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How To Stalk Your Competition And Yourself Online

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by David Garland in David's Blog

Stalking yourself and others has never been so easy and fun! We have all left digital footprints all over the web. Anytime you blog, or post something to Twitter or comment on a forum, you leave a footprint. Anytime your competitors issue a press release, or posts a video, they leave a footprint.

And more importantly, anytime someone talks, blogs, or writes about your company, it is all there on the web for everyone to see if they look.

While there are literally hundreds of tools for tracking and researching yourself and competitors online, here is a basic overview of some that will turn you into a sleuth in seconds. Best of all: They are all FREE (hooray!)

Note: Make sure to sign up for Google Reader. It is free and fun. It will help organize many of the resources below.

1. Google Alerts: Aggregates many places on the web talking about your business or keywords related to your business or competitors…as they happen. Simple action plan: Track your name, your business name, your competitor’s CEO, your competitor’s companies, and some key words that are relatively specific (Example: Marketing In Florida).

2. Adding Google Alerts To Google Reader: Here is the fun part and neat little trick. Add your Google Alerts to Google Reader so you can organize all of them on one screen (the alternative is getting an email from Google anytime an alert goes off or once a day with all alerts. It will drive you nuts) All you have to do is take the RSS feed and plop it into Google Reader (if you are a beginner with RSS, no worries, here is a nice video tutorial.)

3. Google Real Time Search: This is brand new and Mashable did a nice article on it. Simply Google something (your name, your business, etc.), click “Show Options” and you can now choose some great new options especially “Latest”, “Past 24 Hours”, etc.

4. Google Blogsearch: Blogs move quicker than Google (Google is trying to catch up with Real Time Search), but to check what is going on with you, your business, competitors, etc., check out Google Blogsearch.

5. The hub of the realtime web. Nothing gets closer than up-to-the-literal second updates. You can also take an RSS feed for keywords, your business, your name, people you want to stalk, and put them into Google Reader (similar to the Google Alerts Example) making even more info available to you in ONE screen.

6. Advanced Twitter Search: That little button on Allows for better geo-targetting and a whole host of options you would expect with the word “advanced” *wink*

7. Ice Rocket: Beautifully designed search site to help track blogs, the web in general, Twitter, news, etc.

8. Backtype: Good one here. Backtype lets you track comments left on blogs and forums as well so social sites. Often overlooked and extremely important.

9. Measures web traffic against competitors. Warning: We have used this for awhile and often it is not extremely accurate (often low or just a bit off); however, it does give you some quick information.

10. Video search. Videos are important and Youtube is the second-largest search engine to Google. Search there for videos about you and the competition. Other video search engines include Google’s Video Search, Yahoo’s Video Search, Blinkx and my new favorite: Truveo (very slick).

Of course the tools are just the beginning. What you do with the data, how you analyze it, the ability to pick out important parts, and how you respond is the real value.
What did I miss? What are your favorite tools?

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8 Steps to Turning What You Already Know into a Successful Online Course

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