It seems like the Google Alerts team is up to some new tricks. A couple weeks ago, Google tweaked the quality algorithm of Google Alerts and, although I missed it then TechCrunch noticed, they dropped the web alerts option.
In regards to the quality change, Googler Marcel said:
Regarding the volume of alerts, we’ve been tweaking Alerts from a quality point of view to try and avoid sending things that people aren’t interested in. If you want more results, change the “Email length” setting for your alerts from “up to 20 results” to “up to 50 results” – you’ll get more results with looser filtering.
In regards to dropping the web filter in exchange for the “everything” drop down, Google said:
We’re contacting you because you have an alert of type Web. We’ve decided to retire Web alerts because (1) they are used by very few people and (2) an alert of type Everything will find the same results.
This week we’ll be changing all alerts of type Web into alerts of type Everything. Your alert will continue to include results from all kinds of web sites.
You may receive more results after this change. If you find that you are getting too many results, you can change the “How often” setting to “once a day” or “once a week.” You can also change your search query. You can do this on the alerts management page (www.google.com/alerts/manage), or by removing the alert using the link at the bottom of each alert email and creating it again with different settings.
We hope that you’ll continue to find your alert useful.
Here is a current picture of the options you can get Google Alerts for, including everything, news, blogs, videos, and discussions. Everything does include web results and I believe it was originally named “comprehensive”:
The last time we saw a significant upgrade to Google Alerts was when Google Alerts added RSS as a subscription option back in 2008.