Google Alerts: Still Broken

Google logoLast month, I wrote my Dear Google Alerts: Why Aren’t You Working? story. Soon after, Google told me things were improved. That’s not been the case for me; and now, another open letter about how poorly the service is working has appeared.

The latest letter is from The Financial Brand, a website for financial marketers. It writes, in part:

The Financial Brand has frequently encouraged bank and credit union marketing executives around the world to use Google Alerts. This advice is now fully retracted.Google Alerts was once a very important and efficient tool to monitor mentions of your brand on the web. It is now so unreliable that it has been rendered effectively useless.

The letter covers the same thing I and others have found, that some time late last year, Google Alerts effectively stopped finding new news content and other fresh material, as they were supposed to.

Three days after my post, Google — which had no on-the-record statement about what was wrong — at least told me that things should be working better. They haven’t been. Since that time, I’ve seen no change with Google Alerts. It’s continued to miss finding stuff I know it should be locating.

I’ll check again with Google about what’s up. Until then, I’m surprised Bing hasn’t dived in to launch Bing Alerts. We’ll also be working up a list of Google Alert alternatives. Stay tuned.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | 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.

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  • Guest

    I’m much in the same boat Danny. It’s not even consistently unreliable (e.g. getting news alerts 24 hours late). I’ve gotten some immediate updates, others that take 1-5 days, and others that are simply weeks old. Definitely a ripe opportunity for somebody…

  • Neal Schmidt

    Still in Beta, but is a good alternative worth checking out.

  • Wendy Piersall

    With alerts being fed through RSS, and Reader being closed, it seems as though Google is simply dumping all products and services in this category. FeedBurner is probably going to be gone in the next 6-12 months.

    I think this is so foolish on their part. These ‘old-time’ technologies have become daily stops for their entrenched users (like me). And the ONLY reason I see my G+ alerts is because they appear in the header of Reader. Taking these products away from their hardcore users is likely to diminish usage of their newer apps simply by the loss of facetime with their products.


  • Ina Steiner

    Danny, I’ve found Google News itself to be frustrating since December, broad searches with stale items hanging around, smaller news sites buried.

    Neal, looks interesting, how do I check to see if you’ve got EcommerceBytes as a source? We do original reporting on ecommerce. Thanks!

  • Matt Nagel

    AGREE. I thought it was just me, but Google News search results and Google Alerts have not been reliable for the past few months. (I’ve been cross-referencing with Yahoo News, which also has alerts by the way.)

  • CyberAlert, Inc.

    Agreed – Google Alerts can definitely be frustrating. Some popular stand-ins seem to be Moreover (from Yahoo), and Technorati is probably the best free option to track social media.

    Reddit and Digg are also definitely worth a shot… a little different, but you can actually search for submitted stories that match your keywords.

    At the end of the day, you get what you pay for…free is free. If you’re looking for something more comprehensive (with less issues) CyberAlert does offer 14-day free trials. Don’t be afraid to check us out!

  • Tom Armenante

    Has anyone tried the mentions tracker from Ahrefs

    Its a new tool they have launched will be interested to know how it compares.

  • Neal Schmidt

    Ina, Resultly doesn’t check that source yet. Anything you want added though, just let me know. I’m gonna integrate EcommerceBytes in the next few days.

  • Tim Archambault

    SEOMoz Followerwonk is working well for me.

  • Alan

    Google Alerts makes Google no direct income and as we have seen with iGoogle and reader and quite a few other useful but not directly income producing products, Google will not allocate much resource to them for a while and then eventually drop them. I think alerts is in the first stage where no resource is being allocated. Obviously something has happened to the way peripheral apps integrate with the index and alerts hasn’t got the resource to update to the new method and probably will never be updated. Eventually it will also go the way of the Dodo.

  • Billy Liar

    Google search seems completely broken. Words included in search terms are ignored and results are returned which do not contain the word you included to narrow the search results :/

  • Angela Booth

    It looks as if Google’s getting rid of everything which doesn’t earn its keep. They’re forsaking their core business (search), for silliness like Google Glasses.

  • Robin331

    It really easy. Just see current google serp, where only few authority sites searchable. How google alerts can know about new and fresh sites if main google index contain only few (like preselected) sites???? Their spam wars killing normal but small sites.

  • Robin331

    it so easy to see now, all this google updates only to make money & optimize earnings. Only money but not quality things.

  • Nelson Caldwell

    Fresh Web Explorer, too (in beta but seems promising). Not free, however – available only to SEOMozPRO accounts.

  • Ravi Kumar

    Could Google panda not be able to find good content from their news feed? Is it that so?

  • Jeremy Floyd

    Danny, when I read your article in February, it confirmed the oddities that I had been experiencing since December with Google alerts. A few weeks later I started testing the viable alternatives. Then when Google canned Reader, I accelerated the testing and put together a post with my experiences Looks like Mashable was on the same line with the Mention post yesterday.

    I can’t imagine Google killing alerts, but the latency has become unbearable. Funny note, after posting Google Alerts may be Dead, suddenly my alerts are about 50% faster. Purely coincidence.

  • Mark Frisk

    Your link doesn’t seem to be working. Would like to see what you’ve put together. I’ve been using Mention for about a month. It’s interesting.

  • Jeremy Floyd

    Thanks Mark. I fixed that link.

  • Ina Steiner

    Wendy – “And the ONLY reason I see my G+ alerts is because they appear in the header of Reader.” That’s a great point!


    Something has changed with the way they’re indexing the web as well. Especially regarding Craigslist. I find far fewer ads the past few weeks.

  • kristophe

    Want to give a try to talkwalker alerts – a free alternative to Google Alerts?

  • Thibaut Britz


    You might also try out Talkwalker Alerts ( You can also import your existing google alerts into Talkwalker Alerts and receive the alerts by email or rssfeed.

    We use our own crawlers to collect the data, and don’t rely on third party services like other services.

    Searchengineland also reported about this a few days later:

  • edythewiseman

    my classmate’s sister makes $76/hour on the computer. She has been for laid off for 9 months but last month her paycheck was $16155 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on  Ask25.c­om

  • Sue Lange

    Can’t wait to see the list of alternatives. I was looking for one when I found your blog. Oddly a Google search for alternatives is not returning any results. Wonder why.

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