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An Open Letter to Google: Google Alerts Broken, Now Useless To Financial Marketers

Dear Google,

Subscribe TodayFor years, you maintained one of the simplest, most powerful tools on the internet: Google Alerts. Anyone with a Google account could just sign in and create an email alert for any subject that interested them. All you had to do was type in a search term and enter your email address. From then on, whenever Google found new search results for that term, they would email you an alert. It was beautiful. It’s like RSS feeds; if you use them, you know how awesome they can be.

If, for instance, you wanted to monitor mentions of your company, or your competitors, or industry trends like “gamification” or “big data,” you could create Google Alerts and receive a steady stream of new articles, blog posts, websites, press releases, videos, etc. — right in your inbox. Granted, some of the results were junk, but there was plenty of gold as well.

Since The Financial Brand was launched back in 2008, the site has relied heavily on Google Alerts. The site maintains 50 Alerts for everything from “bank marketing” to “credit union Facebook promotion.” Hundreds upon hundreds of articles published on the site have been the direct result of leads that originated through Google Alerts. As much as 35% to 45% of the content shared on The Financial Brand’s website and social channels once stemmed from this service. (Note 1)

google_alerts

Three of the 50 Google Alerts that The Financial Brand once used. Google used to deliver results for these search terms via email, but The Financial Brand hasn’t seen anything for these three (and others) in months. Perform a regular Google search for these terms and you can find all kinds of new/current information.

But things have changed. Big time. Starting sometime last year, The Financial Brand started receiving fewer and fewer Google Alerts. And when the Alerts did arrive, they contained fewer and fewer results. It’s gone from lots of Alerts, to many, to some, to a few… down to a trickle. Users can forget about creating any new Alerts — those pretty much won’t work at all. Indeed the volume of Alerts has decreased by at least 80%, dropping from 20-35 emails per day with 4-12 results each down to 4-8 emails per day with 1-3 results each. And the results are crummier than ever.

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Reports about Google Alerts breakdown are all over the place (here, here, here, here, and here for instance). How does Google respond? With trite, dismissive, evasive “customer service” crutches like, “Hi all, thanks for the update. We’re currently investigating this.” Phbbbt…

Google, you know your Alerts system is busted, so why won’t you fix it? Or is it your intent to slowly wean users off Google Alerts by deliberately making them less relevant, less frequent and less useful until one day you can just pull the plug entirely?

Bottom Line: The Financial Brand has frequently encouraged bank and credit union marketing executives around the world to use Google Alerts. This advice is now fully retracted. Google Alerts was once a very important and efficient tool to monitor mentions of your brand on the web. It is now so unreliable that it has been rendered effectively useless. (Note 2)

These are the kind of Google Alerts a bank or credit union might have ran in the past. But there’s no value in Google’s automated search service when the system fails to catch 95% of the relevant material. If you want to monitor your own brand on the web, you now have to remember to manually run a Google search on a regular basis.

Google has lost touch with its core business model: search. Searching the internet is what Google is was known for, it is was what Google (once) did better than everyone else. But Google has become distracted with “Shiny New Syndrome,” wasting tremendous amounts of time and energy (yours and ours) on ideas that fall way outside the search model. And yes, that does mean Google+.

So get back to your roots, focus on search, and please: get Google Alerts back up and running. Because if Google isn’t good for search, what’s it good for at all?

Sincerely,

Jeffry Pilcher, Publisher
The Financial Brand

Note 1: Since this post was published, it’s circulated far beyond the banking industry. Some newcomers to the site are mistakenly interpreting The Financial Brand’s use of Google Alerts as “lazy journalism” — that The Financial Brand simply publishes cut-and-paste press releases found in Google Alerts. Regular readers know that this is simply not the case. Google Alerts are used by The Financial Brand to identify material that can be incorporated into wholly original articles, such as financial institutions that just started using Facebook, checking account and loan promotions, banks and credit unions that are undertaking name changes or rebranding projects, etc.

