Sometime back when you were in middle school or high school, some English teacher probably taught you about the concept of the main idea and how to use it to develop a paragraph and ultimately, an essay or composition. Like everything else in today's fast-paced techno-society, the main idea has been abbreviated to single words or short phrases now known as "key words."
Your attention to this detail may have begun when some techie told you that no one would find your website without good key words. SEO (search engine optimization) experts seemed to have developed a whole industry around the use of key words. While I've yet to master the concepts of SEO, I have found one great use for key words, thanks to Google.
Just like being able to identify the main idea or key phrases to bring your audience to your website, you can use these same words to bring your audience to your email box with Google Key Word Alerts. By setting up a free account and identifying a series of words or phrases, you can register to receive hourly, daily or weekly notification about articles or blog posts on the Internet that contain your key words. The "alerts" are delivered directly to your email box, for you to read at your leisure.
For example, my key words for the Alerts are book publishing, self-publishing, book marketing, my name, my book title, my publishing company's authors' names and book titles and my husband's name and company. I receive my alerts daily (hourly was too intense and distracting and weekly was too overwhelming). I know when someone mentions our names or books/products in a blog, article or press release posted on the Internet. I'm also informed when someone writes about any of the topics I've identified.
Why would I want this information? In the case of the industry-related key words, it helps keep me current on trends and important events and relieves me of the task of having to scour dozens of publications for the information. If I'm following a story in the news, I receive timely updates.
By receiving alerts for name, book title and company as well as key words, I know when someone is talking or writing about people and/or subjects relevant to me. It gives me an opportunity to review the information, and in the case of blogs, comment if it is appropriate.
For example, I recently received an alert for Adair Cates' Live with Intention, a book published by my company, Visual Impressions Publishing. The alert linked to a discussion board called Live with Intention, and all the members were people seeking the kind of information that Cates covers in her book. I forwarded her the information so that she could join the discussion group and talk with her potential audience. (See previous post that mentioned how Jeff Rivera built his readership through discussion groups, and eventually landed a publishing contract?)
Blogs are heavily monitored by the search engines, and posts and comments to posts show up almost immediately. I have found my name turn up in a search for a key word simply because I made a comment on someone else's blog post--so you don't even have to have your own blog or website for this to work for you. Of course, it is better to have somewhere to link your name so you can take advantage of the traffic, but having just your name in print in the subject area helps to build your platform.
If you haven't identified your key words yet, do it now. Then sign up for Google Key Word Alerts and try it out. The beauty of it is that besides being free, you can add and delete words and phrases at any time and the changes are effective immediately. You may have to experiment until you find the right combination of words, but it's fun and illuminating. And so cool.