What do these three images have in common? All three have been used by man as ‘watchmen’ or guardians. The sacred geese alerted the Romans when the invading Gauls were trying to sneak into the city. Despite their size, the Tibetan lion dogs or Shih Tzu acted as watchdogs for the temples. .. and finally many main frame computers act as sentinels against unwanted intruders.
Standing on guard is a thankless and boring task. Given the monotony, it can be difficult to stay alert. Where the task can be delegated to a computer, it will be done much more efficiently. Thankfully there are a number of programs now available that can monitor the Internet and signal when something unusual has happened..
Google Alerts is one such program. It can provide e-mail messages whenever particular keywords, like the company name, are detected in new web pages. It is an easy way of monitoring publicity efforts or competitive activity.
Many people are now Microblogging on Twitter. Luckily it is possible now to get Twitter alerts. TweetBeep is like Google Alerts for Twitter! Put in a keyword or website, and get emails when others tweet it!
Monitoring how well a website is doing in search engine rankings would be another good area for SEO tools that would provide such alerts. The problem with the search engines is that there is far too much data. Expert SEO’s can spend the time involved in crunching all the numbers that describe how web pages are ranking with the search engines. Now webmasters who have much less time can use a new program, Exact Factor, to provide alerts on how well web pages are ranking for particular keywords in different search engines. Limited results are available without signing up, but registering for a free account gives access to all the services.
As with Google alerts or TweetBeep alerts, e-mail messages can be sent when particular results surface. The following screenshots show some of the choices that are available in Exact Factor. Results can be seen either on the screen or via e-mail alerts. The first is a simple choice of an alert for a particular keyword or keywords in a number of search engines.
Another possibility is to compare your own website against a competitor for particular keywords.
The next image shows just a small fraction of what is available after such an analysis is done. There is a good deal of flexibility in what is shown on the screen and results can also be downloaded. For example a weekly report can be produced that summarizes relative positions for a range of keywords.
The advantage of this process is that it can be made completely automatic. Expert SEO’s who are prepared to dive into complex analyses may well not find this an important advantage. However many other webmasters will find assurance in the continuing surveillance of their website so as to spot when results may be deteriorating. Such early warning systems give the best opportunity of identifying what may be the problems and correcting them promptly.