Here’s a complete guide to some of the best tools that will help you track what other people are saying about you, your business or your products on other websites, forums and social media sites.
You can secretly "listen" to conversations happening on the web in almost real-time and can then respond if you think a "negative" comment posted on another site may harm your own reputation or that of your brand.
All the "buzz monitoring" services mentioned in this guide are available for free and they can help you monitor almost every part of the "public" web including blogs, forums, websites, video sites, user comments and even some social networks.
Monitor Your Name or Business on the Internet
1. Google Search – Type your name (or that your business) in the Google search box and use the "Past 24 hours" with "Sort by Date" option to find the most recent web pages, blog posts, forum threads, etc. that are talking about you (see example).
If people tend to misspell your name, you should always use a search phrase that includes both your real name and the misspelled version separated by OR (in caps).
Since Google doesn’t offer feeds, you should consider adding the results page to your bookmarks folder that you open every morning.
2. Yahoo! Alerts – If you are some sort of a celebrity who’s frequently quoted in the press or if you’re a business looking to track your brand mentions in print media, Yahoo! Alerts can be great option. It will send you an email message as soon as there’s a news story in some publication that mentions you or your brand.
3. Google Alerts – Unlike Yahoo! News Alerts that primarily track mainstream media sources, Google Alerts will include stories* from blogs, regular web pages as well as traditional media if you go for the "comprehensive" option. You can even subscribe to Google Alerts in your favorite feed reader.
Google Search vs. Google Alerts – Google Search (mentioned at #1) will find each and every web page that mentions you but Google Alerts will only find web pages that appear in the top twenty results of Google Web search so you are likely to miss some pages if you rely solely on Google Alerts.
4. Facebook Public Search – Facebook has 300+ million members and chances are high that some of them are talking about you or your product in their status updates and wall posts.
Type your name in the Facebook search box (upper right corner) and then use the "Posts by Everyone" option to finds status updates, links and notes written by other Facebook member that mention your name. This will show content from all Facebook members who have enabled their posts to be viewed by people other than friends.
5. Yahoo Pipes (for blogs) – Google Blog Search, Technorati and Bloglines from Ask.com are some popular blog search engines to help you discover blog posts that link to one of your web pages.
You can type the address of your website in this Yahoo! Pipe and it will merge results from all the different blog search engines into one feed that you can either subscribe via email or in your feed reader.
For instance, if you are handling PR for a US based company who just launched a new product in India, you can use a query like "Product Name near:India" to find reactions on Twitter only from India and nearby regions (just what your client wants).
7. Digg Search – Do you know that Digg, like Google, also supports the site: search operator. Use this with your site, choose the "newest first" option and you’ll immediately know when people add your stories on Digg.
They may not hit the front page but will you’ll still know about them – see example.
8. Back Tweets - Type your web domain name and it will show you all messages on Twitter that include a link to your website (see example). This is just like another useful version of Google’s link: operator but for Twitter (see related services).
9. Back Type – Unlike blog search engines that only index blog posts, Back Type indexes the comments left by other users on blog and other social sites including FriendFeed and Digg.
Type the name of your product or service in the search box, choose "all" (default setting is "relevant") and it will help you find comments /discussion on the Internet that mention you (see example).
10. StepRep – This is another brilliant service for online reputation management. It monitors what people are saying about you (or your products) online and will notify you by email when new results are found.
There may be some overlap with Google Alerts but StepRep can routinely discover sites that mention you but have been missed by Google Alerts. You may use your existing Google Account to log into StepRep.
11. Truveo Video – AOL owned Truveo is probably the largest search engine for video that indexes video clips from all possible video sources on the web including YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, and more. And this is precisely the reason why you should prefer Truveo over Google Video Alerts for tracking your brand mentions on video sites.
You can subscribe to Truveo search results in a feed reader.
12. Social Mention – Another excellent service that helps you track your name across different social media sites like Digg, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc. from a central place. You may get results via RSS or subscribe to once-a-day email alerts for all the keywords that you are monitoring on the web.
Assuming that you’ve already verified your site with Webmaster Central, go to "Your site on the web" -> "Links to your site" and there you’ll see a list of all external pages that link to one of your pages. This table can be huge if you run a popular site but there’s an option to export the complete result-set into Excel for further analysis.