What Is Google Alerts & How to Use it Right (Guide w/ Tips)

What Is Google Alerts & How to Use it Right (Guide w/ Tips)

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Google Alerts is a free service that helps you stay informed about specific topics on the web. It works by monitoring the web for new content, such as news articles, blog posts, or scientific research, that matches your chosen keywords or phrases. When Google finds new content that matches your criteria, it sends you an email notification.

Google Alerts is a convenient way to stay up-to-date on the latest information about your interests, whether it’s news about your company, or mentions of your name online.

In this blog post, we’re going to dive deep into the benefits and limitations of using Google alerts, the different ways you can use them, and Tips to make the most of this service.

What is Google Alerts?

Google Alerts is a content change detection and notification service, offered by the search engine company Google. The service sends emails to the user when it finds new results—such as web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, or scientific research—that match the user’s search term(s). Here’s how it generally works:

1. Setup: Users can set up Google Alerts by entering the search terms they are interested in monitoring. Google then scans the internet for new content related to these terms.

2. Frequency: Users can specify how often they want to receive alerts. Options typically include “as-it-happens,” “once a day,” and “once a week.”

3. Sources: Users can also select the types of sources they are interested in, such as news, blogs, web, or comprehensive (which includes all types).

4. Language and Region: Alerts can be filtered by language and geographic region for more targeted results.

5. Delivery: Users choose where to receive alerts, either via email or as an RSS feed.

google alerts logo

Benefits of Google Alerts

Google Alerts is particularly useful for monitoring mentions of one’s name, company, brands, competitors, or industry trends online. It provides a simple way to keep an eye on what’s being said about specific topics without having to manually search for them each time.

The service is beneficial for every business, as it monitors brands. More precisely a user can get alerts whenever their company or product name is mentioned, or every time someone leaves a comment about your current or new products or services. You can also monitor and organize mentions of company executives, as it affects the reputation of the organization.

Simultaneously, the algorithm helps you stay on top of your customers’ activities while keeping an eye on your competitors and discovering influencers. Staying up to date with everything related to your industry is the most efficient way to evolve your niche.

Limitations of Google Alerts

No social media: Unlike other social monitoring tools, Google Alerts doesn’t monitor social mentions on popular social media platforms like Facebook, X/Twitter, or Instagram. This can be a significant drawback, as social media has become a major source of information and discussion.

Limited to indexed pages: It only monitors indexed pages on the web. This means it might miss content from private forums, password-protected pages, or new websites that haven’t been indexed yet.
Functionality limitations:

No analytics: Google Alerts simply delivers alerts, but doesn’t offer any tools to analyze the data. You can’t track trends, compare mentions over time, or gain insights into the sentiment of the content.

Limited search complexity: You cannot combine multiple searches into one alert and have a limit of 32 keywords per alert, which can limit its effectiveness for complex topics.

Requires a Google Account: You need a Google account to use the service.

Email-based notifications: Alerts are only delivered via email, which may not be the most convenient option for everyone.

Potential for information overload: Depending on your settings, you might receive a large number of alerts, making it difficult to manage and stay focused.

If you want to try a Google Alerts alternative that has the same features and also monitors social media, give Mentionlytics a free try:

Try Mentionlytics for FREE

6 Ways to Use Google Alerts

It’s time to check the six most common use cases for Google Alerts that will boost your brand monitoring game.

ways to use google alerts

1. Tracking brand mentions

Tracking mentions concerning your brand is highly beneficial, as you can gain useful insights about what is being said about your brand online.

Media monitoring and tracking allow you to receive feedback, and objective insight and take advantage of reputation management opportunities. Protecting your online presence is more than necessary in the digital world where everyone trusts online recommendations, comments, and reviews in real-time.

Understanding the way others interact with your products or services is crucial for your business. Online conversations can help you monitor your competitors’ actions, find influencers, and lead on social media, while AI sentiment analysis allows you to understand how your customers feel and resolve any issue, misunderstanding, or potential PR crisis.

2. Following media coverage

Google Alerts can be used as a news monitoring tool, serving as an essential component of your PR (press) clipping strategy. Media coverage is everything that has to do with broadcasting on television, newspapers, and the radio.

Why is it important?

Well, media coverage communicates your message to a wider audience and helps boost your business’s credibility while making your activities stand out.

It is a powerful monitoring tool, as it can help you get people’s attention around your brand and at the same time create an emotional connection with them.

Media coverage is all about enhancing your credibility and expertise as a company and creating a strong bond with your audience, which results in customer loyalty and trust. This will be extremely useful in case you receive negative publicity.

3. Keeping up with research

Keeping up with research enables you to stay up to date about developments, Google news, trends, and leads, and identify growth opportunities for your brand.

Research is important as it allows you to expand your knowledge, get access to the latest information on your field, build up your credibility, narrow your scope in case you’re not sure where to start, and get better at distinguishing between low-quality and high-quality information.

On that note, you can discover new topics and ideas, be more curious, reach out to a wider audience, and get better at problem-solving. No matter the type of business you run, you should never forget to research if you want to stand out from your competitors.

