Dear Google Alerts: Why Aren’t You Working?

Google logoOne of Google’s oldest features is Google Alerts, where you can enter keywords you want to monitor and get an email report each day about any new search results that match those terms. It was awesome; but for several weeks, it’s become nearly useless.

My long-standing settings have been for Google to check each day against “Everything” and bring back any new listings with my name in them. That has meant it routinely finds blog posts, webpages and news articles with references.

Here’s a typical example from the end of November:

Google Alerts

Usually, there are a few new web mentions, occasionally a news citation and often a blog post highlighted. But consider my most recent report today:

Google Alert - danny sullivan

That’s it. My entire report. And it’s been pretty much like that for weeks. In the past week, it has failed to find where I’ve been cited in several news stories, despite the fact that I can find these when I search at Google directly.

I’m checking with Google on what’s going on. In the meantime, if you’re finding that Google Alerts aren’t working as well as they did in the past (and some are), it’s probably not you — it’s Google. Hear that, Katy Perry? It’s Google, not you.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Features: Analysis | Google: Alerts | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • Gabor Por

    I have the same experience. Recently several of my google alerts started to contain only 1 or 2 references, while if I do a search on the same day for the same term (and limiting it for results only for the “last day”) I would get dozens of hits. “Glad” to read I am not the only one.

  • victorpan

    Might be time to switch to a new tool… I’m experiencing the same thing…

  • duane forrester

    Funny you mention this Danny – It was on my mind earlier this week – just as I planned to set up fresh alerts… now, maybe it just won’t happen… shame, too, as its a great feature. Fingers crossed its just a bug and not a feature deprecation…

  • bogdanch

    I’ve had the same problem for most of my Alerts for a long time.. Some people on Quora are already searching for alternatives It would be great if Google would fit it though…

  • robthespy

    Google Alerts worked?

  • E Harris

    I have noticed a reduction in alerts on the insurance side of the business. I have about 20 different alerts and the number of alerts each day is down about 30%. But in fairness, most of the alerts are legitimate and relevant.

  • Bayram KALIN

    Paylaşımlarınız için teşekkürler.

  • Toby Barnett

    I’ve noticed the same with G-alerts. While I know that more real estate people are discussing the market conditions, non of the alerts reflect those discussions. Do you think Google may phase out the service?

  • Boston Online Mkt

    Any tools you know of to replace Google alerts?

  • Danny Sullivan

    Oh, you know Duane, Bing Alerts….

  • meg m.

    Thanks so much for mentioning this – I thought it was just on my end!

  • Alan

    As I see it there are 2 things that probably will make Google dump Google Alerts.

    1) G+ integration has to be a part of every Google Product as per Larry Pages command. Maybe the Google alerts team are finding it hard to do this.

    2) It doesn’t directly make Google billions per year.

    My guess is it will eventually go the way of iGoogle and the Dodo.

  • Skylights

    It was not helpful for me. Most alerts return sites that return to blog sites promoting products from shop sites with URL you can’t even pronounce. When you browse those sites you can’t find anything valuable, always promoting their product. When you do the actual search, results are really different

  • Rosa Hayes Florence

    I use google alerts and I hadn’t even noticed that they weren’t working. I actually have one for my name and my business so that I could check out the buzz and see what people are saying about me and my products.

  • Sanket Patel

    I think you set particular keyword with day wise in the google alert search settings. Then google definitely give you a proper detail about alerts.

  • Luca Proculo Gentile

    I also have the same problem!

  • Gregory Smith

    This sounds like a personal problem lol

  • Nick Ker

    Katy Perry won’t hear that. Her Google alerts aren’t working.

  • Haresh

    Is it feel bad when any helpful tool does not work, i think after this post Google may try to improve this service, because google daily taking backup so may be they read my comment and improve !!!

  • Rich Owings

    Yep. I used to get several a day for different terms, but for the most part they stopped last fall.

  • Zoran Knezevic

    I have also noticed that they have become very unreliable. I guess they show you alert only if it shows on top 10 results for that query not all new discoveries… anyway I am not so happy with google alerts at all. It seems Google loosing it’s breath a bit.

  • Deboti Chowdhury

    Wow, this is strange. But I only have alerts for blogs and it’s working. I’ll keep an eye if I’m having any such problem but not noticing. Thanks Danny.

  • Enrique

    Yes. I too experience the same problem and glad to see there were lots of people like me

  • Guy

    Does anyone know a good alternative for google alerts?

  • free dating sites

    I noticed this long time back almost 8 months back. It has become a useless. You also get yahoo answer and some junk content articles in news…

  • Aging Workforce News

    Aargh! Thanks for this article. I had sensed something without paying attention, and you are absolutely correct. I am now only getting 1 or 2 links a day. Please post if you learn more.

  • Frank Strong

    I’d echo some of the comments here to say, I haven’t seen Google Alerts work effectively in years. Especially when I was using a good news monitoring tool that crossed news, blogs, comments and social — you could really see the contrast. I’d come in every morning and find 20 different mentions in monitoring, but not a thing from Google Alerts. All these people that suggest Google Alerts as a monitoring tool — I see a top 5 free monitoring tool post at least once a week — literally don’t know what they don’t know.

  • Kevin Ouellette

    Google Alerts just isn’t worth using anymore if you rely on it for anything remotely important. I went oldschool and bookmarked all my queries. I just filter them to the past 24 hours and check them once or twice a day.

    I have to imagine Google doesn’t care about Alerts anymore if they’d let it flake out like this for so long, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they sunset it.

  • DannyB

    Google Alerts is not working for me for years now. It seems to send random notifications at best. I agree with some other commenters – it looks like this product is in maintenance mode, and may be a candidate for elimination.

  • Karin

    I have been having the same problem. I appreciate you looking into the problem and letting us know.

  • Pete Stean

    I’m finding that it isn’t working at all any longer – time to find another solution!

  • Christoph Kleine

    Ok. This explains a lot. Or at least why I was not able to read any brand alerts in the last weeks. I just thought those companies suck at PR.
    Two things I would be interested in this particular case:

    How do you recieve alerts? Via E-Mail oder Reader? (with everything in mind that went down yesterday)

    Did some of you recently switch accounts? That’s something that happened to me once. I had the whole RSS Reader exported and re-imported into a new apps account and the alerts just stopped coming because the connection between the alert- and reader-account was gone.

  • The Financial Brand

    Great suggestion for a quick-and-dirty replacement solution.

  • Louise

    Hi Danny,

    We’d be prepared to pay to find out why we’re not showing up on Google Alerts.

    We’ve been working on it for nearly three months and nothing has changed, yet our competitors are making the lists daily – why? They weren’t before (pre-mid-November), and are now. Our organisation has over 100 employees, has been around for over 46 years and has a solid, reputable website with a good percentage of local traffic. The competitor has a blog. If you can shed some light on this issue I know a group who’d be very, very grateful.


  • ClickBrain

    Shameless self promotion alert:

    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 by keywords and by feeds. 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.

    Beta Signup:

  • Edouard – Mention

    Thanks for the great article. That’s exactly the reason we’ve built, a powerful free alternative to Google Alerts.

  • Jeremy Pepper

    I’ve noticed that it stopped working about a year ago – they also stopped scanning more than just the headline and first paragraph (or so it seemed).

  • The Travel Tart

    Had the same issue here. Google alerts are becoming more or less useless for me at the moment.



  • antiquemaster

    Will try bookmarking instead instead.

  • antiquemaster

    There’s, but haven’t taken it out for a spin though!

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide