Setting up a Google alert or two is an essential first step when you are ready to start your blog (or fully fledged content marketing campaign). Here are three reasons to do it today.

Stay on top

Google alerts keep you on top of your subject. Using this simple process – the link is here – you’ll stay up to date with new research and news in your area. One of the vital elements of great (magnetic) content is that it is timely – with so much info dropping into our inbox, we will prioritise the items we feel we must read now (to win an advantage or to avoid a risk).

For example, my alert on content marketing this week revealed that the Sydney content marketing agency, King Content, is opening a Melbourne office (about time), and that means more work for Melbourne journos, and greater simplicity for Melbourne businesses that are twigging to the value of content marketing.

Know your peers

You’ll quickly learn who your peers and rivals are via your alert. You will see who is putting out content and how often, and the quality of their offering. This is valuable competitive information, but in the new world of online media, I think it is more relevant for its partnership potential. Perhaps you could exchange blogs with a peer? This month, for example, I asked the Content Marketing Institute, an American group and pioneers in this emerging field, if I could reproduce an article from their site once a month, to which they kindly agreed. Read the first of these here (if you missed it).

Participate in the debate

You are an expert, of course, but in our fast-changing world, it doesn’t take long to become out-of-date. Some knowledge is evergreen, but contributing your expertise to the debates that rage in all our industries increases your currency. Your alert keeps you abreast of the disruptors and the sceptics.

In my industry, media, the debate is about the future of independent journalism. I have come to believe that content marketing is a big part of that future, and I love the fact that the media is so democratised by the web. However, I’m worried that the scrutiny of power – a key role of investigative journalism – is threatened by the demise of the big media powerhouses. It’s one reason why I recently wrote about The Conversation, which is an exciting model that combines content marketing with fearless content.

Your Google alert is a ticket into your community and your world, the oft-overlooked elements of a content marketing campaign that are overlooked. And, it’s free. Cool.