Google Alerts as a Content Source

In addition to using questions you receive from people to generate content, Google Alerts are also a good content source.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts are emails that let you know when there are news items, blog posts, videos, etc. on a certain topic.

What you do is go to and enter search terms (words and phrases related to the topic of your site) you'd like to track.

There are some options to choose when setting up an alert.

The alert “Type” default is “Everything”, which will provide you alerts from news, blogs, realtime, video, and discussions.

“How often” enables you to choose to receive alerts as it happens, once a day, or once a week.

“Volume” gives the choice of only the best results and all results.

I typically go with all types of alerts, once a day, and only the best results.

As I receive the alerts, I will go through them and check whether any of them are targeted and interesting enough to report on with my own commentary.

In addition to providing a constant flow of content, Google Alerts also enable you to expose your audience to breaking news, as well as new and unique resources, tips, and ideas.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. You need to get a domain and hosting for your site before you start creating content.

Make “Ask the Expert” Videos

I answer questions I receive at on video, and then transcribe those answers to make blog posts.

Shawn Collins on YouTube

Video isn't for everybody, and I am not going to teach you how to create videos here, as that's a whole big tutorial in itself. But I will say that it's easier than I expected.

Back in late 2006, I decided I wanted to learn how to edit video, so I forced myself.

When I wrote the copy for my business Christmas cards, I included a note for people to go to a link to see a special video message. That gave me about a week to figure out video and get a video posted to put on that page.

I ended up purchasing Sony Vegas video editing software for the PC and had a completed video inside of a couple hours – just from looking at a couple tutorials.

Also, whenever I've gotten stuck, I've found that there are tons of videos on YouTube on how to do things with video editing software.

You don't have to sound or look like a newscaster. I film all of my videos in one take without a script with a Casio Exilim EX-FH20 and a tripod. I like that camera, and it enables me to shoot in HD, but really any camera that records video will do.

Anyhow, the reason I include video in the process is that YouTube is the #2 search engine. So why settle for having your original content indexed in Google, when you can also have it in YouTube?

When I answer the questions on video, my answers are in natural language and naturally keyword rich. There are services to transcribe audio, but my answers are just a minute or two long, so I transcribe them myself.

I include the questions as I receive them, so they are asked the way people really ask questions. I typically see variations of the same dozen questions or so, and I answer each with their minor differences.

As you might imagine, this strategy works well, because I achieve long-tail penetration.

Some people might get annoyed to sort of repeatedly answer the same questions. I embrace the chance to have my content out there for as many variations of a search as possible.

You can see my YouTube channel at

Speaking of Google (they own YouTube if you didn't know), you can also use Google Alerts as a regular source for new content.

Become an Expert on Your Topic

One of the main reasons people go online is to solve problems, whether they be questions about their nagging cough, fixing a gutter, recovering a password or what have you.

Ask the ExpertThat's where you come in. You're the expert on the topic you'll be blogging about (or you will be soon).

As I mentioned in my previous post (How to Create Content for Your Site), I created a site where people could ask me questions with the promise that I'd answer them on my blog.

My site for asking questions about affiliate marketing is The site is simply a submission form and a thank you page.

I keep the form quick and easy. If you'd like to include some sort of upsell and/or collect additional information, check out how Tim Carter collects questions.

I created the question page as a standalone site a while back and managed to get the site indexed well for my name, so I don't want to mess with that. But there is no reason why you should do that – it's easier to just have the form as a page on your blog.

Ask Shawn Collins in Google

Anyhow, there are a number of ways you could put together the form to collect the questions. I like to use Freedback, which enables me to have each submission hit an online database, as well as being emailed to me.

Also, Feedback sends an auto-reply to the person submitting the question, so you have a chance to remind them to opt-in to a newsletter, subscribe to your RSS feed, or some other action to keep them coming back to your site.

While you are setting up a question form in Freedback, go to the account tab and select Spam Settings. On that page, you can choose to add a CAPTCHA to your question submission process to reduce or eliminate spam submissions.

spam settings in Freedback

I have a CAPTCHA and get few junky submissions.

The easiest way to answer these questions is by writing a blog post with the question the person asked and then your answer.

In the event you are not equipped to answer a question, just do a little research and cite your source(s).

You can see my past answers from submissions to my form in the Ask Shawn Collins category of my blog.

Some other Ask the Expert site examples are Ask Dave Taylor, Ask Leo, and Ask the Mama (my wife).

As you can see with those domains, you can go with branding yourself and your name or make it more about the topic.

You can stick with text for your answers, but adding video to the mix is a great enhancement for your site and to get more reach in the search engines.

How to Create Content for Your Site

Now that you've figured out which topic you want to cover, you've got to start generating unique and useful content.

content ideasOne of the biggest hurdles in running an affiliate site based on content is simply coming up with the content.

I ran into that situation early on in my blogging days, which started in 2004.

Over the years, I figured out ways for the content to come to me.

One thing I did was to take a page from the book of home building expert, Tim Carter, and his site, Ask the Builder.

Based on his extensive experience building homes, Tim made himself available to answer questions related to home repair and building.

He would then answer them on video and in text in posts on his blog.

I also use Google Alerts to help me with ideas to create content by tracking keywords to find relevant news stories, blog posts, etc.

Next up, I'll explain both setting up your site to accept questions, making videos, and how to use Google Alerts to track news stories.