Note 2: There are some people out who feel The Financial Brand has “unrealistic expectations of a free service that doesn’t include ads.” They have misinterpreted this open letter as a demand “to fix a free service.” That is not true in the slightest. The Financial Brand needs a service that works, and doesn’t care about paying for it. If Google needed to include ads or require payment in order to maintain its Alerts service, that would have been fine. What is not acceptable is Google’s handling and mismanagement of its Alert service — whether it’s free, ad-supported, pay-to-play or otherwise, it makes no difference: the service does not perform as advertised, nor does it perform like it used to. The fundamental issue is integrity (of service, of corporate character). If Google wanted to make changes to the service, phase it out, reduce costs or increase revenues, they should have communicated with their user base. Their coy response towards problems they know exist with Google Alerts’ is shameful.


EditorJoin hundreds of the brightest minds in banking at The Financial Brand Forum, April 30th and May 1st for two full days jam-packed with the latest ideas, insights and innovations in financial marketing. Highlights include keynote speaker Josh Reich from Simple/BBVA, three makeovers live on stage, and an all-star agenda with speakers from Wells Fargo, US Bank, PNC, Navy Federal, Facebook, Nintendo, BMO, banking futurist Brett King and many more!

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Comments

  1. Christian Jensen says:

    I thought it was just me.

    Sounds like an opportunity for someone else to step in :)

  2. FiltrSoft says:

    These apps for Android are similar to Google Alerts:

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=FiltrSoft

  3. I have noticed the same thing, but thought it was just that the sites and alerts I requested were for words and sites that had gone rather stagnant. Jeffry’s experience mirrors my own, exactly, in terms of the alert results and value therefrom. In the meantime, Google’s doing all sorts of stuff that’s completely irrelevant to this low level user.

    I would think that the biggest impact of the mistake Google is making here is that the resulting number of pageviews of websites has decreased significantly. This seriously affects those who depend on pageviews to market their products and services. One might never be aware of a valuable source of information without effective Google Alerts. This is a huge downer for internet commerce.

  4. When Jack Schofield saw this article, he also admitted he thought it was just him.

  5. While I’m not completely unsympathetic, that’s what you get for relying too heavily in a third party for your core business needs. Honestly, if google alerts was accounting for 35%-45% of your content was a direct result of google alerts as you say, you’re doing it wrong. Time to start doing your own legwork.

  6. It’s not just Google Alerts, it’s sloppy QA all around, one step forward, two steps back. Even gmail would not restore it’s *main* buttons properly for many months.

    Android feels like Windows. It doesn’t forget its settings as much as Windows, but more often then not I won’t get a new email notification. Basics like the dialer that crashes…

    I guess the TD;DR is that Google won’t surprise us anymore.

    They now need “Customer Service”, and that means users now need to get educated instead of resolving the issue in the first place…

    My fear is that soon the real Google will fall over as obesity sets in.

  7. Ed, we do plenty of “legwork” here, including dozens of proprietary annual studies — many one-of-a-kind in the financial industry.

    If you’re accusing The Financial Brand of “lazy journalism,” that is not the case. The Financial Brand uses Google Alerts to find new financial institutions starting out on Facebook. I think you’re assuming that The Financial Brand simply copy-pastes press releases from Google Alerts. Google Alerts are used to find things like website redesigns. Google Alerts are used to identify banks and credit unions that are undergoing name changes and rebrands. All these are used as first-hand sources for original articles.

    The site is not an “aggregation” service. Regular readers of The Financial Brand know this.

  8. Sorry, I didn’t mean that, but I see now that I came off that way. My point is that your were relying too heavily on a (free) third party API that you have no control over. Now it has put you in a bit of a rough spot.

  9. I’d pay for the service, if that’s what it takes. I’m already looking at Mention, SEOmoz and Bing’s RSS feature.

    Using third-party tools (like pretty much everything on the internet) is an inescapable reality for anyone engaged in the writing profession today. While some folks may be critical of my reliance on a single third-party tool like Google Alerts, the truth is that the service does not do what it once did, nor does it behave as promised or advertised (now or in the past). Whether it’s free or not, it is no longer functioning at any reasonable level. Which brings into question the integrity of other Google products, like Google Apps (which I have paid for), and Google Analytics. These are “third-party” tools that everyone trusts because the Google brand is behind them. Or is that trust misplaced as well?

