Google Alerts used to be a no-brainer for nonprofits monitoring their online reputations. It’s free, it’s easy to use, you could get delivery via email or RSS–what more do you need?
Recently though, complaints across the web have accused Google Alerts of being “Broken–” and that’s a nice way to say it . Sadly, our experience is consistent-Google Alerts is on its way out.
Still using Google Alerts? Here are three reasons it’s time to move on:
- Google Alerts are delivered late–or never: It’s not unusual to get your Alerts several days or a full week after a story gets published—or never. You need this information in real-time–and you need to feel confident that you’ll get it to begin with.
- Google eliminated RSS delivery: Google Reader was a great way to monitor Alerts without having them clog up your email inbox. Maybe some people don’t mind showing up to work to find 67 unread Alerts but I am not one of them. I (and many of my colleagues) preferred having Alerts delivered to the now defunct Google Reader (ha…), where I could read at my leisure. Even though there are some great RSS substitutes to Google Reader (like Feedly), Google allows Alerts to be delivered only to an email address–not another reader.
- Google might pull the plug at any time: So far, it’s only rumored that Google is going to pull the plug on Alerts, but would it be so surprising? They’re clearly limiting its indexing ability, delaying Alerts from showing up, and paring down functionality (like RSS). Maybe Google is hoping that enough people leave voluntarily to avoid a PR disaster ala the Google Reader shutdown. I’m not going to stick around to find out.
Luckily, there are good alternatives out there like Talkwalker Alerts, which our team has been using for a couple months. We think it’s the best online listening tool since, well, Google Alerts. Like Google Alerts, Talkwaker is free and monitors blogs, forums, and websites for keyword related content. But unlike Google Alerts, Talkwalker Alerts are delivered on time and are much more comprehensive. Also, you have the option to deliver your results to RSS feeds, which helps keep inbox clutter to a minimum.
Have you found an alternative to Google Alerts? If so, what is it?