Here’s a simple tip – use Google alerts for small business. Why? Because it is a valuable, free tool to quickly and easily find out what is being said about you, your brand, and if applicable your products. While you are at it, monitor your competitors too.

Think monitoring doesn’t matter? What if someone says something great and you don’t thank them? What if someone says something negative and you don’t respond? What if one of your competitors announces a price drop and you don’t find out about it? What if there is bad press on a product you carry? You get my point, it’s good to know what’s going on and Google alerts is a very easy way.

What is Google alerts? It’s a really simple application that you reach here: http://www.google.com/alerts. You set it up and Google sends you the information you requested in the time frame you request.

There are only 5 pieces of information that you need to provide to start using Google alerts for small business:

1. The word or words you want to be alerted about: company name, your name, your products, etc.
2. The type of search: news, blogs, video, discussions, books, or everything
3. How often: as it happens, once a day, or once a week
4. Volume: only the best results or all results
5. Where the alert should be delivered: email address or feed

I can almost see you rolling your eyes thinking “but I get SO many emails already”. Well go back and read my 2nd paragraph and see if this isn’t something you want to spend 5 minutes a day to check on. I suggest using your email client to set up a folder for the alerts and then create a rule to send your alerts to that folder each day. Each email client does this slightly differently, but if you go to your email client and use help, it is typically very easy to set up. Maybe you only want to check your competitors once a week, but your name and your company name, you should check once a day. Put a reminder in your calendar program until you get used to checking this each day. By the way, this is a good way to tell if nothing is being said about you too. That’s not very good either.

If you see something – act. Thank someone who gave you a good review or respond if you see a complaint. Small gestures can go a long way towards building good will.

Google alerts scours web pages, but it won’t monitor what is being said about you on Twitter and Facebook. There are plenty of tools for that and you should be using one of those too. As a small business, you need to leverage technology to help you manage your brand and reputation. It’s a fact of life now that people can say things about you and it can spread quickly – right or wrong. Google alerts certainly isn’t just for small business, but it a great tool that small businesses with limited resources can easily leverage.

I’d appreciate it if you let me know in a comment if Google alerts for small business helped you protect your brand or reputation.