  10. I’ve noticed this too. We started using the free version of Mention and in its daily reports, it gives you many more links (generally 2-4x) than Google Alerts. Worth checking out.

  11. I’m personally suffering the exact same frustration as Google just removed ANOTHER application I was using them for.

    They are not making it “pay”, they are simply removing it (Google Reader). I’m done with them.

  12. Agree. I’ve had Alerts going on all sorts of topics since 2006 or so, and the volume in each alert seems to have plunged around 2010 or so. At first I thought it was due to spam-filtering, since the shrinking also reduced how much spam was included, but they never recovered.

  13. > Because if Google isn’t good for search, what’s it good for at all?

    It’s been quite some time since google started the trend of sucking at searching, removing useful search operators and providing less relevant results and so on.

    What is google good at ? spying on people, buying potential competitors to kill their product, offering free products to drive competition out of business and then killing their own product.

    You can forget google as an internet search company, these times are long gone, google has been an advertisement reseller company for a while now and their main business in a not so far future will be selling cars that drive themselves around.

  14. You are absolutely right [name]. Google has been on the decline for a long time. One of the biggest frustrations was how they screwed up one advanced search operator in particular. When they launched Google+, they killed the use of the plus-sign as a search operator. For those who aren’t familiar with how the plus-sign worked, it would tell Google that any/all search results “must contain” that expression. Google tried to tell people it was no big deal, but power users know the truth: it completely handicaps searches. Google says you can use quotes as a replacement, but that operator already means something else in Google searches (i.e., “find this exact phrase”).

    In the old days, you’d Google: +banking “Facebook promotion”

    This would return results containing the exact phrase “Facebook promotion,” but would only display results containing the word “banking.”

    Nowadays, Google wants you to search like this: “banking” “Facebook promotion”

    The results are completely different. Google will return results for just about anything containing either expression, without giving weight to any particular term.

    Bottom line here is that they killed a very useful, necessary feature for their own damn benefit (so people could search for Google+ pages). They did so with a flagrant disregard for their users, and did so without providing a functional replacement.

  15. 2 years ago we felt this pain, mostly around the query capabilities of Google Alerts being weak, and as a result getting lots of noise on query terms that aren’t very unique.

    So we started building Intigi to help us keep track of companies, products and trends we care about.

    I recommend to try Intigi as a replacement for Google Alerts (and Google Reader). Disclaimer: It’s a for pay product and I’m one of the co-founders.

  16. Um, look at the Volume column. Your alerts are set to only send you “the best results.” If you want to get all results, edit ach alert and select “All Results”

  17. You say you’d pay for a service like this. Im actually working on a prototype for a similar service like Google Alerts and would like to ask a couple questions.

    How much would you pay for a service like this?

    Is there anything about Alerts you would change or a feature you would like to see?

  18. Jo, The Financial Brand has been massaging some search expressions in Google Alerts for years, refining with advanced operators to weed out false positives (e.g., “food” banks, “blood” banks, the “West Bank” in Israel, etc.). Maybe it wasn’t the ideal system, but it was familiar and functional. I’ll check out Intigi though. Thanks for the heads up.

  19. Eli, you are only seeing 3 of The Financial Brand’s 50 search terms. If you think you’re talking to a rookie Googler, you aren’t. More than half the Google Alerts in The Financial Brand’s list are set to “all results.” It makes no difference. If you think what I’m experiencing is unique to me, you need to go look around a little more. Whether your Alerts are set to “all results” or “only the best,” users are getting fewer and fewer and fewer results.

    It’s also worth pointing out that many of The Financial Brand’s Google Alerts were initially set to “all results,” but there were so many results flooding in that they needed to be tuned to “only the best.” That was a few years ago. But as the results started drying up, I’ve had to loosen the reigns on more and more Alerts and return them back to “all results” — with no tangible impact.

  20. Diran, I’d say somewhere in the range of $12.95 per month up to $35. Unlimited search terms would be one factor. The other would be quality of results.

