It is true — fresh, timely and informative content is a great way to entice visitors to come back and visit your website time and time again. For me, at least, the hardest part of writing is often simply coming up with the idea. Are you having trouble coming up with ideas for articles to include on your website or blog, too?

I've found a great resource that stimulates my brain every day with loads of ideas — and it's free!

It's a service from Google called Google Alerts.

It's easy — really! Just make a list of a the primary search phrases that relate to your business. These could be product categories, the names of specific products or services, words or phrases describing common problems your product or service solves, whatever is applicable to your business. If you have a few primary competitors, you list their company names, too.

Then log in to Google Alerts using your Google Account and set up your alerts using the list of search terms and competitor names you just made.

You can use advanced search operators to refine your search (such as quote marks to enclose exact phrases, minus signs to exclude words and Boolean operators to create various combinations of words and phrases).

You can specify if you want “comprehensive” results, or whether you prefer the results come specifically from Google's web, news, blog or Group index.

Depending on how often you want to update your site or blog, you can select to receive emails “as-it-happens”, once a day or once a week. Then just save each search, sit back and wait for the ideas to start arriving in your inbox.

What will you get?

Depending on the options you've selected, you'll get emails with links to newly-indexed blog posts, press releases, news and opinion articles and more, all related to your chosen topics.

So how does this help you write high-quality fresh content for your blog or website?

Use these Alerts as inspiration. Offer your “spin” on industry-related developments. Become a source for informed opinions on late-breaking news and events. Write responses to other bloggers' opinions.

I recommend starting with more general terms and comprehensive results at first, to cast your net as widely as possible. Of course, you will likely get too many links, some of which will be less relevant than you might want. But once you see what kinds of results you're getting, you can easily refine your search terms and results to bring in the most useful and inspiring results.

  • If you find your search term is too broad, use advanced operators to narrow your focus.
  • If you find one source (blogs, news, groups, web) that consistently returns better results than the others, update the Alert to zero in on that source.
  • If you want results from just two sources and the “comprehensive” results are too broad, simply set up two otherwise identical Alerts, selecting a different source for each.
  • If you find that the updates are too frequent or too spread-out to suit your publishing schedule, adjust as needed.

With just a little bit of planning, thought and tweaking, Google will deliver timely news, indicators of trends, industry bloggers' opinions and other great (and free!) article inspirations, right to your email inbox.

Note: Yahoo offers a similar service — Yahoo! News Alerts. You'll need to sign in to your Yahoo! account to set up Alerts there. Select the “keyword news” option, enter your desired words to include and to exclude, decide on your delivery option(s) and you're good to go.

So let Google (and/or Yahoo!) “alert” you, and get started writing!

May 13, 2007

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Search Engine Guide > Diane Aull > A Great Source of Fresh Content Ideas for Your Website or Blog