’s time to start entering keyword strings that you want monitored.

It’s easiest to start with Branded Search Terms (your organization’s name, conference titles, donation campaigns, etc.). This includes anything related to your association or non-profit’s name and any iteration that you think might appear somewhere on the web. Once you’ve got this down, you can move on to tracking influencers in your space and other news topics that you want to be notified about.

Branded Search Terms

Enter search terms related to your particular brand and anyone associated with your organization that may be mentioned online. Let’s use the made-up example of ‘British Columbia Association of Technology Companies.’ My list of branded search terms might look something like this:

“British Columbia Association of Technology Companies”

“BC Association of Technology Companies”


“BC Technology Summit”

I’d then move on to the names of my team members most likely to be mentioned online. I may include the first and last names of my communications coordinator, my executive director, and my conference planning committee.

Influencer & News Terms

Now that you’ve got your brand monitored, it’s time to gain insight into the news happening in your association’s space and any influencers you want to follow. Take a moment to brainstorm what news would be most relevant to your organization and which people are most likely to be mentioned. In this example, since we are a regional association, I’ll add local news related to our particular sector, similar associations in neighbouring locations, and a government official related to our sector.

“Vancouver Technology”

“Ontario Association of Technology Companies”

“Alberta Association of Technology Companies”

“Minister of Technology”

Set it and Forget it

For most search terms, you’ll be fine with the default settings and can always easily change them over time as you see what kind of results you get. Most of your results will depend on how regularly your brand gets mentioned.

How Often: Select from At most once a day, As-it-happens, or At most once a week depending on the urgency of this particular search term. If it’s a direct brand mention, set it to occur more often. If it’s industry news, consider consolidating these posts and getting it sent periodically.
Sources: Leave this as Automatic unless you only want to see posts from specific Google sources such as News, Blogs, Books, or Discussions.
Language: Select the language in which you are most likely to be mentioned.
Region: Choose your location.
How Many: Select either Only the best results or All results. Most often, I choose All results as I want to know every mention of my brand and this won’t be too many posts for me to manage.
Deliver to: Select the email address to which you want the results to be sent.

Once you enter a search term, Google Alerts will populate a page of results so you can see if you’re on the right track.

Now what?

Now that the results are coming in, take a few minutes to narrow them down to ensure you’re only getting the mentions that are most relevant to your association or non-profit.

Geographic Results: Narrow your results to a particular region or location. Add Location: region
In our example I would enter “Healthcare” location:Boston, MA

Exact Searches: Use quotation marks to return results that are an exact match to your term. For example:  “Healthcare Association” Healthcare Association
Exclude terms: Use the minus sign (-) to exclude specific words from your search query.

As I hope you can now see, Google Alerts is one of the most powerful and useful free tools to start any sort of brand monitoring your association or nonprofit needs. It only takes a few minutes to set up, and can be implemented by anyone on your team – two reasons to take advantage of it today!. Once you’re up and running, we’d love to hear about your experience with Google Alerts and how you choose to leveraged the new insights.

Give it a try. It only takes a click to unsubscribe.

Martin Nikleva

I help associations grow to their full potential through using our online cloud-based tools. All good meetings are held during Ping-Pong matches.

Association Universe