    Convincing most consumers to pay for a previously free service is a tough road to hoe. There’s a perfect analogy in the banking world. Free checking has been around for three decades now. Consumers are so accustomed to getting it for free that they’ve held protests when banks try to introduce fees.

  21. Hi Editor, I’m a Google software engineer who is actually familiar with the code involved with parsing search operators.

    I’m sorry you’ve had some frustrated experiences with Google search. But I’d like to clear up one common misconception, for the record.

    Editor wrote:
    > In the old days, you’d Google: +banking “Facebook promotion”
    >
    > This would return results containing the exact phrase
    > “Facebook promotion,” but would only display results
    > containing the word “banking.”

    > Nowadays, Google wants you to search like this:
    > “banking” “Facebook promotion”

    > The results are completely different. Google will return
    > results for just about anything containing either expression,
    > without giving weight to any particular term.

    I assure you that, internally,
    +banking “facebook promotion”
    and
    “banking” “facebook promotion”
    LITERALLY meant the same thing. I’m talking about, in the code. Literally. The same thing.

    I understand the frustration of having a feature removed that you found convenient. I used the + operator myself, just to save keystrokes. The decision to unlaunch the + operator was made based on analysis of user behavior. Our official statement was, “We’re sensitive to the needs of both newer users and ‘power users’ alike, and we’re always looking for ways to improve search for both groups. We make changes to search after rigorous testing shows that they improve the user experience.”

    If you don’t want to have to type quotes around all of your terms, we also introduced Verbatim Mode a few years ago:
    http://support.google.com/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1734130

  22. Thanks Jeremy. I guess the changes in results users of advanced search operators are feeling is a consequence of the “Freshness” update. It’s also worth noting that your description of how the advanced search operators worked is not how Google officially explained them: quotes = “exact phrase,” plus-sign = “must include.” If what you’re saying is true, then Google misrepresented how advanced search operators worked. But more importantly, Google — the erstwhile champion of search — should have provided these advanced search operators, because there is clearly a need to filter results with “exact phrases” and “must include” terms.

    So now how about hearing from someone in the Alerts department, while we have Google’s attention?

  23. To Jeremy; Regarding the “+” operator.
    That’s the way it is now. But I’m 100% sure that’s not the way it was before. I remember back in the early days I looked up how to do efficient searches in the Help, and I was struck by how elegant the + and – were and I immediately stopped using AltaVista and Go for good (damn that was probably 10-15 years ago!). I used it often, and I did get different result pages.
    Google is definitely not sensitive to the needs of power users. It looks after its own business, which is perfectly understandable and required. But these disingenuous press releases like the one quoted above erode trust.

  24. Thanks for this article. I have noticed the same thing for years, and working in PR this is especially important. You need results as they are coming in and you need them to be accurate. We’re building a product that will solve this search problem and several others. Please excuse the shameless self-promotion here, but if anyone is interested we have a few hundred private beta invites left. You can sign up at http://www.sudosearch.com

    Thanks again for getting this dialogue going.

  25. Brad Nickel says:

    We are launching a new service for marketers, reporters, and publishers to solve this issue and to replace Google Reader, but with far more powerful capabilities. viaPulse will give you the news you want in the categories you care about and tells you what news is trending on all major social networks. We will be going into private beta in 3 weeks. If you or anyone reading this is interested, please sign up for our private beta.

    Home:
    http://viaPulse.com
    Beta Signup:
    http://viapulse.com/sign-up/

    Thank you,
    Brad Nickel

  26. Hey Jeffry,

    I’ve heard this a lot from folks. Please take a look at trackur.com. We offer plans starting at just $27 a month and include email alerts–and much more. I’d be happy to offer 50% off your first month (and for your readers).

    Thanks!

    Andy Beal
    CEO, Trackur

  27. Janelda Mitchell says:

    Great article and great comments. I too use(d) Google Alerts to monitor our 6 separate companies. Now when I DO get an Alert, I’m momentarily startled. *what is that?!*

    Thanks fellow readers for the alternatives you’ve mentioned. I’ll definitely check them out!

