When Google Alerts Doesn’t Work


If you are responsible for brand monitoring, vanity searching (aka Googling yourself), or measuring social media temperament for your company, you’re probably using Google Alerts. If you aren’t, you should go and sign up for their notification system. It’s pretty good.

If you have been using Google Alerts for a while though, you might notice that things sometimes slip through unnoticed. I’ve seen entire news articles, blogs, and other publications missed by Google Alerts (including a feature from Bloomberg BusinessWeek). Also, it usually doesn’t track social media results. So I have other alert systems in place like Topsy, Tweetdeck, Sprout Social, etc.

Let’s face it: no notification system will catch all of the results. Even the enterprise systems are faulty by nature. It’s especially important to track things as they come up each day when you launch a press release or awareness campaign but you can’t rely on notification systems alone.

So, when it comes to new listings on Google, this is what I do:

  1. Go to Google.com and use boolean search techniques. For example, when looking for content related to The Slants, I type in “The Slants” (with quotation marks). If I want to look at results associated with me directly, I add my name to it (“The Slants” AND Simon).
    Searching The Slants
  2. When the results appear, click on “Search Tools” in the top right hand corner. You’ll see new options appear under the menu: “Any time,” “All results,” and the location where you are.
    The Slants search guide
  3. Search for the most recent results by clicking on “Any Time.” You can search by results that have appeared as recently as the last hour, the past 24 hours, week, month, year, and so on. If you want to see the results of your PR efforts, this is especially helpful because you can narrow down results based starting in the range of your campaign.
    Better Google Searches
    What I do us run a search every day and use the “Past 24 hours” option. That way, I never miss something that has posted but I also limit the number of results that would otherwise  be there. It’s much easier to quickly go through a few pages of content instead of a hundreds. If I miss a day or two, I use the “Past Week” option. Further sorting makes this process even easier.
  4. When you select a date range, a new option appears with the default setting on “Sorted by Relevance.” Click on that to change it to “Sorted by date.” If you are running searches on a regular basis, this lets you focus on the newest content. When you see duplicate results, you know that everything else beyond that list is older and has already been seen.

    Sort searches by date

  5. Finally, you can further refine searches by with the “All results” tab. This let’s you monitor by reading level, private posts (usually from your own G+ account), by location, and so on.

    Refining Google results

While this process might seem clunky, it is thorough. Like keeping your email inbox or files organized, regular attention will let you go through the process very quickly. It takes me less than 20 minutes per day to go through this process for over a dozen brands and search terms. If I’m mid-campaign, I’ll run this multiple times throughout the day and important results into the database. It saves a lot of time (and headaches) digging through the thousands of results if I skip this important step or only rely on Google Alerts to get the job done.

One thought on “When Google Alerts Doesn’t Work

  1. Hi

    If you are using Google Alerts, you might want to check out my App, Neuoogle, in the Apple Store. Neuoogle works in a similar way to Google Alerts, but provides the capability to manage all of your searches within a single application. No more switching between a web browser, RSS or email client and then back to a browser to read the article.

    Furthermore we utilise notifications, telling you exactly which search has new results, meaning you can choose to either action the notification or leave it until later.

    Lastly, we support a additional filtering, including by URL or region.

    Neuoogle is free and is currently an iPhone only app. The android version is coming very soon.

    Neuoogle Team

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