Frontiers of Business – Reputation Management – Custom Google Search

To continue this series on using free, web based systems to easily monitor the online business enviroment I am going to focus on creating custom Google searches to find what is being said about your company and products online.

The simplest method, of course, is to search for your products on Google’s News site. For an example, we’ll use McDonalds.

Note how scattered this search is, as of 4:00 today news results from New Zealand, the UK, Virginia and California in the first results. If your product/company name is unique, simple and localized this may be all you need. To tighten up the results, we can limit this search in a number of ways.

The first, is to restrict the search to a single website. I’ll use McDonalds and my favorite consumer affairs website, the Consumerist. This works from the standard Google search, not the news site. Google uses ‘site:’ to limit searches to a single site, so our search string will be

Mcdonalds site:Consumerist.com

Notice how much more focused this is. There is specific, negative responses to McDonalds promoting through blogs and on elementary school report cards. This could be applied to any consumer affairs site.

The second way in which I’ll show you how to limit search results is by using – and +, what us library nerds would call Boolean logic. I’m going back to Google News now, and I’ll show a couple of search strings. Let’s imagine that I’m looking for news stories relating only to the coffee McDondalds sells, nothing else.

The search string:

McDonalds +Coffee – hamburgers -burritos -salad

This is a silly example, and as you can see the results are not that effective. I’ll give another more effective one.

As part of my religious studies hobby I follow news stories on a variety of religious groups, including the LDS Church (Mormons, Latter-day Saints, the guys with the white shirts and nametags at your door). Part of the problem I ran into with a simple ‘Mormon’ search was the incredable number of Mormon Roads and Boulevards that are out there. I was getting an overwhelming number of crime reports from Kansas. Also, LDS is an acronym used in farm futures, so I got a lot of data regarding hog prices and wheat futures in my religious studies RSS feed. Over time I tweaked the search to go like this

Mormon OR LDS -Road -Boulevard -Blvd -“DTN Cattle Close/Trends”

Note what happens there, Road, Boulevard and Blvd are excluded, as is the specific title of the report that kept popping farm data up.

You can target these search strings down until you are pulling in exactly what you want. When your done, grab the RSS feed for the search and let your RSS reader do the work of pulling everything together.

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