  28. Frank Gilkeson says:

    There was a time when you could direct the alert output to a blog instead of only to an email address. Alert would automatically create a blog post. But that feature was being “misused” to generate spam blogger websites and was withdrawn. I wasn’t abusing the feature and was sorry to see it go but such is progress.

  29. Thank you so much. As others have said, I thought it was just me.

  30. I’ve seen the fall-off of Alerts too. I’ve decided that it is due to Google trying to apply its profile of your account to your returns. I see this as part of an overarching strategy by Google to quit giving you “unfiltered” returns. Reader allowed you to get hits on your own. Alerts let you get hits regardless of how they fit your Google profile. Once Google finally fully implements non-organic returns, this game will be over. Try using a different account to use Google and see what happens. Try using Google when you are logged out of your account and see what happens. My guess is you’ll notice the difference.

  31. James Smits says:

    Jeffry,

    Great read, thanks for writing. As an alternative to Google Alerts, I would like to suggest Panther Logic (http://www.pantherlogic.com/) — full disclosure, I am an investor. If you contact the info line, they would be happy to set you up on a Beta.

    Cheers,

    James Smits
    Partner, Tigerlabs

  32. Yahoo Alerts. Use keyword alerts
    http://alerts.yahoo.com/knews_editalert.php?.done=http://alerts.yahoo.com/myalerts.php&show=keynews

  33. Bing now has a similar feature to Google’s Alert feature. Don’t know how good it is, but it does exist:
    http://www.bing.com/news?q=top+stories#

    Look for Actions on right hand bottom of page

  34. Funny… you can even see the demise of Google Alerts using one of Google’s own tools: Google Trends.

    You can see Google Alerts growing, growing, growing… then starts to sluff off in early- to mid 2012 — right when everyone started feeling the decline in results. The graph seems to suggest Google Alerts will reach full rigor mortis sometime in 2014, maybe 2015. That is, if Google doesn’t put a bullet to its head sooner.

  35. Clearly google is tapering back so that you go to google search and participate in driving their adwords revenue. Wake up the list — its the classic drug dealer sales model.

  36. Thanks for the great article. That’s exactly the reason why we’ve built https://mention.net, a powerful free alternative to Google Alerts. http://blog.mention.net/google-alerts-dont-work-anymore/

  37. To Andy Beal at Trackur, James Smits at PantherLogic, Diran developing a new alert system, Jo Hund at Intigi, et al. If anyone wants to build their business replacing Google Alerts, consider a FREE month of use. At the end of the month, if a new user likes the system, they can THEN sign up. If you believe in your product/service, every one-month trial should 1. outperform Google Alerts in both volume and quality, and 2. result in most free trials converting to paid subscriptions. I would also suggest scaling the subscription price: Up to 10 alert words/phrases = $X, 10-50 = $Y, 50-200 = $Z, etc. I’d love to try a head to head on all of them and pick the best one. Or pool all your resources into one company and bury Google Alerts forever. Probably dreaming…

  38. Hey Chuck, we offer a 10 day trial, but for you (and anyone else) I’ll up it to 30 days. Just email help AT trackur.com and we’ll take care of it. :-)

    To be clear, we offer MUCH more than Google Alerts. Email alerts is just a small portion of what we offer, but I don’t want to hijack the comments with a sales pitch.

  39. Noticed the same problem.

    Solved it by using Mention.net

  40. I’m intrigued by all the options being discussed as possible replacements for Google Alerts, but honestly, I don’t have the time to evaluate them all. That kind of analysis would be best performed by a tech site.

    One of my primary concerns is that Solution X might be great at capturing social mentions, while Solution Z is better at capturing web references. I definitely need both. The overarching goal isn’t “reputation management,” it’s finding leads for stories and staying abreast of everything in the English-speaking bank marketing world.

    What would really help is if all these possible Google replacement services allowed prospects to “test a search” to see what comes up. Personally, I don’t need a 30-day trial period to tell if a new service will work for me or not. I’ve been running pretty much the same searches for the last five years, and I know what quality results vs. junk results look like. If I could see the results for 5-10 of my searches, I’d know whether I was interested.

