Luxembourg-based Talkwalker is a social media monitoring company that has now released its own keyword-based alerts resource. The free service utilizes Google’s Web, news, and blog databases and delivers alerts by email or RSS.
So, are Talkwalker Alerts the Google Alerts replacement many are looking for?
I spent a few hours running several alerts and at this point I’m both optimistic and even impressed.
A few initial impressions follow.
Interface & Registration
The look, feel, and features of Talkwalker Alerts are nearly identical to Google’s alerts service.
Keyword alerts are available for “everything,” news, blogs, and/or discussions. They can be delivered “as it happens” or “once a day.” You can also limit by language and how many results are received:
Simply enter your email and you’re done.
The alert management page also appears nearly identical to Google Alerts. Here you can modify an alert query, grab the RSS URL, delete alerts, and other management tasks.
Overall, the learning curve is minute for those who have use Google’s alert tool. That’s good news for users and Talkwalker.
By the way, Talkwalker also makes it easy to import your current Google alerts.
But Do They Work?
I’ve only been using the service for a few hours, and I need to do more testing, but given the fact that I’ve had issues with the frequency and timeliness of Google Alerts for a long time (long before the current discussion got underway) several of the alerts I created did trigger with new material in a very timely manner.
So, for this reason alone, Talkwalker Alerts are worth being aware of and perhaps taking a look at to see if they meet your needs.
With the alert queries I setup I asked to receive “everything” via email as “soon as it happens.” In one case, I received an alert and learned about two relevant articles (via the Google News database) that were both less than one hour old.
What about new web pages?
In my view, the key to making a usable alert for web content is the ability to make them as specific as possible (if/when required) to avoid irrelevant material caused by language ambiguity, spam sites, etc. This also means taking advantage of advanced search syntax.
Here, Talkwalker is either having some opening day jitters and/or needs some more work. I ran a search for a single keyword and used two pieces of advanced syntax site: and filetype:.
The good news is that Talkwalker found a couple of new items but the advanced syntax was not applied.
So, either advanced syntax does not work (hopefully this will change) or there was a glitch since another alert I created used the site: operator and returned a correct result.
Whatever the case, Talkwalker does need to add some help and documentation as soon as possible.
Nothing Is Perfect
One issue I have with this service is similar to an issue with Google Alerts. I know I’m not being alerted to material, and in some cases, a lot of material. If you’re tracking yourself, a competitor, an issue important to you, missing something can cause a lot of problems.
Sure, no alert service, even the ones that cost big money are perfect, but trusting you’re seeing all relevant material in a timely manner is crucial. I do my best to solve this by having a number of alerting tools and services working for me.
Trust is likely not an issue for everyone but nevertheless it needs to be considered.
Running a Google search and limiting by time period and sorting by date can clue you into some of this material.
For example, an alert I created should show a steady flow of new material being added all the time. However, the email alert I received only has one result and it’s ten days old.
There are a lot of reasons why this might be happening and hopefully the Talkwalker team will work to improve the service, something that Google hasn’t been doing for a long time.
Overall, it’s great to see this service emerge.
While it’s far from perfect (what is?) and given that is has only been available for a few hours, I’m both optimistic and impressed especially when it comes to the news portion of the service. To receive an email with links to relevant and current news stories, in some cases, less than one hour old, is good reason to offer kudos to Talkwalker.
In about three hours of testing, all five of my alerts have triggered for a total of 15 alert messages, some listing multiple relevant and very timely items.