How Useful Are Google Alerts?
The usefulness of Google Alerts has been on my mind, since I’ve set up a number of them for clients and myself. But the results always seem random and incomplete. You ever notice that? I wondered, where does Google go to fetch these links? Are there any ways to make “Comprehensive” Google Alerts more comprehensive?
For answers, try LinkedIn Answers
I decided to ask these questions on LinkedIn Answers, which is a tremendous resource. If you’ve never used it, check it out. You’ll get authoritative, detailed responses — very quickly — for just about any business question under the sun.
Google Alert Answers from LinkedIn
Samantha Trunzo from Alpern Rosenthal answered,
I am very specific on my Goolge alert terms. I do find them very helpful as a way to stay up-to-date on any media placements my firm gets. Most of the time we setup all articles and placements, however every now and then you find one that surprises you.
Jeffrey James said,
Using negative keywords in the alert is useful, so if you have an alert for
“generic product type” and you only want to see sites where your company isn’t mentioned, use “generic product type” -your company
Make the best from google alerts by putting quotes around your search term. For example, if I searched my company name as sherpa web studios, I wouldn’t get the best results. However, if searched “sherpa web studios” I would get very specific, quality results.
Select the COMPREHENSIVE option to get the most instances of that name across blogs, news, and the regular index.
Select HTML emails so that you can click directly from the email to the alert instance.
Unless timing is critical, select ONCE A WEEK to keep your inbox clean. I also created a rule for the alerts to go to a subfolder so that it doesn’t clog up my inbox.
Improve your keywords with advanced searches. Simply create the search as you would at http://www.google.com/advanced_search?hl=en and then copy the search string and paste it into the google alert.
Google would probably be best to answer your question: “If the alerts that you are receiving for a particular query are not what you expected, then chances are that the terms you have picked are too broad or include incorrect punctuation. Try performing the same query on the property (Google News, Web, Video, etc.) from where you want to generate the alerts. If the results are too broad, then narrow down your terms. Also try putting quotes around searches with multiple keywords.
If the search returns no results, here are a few other suggestions:
Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
Try different keywords
Try more general keywords
Try fewer keywords
Also try using advanced search queries for your Google Alerts. To learn how to refine your overall Google web searches, visit our general Advanced Search page. To narrow your news searches, try our Advanced News Search page. Once you’re happy with the results you get from an advanced search, copy and paste your advanced search query into the search box on the Google Alerts home page.”
I have to be honest, I would rather use RSS feeds rather than get email alerts any day of the week. You can use the Google Reader, and set up News alerts and everything through news.google.com. Then, you can be a bit broader in your search, possible get a few more articles, but be able to sift through them a lot quicker, and not have to worry about getting a million emails in your inbox.
Separating out private communication (email) from subscribed data (RSS) is very valuable; this way you can check your email throughout the day without getting any junk, and when you’re ready to go through your subscribed items, you can do so all at once. It’s pretty handy.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom!
Do you find this helpful? I hope so. Based on their suggestions, I tweaked several of my alerts and results have improved. My sense is that Google Alerts in not the best option for monitoring online content and conversation. What online tools do you use to keep tabs on who’s saying what on specific topics?
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