    So if anyone wants to take me up on that offer, here are a few representative searches. You can run them through your system and email me the results.

    – “social media” banking
    – banking “big data”
    – “flagship branch”
    – “branch of the future”
    – “bank customers” study
    – “credit union” facebook promotion

    I have my Google searches massaged to remove as many false-positives as possible. That means filtering results to eliminate references to “food banks,” “blood banks,” “the West Bank,” “Tyra Banks,” “piggy banks,” and dozens of common spammy expressions like “[it’s] money in the bank,” “that you can take to the bank.”

    In the meantime, I’ve turned all my Google Alerts into regular Google searches that I’ve bookmarked (which I’m almost certain is exactly what Google wants us to do). Even though I’ve further refined my search terms and limited results to the “last 24 hours,” it is nowhere near the same thing as Google Alerts. You have to wade through a mountain of crap to find any glimmer.

  41. I am not fully agreed with you here.
    Yes Search is the best product Google has produced, but with the changes whcih Google is doing, search has improved a lot.
    Also I agree with you, that Google alerts have decreases in recent times, which I think is Google is now working on some of its free services which are not generating revenues.
    New products which Google has launched are associated with search or are going to improve your personalized search.

  42. For me Google Alerts was a disappointing tool starting with 2011 when I started using it in order to monitor some competitors. The results were very poor and after more than 1 year I was forced to stop the alerts and concentrate on other solutions.

  43. Björn Leenen says:

    Hi Jeffry,

    Thank you for publishing this article. This article showed up on Linkedin and I found it interesting to read. Normally not in my scope (financial). I thought it was just me, but Mention has a new (free) member for now. If I am satisfied, I might even sign up ;)

    Again, thanks for sharing,

    Björn

  44. You have my sympathy. I’m still mourning the imminent departure of Google Reader. I used Google Alerts, and have observed similar behavior: Paucity of result quality and quantity. You might try Rowfeeder. The nice young man who runs it has been in business for at least four years. I’ve used the no-pay version. It’s reliable. You can do test queries for free, without signing up for any 30-day trials.

    I enjoyed your use of Google Trends to predict the demise of Google Alerts (in the comments). Too bad you couldn’t have done that with Google Flu! Hmm… idle thought: I wonder if Google Flu could be adapted for tracking financial news, instead of syndromic surveillance, serving as a functional proxy for near-moribund Google Alerts?

    Anyway, your plight was even covered in a 21 March ComputerWorld article, Are Google Alerts Dying a Slow Death. Impressive. And, best of all, your post has been +1’d on Google+ at least 75 times. Maybe Google will notice.

  45. Ellie,

    Thanks for your comment. The article wasn’t just picked up by ComputerWorld. It was picked up by Mashable, VentureBeat and HackerNews as well.

    Someone from Google noticed this article, because they popped into the conversation in these comments to suggest that we don’t know WTF we’re talking about here.

  46. Susan Dyer says:

    Thanks for writing this! I too have noticed the Google Alerts issue, and thought is was user error on my part.

  47. I’m so glad to have found this post and this site! As a single Mom chasing my entrepreneurial dream, there are to few honest, reliable and useful places on the net. After snooping around a bit I’ve noticed this site is not only just informative but its great for even the newbie wanna be business woman as myself. Looking forward to connecting with others who share my passion for technology. All that rambling aside, I actually stopped using Google Alerts a while back and it’s refreshing to see I wasn’t the only one. I look forward to checking out some of the options stated above. For someone like me who is literally BROKE lol the only option for the time being is “free”. Hopefully when I become a billionaire in the future, I will be able to pay hahaha!! (I know its a DREAM lol) Anyway, thanks for the info and I’ll be sharing, pinning and tweeting your posts!

  48. I have also noticed a problem with the search operators in Google Alerts. I have one keyword I’m tracking and put in a bunch of negative search operators of non-relevant topics and it was filling the alert with those negative words. I just put quotes around the one word I’m tracking to see if that helps.

    PS. I’ve tried Mention but rarely get a notice from there but then I don’t have much time for social stuff either.

  49. Until recently my blog posts were picked up by Google alert, but no longer. Thankfully, my page ranking in my category is still relatively high, but I have seen my numbers halved since the alerts ended.

  50. It wouldn’t help the service if Google Alerts was paid for. Ask long-time Adwords users how many times they were mistreated, no matter how big their Google account was. Google knows how to work with computers, they don’t know how to work with people.

  51. Jonathan says:

    Does Mention allow you to use search operators? Google Alerts does allow advanced search operators which is a very useful tool.

  52. Mention does allow for the filtering of searches, but not using the same Boolean operators that Google does. The Mention system is a little more intuitive. The fields used to specify searches on Mention include:

    – “At least one of the following expressions” (must include at least one term/phrase defined, up to 5)
    – “And all of the following expressions” (must include all terms/phrases defined, up to 5)
    – “And none of the following expressions” (works like Google’s minus operator, up to 5)
    – “Languages” (e.g., English, French, Spanish)
    – “Sources” (e.g., news, blogs, videos, forums, web)
    – “Blocked URLs” (sites you want to exclude from search results)

  53. AllGeekThings says:

    Thank you for this post. We rely heavily on Google Alerts at work then I started using it personally. I’ve been testing certain keywords and noticed that Google seems to favour posts from blogspot blogs. It’s either really broken or it’s deliberate.

    I will definitely check out mention and some of the other suggestions as we are clearly missing things being said about our brand.

  54. First of All..

    Thank You Google for the non-announcement of killing Alerts. You are not living up to your “Do No Harm” mantra.

    Been playing with mention for the last couple of days, and although I really want to love it. I don’t. It’s just clumsy.
    There is always a trade off between simplicity and functionality. And although the interface looks nice, something so rudimentary as adding a new alert is simple, it’s also clumsy and slow.

    If you are someone who is used to Google Alerts Search schema, you will not like setting up new alerts in mention. Google allows you to export all of the time you spent setting up boolean searches, but Mention won’t accept them as is, so you have to deconstruct all your alerts and feed each piece in manually into mention. Now if you only have 2 alerts, then it’s no big deal.

    But, If you currently monitor a bunch of stuff in google alerts, lets say 5 competitors, 10 partners, 10 industry publications, and some other related industries, you may have 25 Alerts.

    I have 40 alerts.
    The reason is to use each alert to filter out the sites you don’t want, competitors sites, unrelated news reports like news sources from india, or the UK or words you may share from unrelated industries, for example.
    The more you exclusions you have in your search, the less false alerts.

    There may be 50-100 different Words or Sites that you want to exclude. So with mention, you have to put in all those 50 sites, over and over again for every Alert, which again is very clumsy.
    Just give me a long string field where I can paste, a bunch of comma separated Blacklist URLs all at once, instead of one by one.

    Mention should have had a Global Word Blacklist, and a Global Site Blacklist, so that when you create a new alert you can manually add a blacklist Word or Site, but also go to the Global list and Check box off the Words or Sites that have already been entered previously. Or just hit the add global Site Blacklist and add them all, then you won’t have to keep entering the same 50 sites over and over again.

    Even the Alert words fields are clumsy. There are way to short. So if you are trying to construct a search with 10 words in it, you will find yourself no being able to read the last 3 words because the field size isn’t long enough.
    The interface is just poorly thought out.

    Some of the alerts I created have not come back with results, and I’ve been waiting for 2 days. Even though the google alert with the same search have returned 20+ results in the last 2 days. Not sure what’s going on there.

    I love the idea of mention, but the execution is clunky at best.
    I really really want it to be better. I hope they fix it.
    If someone has a better alternative, please let us all know.

  55. I agree. I did some statistical analysis of all my Alerts-related emails back to January 2007 in http://www.gwern.net/Google%20Alerts , and I found that in May/June 2011, the number of links in my Alerts emails fell by *127*! This substantially reduced its usefulness to me.

  56. I have been using Google Alerts for years, they were great while they lasted. I no longer trust Google as a company, Is there a solution? No. I hope Google goes out of business, or a new boy on the block arises, or the Internet is doomed to be the place where the trickiest companies thrive.

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