4. Managing brand reputation

Your brand online reputation is the perception your customers have about your business. The stronger your reputation the better for your brand, as more people will trust and advocate for you.

Managing your online reputation means being aware of public perception and using it in a way that benefits you and that means having to deal with feedback, addressing comments in public, allowing stakeholders to post about their experiences, and engaging with your audience.

Gaining your customer’s trust should be your goal, as your customer can spread awareness about your brand and its products or services. Word of mouth communication is a tool with many possibilities; you should be aware of them and use them for enhancing your online reputation.

5. Tracking competitors

Of course, tracking your competitors’ actions is part of this list. Keeping an eye on competition helps you comprehend better your competitive advantages and disadvantages over others.

Understanding your competitors’ plans and actions allows you to receive valuable information about what can make you stand out from them and avoid mistakes or decisions that can be proven harmful to your brand. Identifying what they managed poorly gives you a heads up on minimizing failures.

In addition, paying attention to what your competitors do motivates you to constantly improve your strategies, find leads, stay up to date, and be prepared for potential crises.

6. Keeping an eye on SEO

SEO makes your business more visible online. So, the more people find you online, and the more your traffic increases, the more chances you have to be discovered online. SEO is about quality and quantity; that means building trust with your customers and attracting more clients.

The more you gain their trust, the better the SEO and UX of your digital marketing. Over time your business will keep growing and so you will optimize your digital marketing strategy and business altogether. Ranking on search engine results will happen organically over time as you invest more and more in SEO.

8 Types of Google Alerts You Can Create

Now, it’s time to check the types of Google alerts you can create. Keep in mind that these 8 types are in fact sources. So, for example, when selecting blogs, you will receive notifications when your search term is used in blog posts.

alert settings

1. Automatic Google Alerts

This type of Google Alert generates a wide range of results automatically and it covers a variety of topics.

2. News Google Alerts

News alerts send email alerts to users about content changes on the web. It monitors web pages, news articles, blog posts, and updated scientific research.

3. Blogs Google Alerts

Blogs alerts keep you up to date about the latest blog posts and articles. Every time there is a new blog release the system will send you a notification.

4. Web Google Alerts

Web alerts can help you keep an eye on and monitor websites and detect website changes based on your preferences and the keywords you inserted. You’ll receive instant notifications about everything on the web.

5. Video Google Alerts

Video alerts will keep you posted about video content related to your brand industry and based on the keywords you chose.

6. Books Google Alerts

Book alerts are perfect not only for authors, but others as well, as they immediately deliver value. You can gain insights about other authors book titles, and events, and get inspiration and ideas about your next moves.

7. Discussions Google Alerts

Discussions are everywhere on the web and social media, so being aware of what is being said and what your audience wants to talk about either about your brand or in general is a definite advantage you should benefit from.

8. Finance Google Alerts

Lastly, you can set up finance alerts. These alerts will keep you informed about stocks, prices, financial news and accounts, and everything related to the business world in terms of finance.

3 Tips on Taking Your Google Alerts to the Next Level

It’s important to do your best when it comes to improving your alerts and generating the results you want. So, let us guide you through these 3 tips that will take your Google Alerts to the next level.

Tip #1: Cover search query variations and common misspellings of your search term

Even though Google gets better and better at identifying misspelled words, it doesn’t always identify mistakes. That’s why it’s important to include the most common misspellings of your search when setting up an alert; doing this will allow you to get more comprehensive results, especially when monitoring your brand’s online presence.

Including common misspellings of branded keywords ensures you don’t miss any conversations about your company, products, or services.

According to Google, spelling is still a challenge in terms of typing the right keyword, as many words are being misspelled, so new words are constantly being introduced. So, the real question is how to optimize misspelled words. Well, the first step is to do keyword research, before optimizing your website.

Try the following steps:

  • Search your website record to find out how to users misspell your brand or products
  • Check the misspelling lists
  • Use a typo generator

Tip #2: Make use of Google’s search operators to narrow your results

Boolean search helps you specify your search results and as there are different types of Google search operators, each of them can have impact on your Google Alert results.

For example:

  • Quotation marks (“word”): Using quotes in your keywords will allow you to track down results that exactly matching results, unlike the broad results you will get by doing a standard search
  • The minus symbol (-): It’s an exclusion symbol that helps you remove words that you don’t want to find while searching online
  • Plus symbol (+): Using this symbol allows you to include words that you wish to find in your search results
  • Asterisk (*): Use a wildcard as a space that could be filled with anything
  • Site: If you want more results derived from a specific website, this command will generate those results
  • Related: If you want results that have more than several websites with similar content to another site, you can use the word related
  • Info: This word will allow you to detect information related to the field you want results from. This word makes it easy for you to identify pages with the domain text on the page, resembling on-site pages, and the website’s stock

Tip #3: Deliver your notifications to an RSS feed or use Google Inbox to avoid jamming 

Connect your notifications to an RSS feed or the Google inbox to avoid email notifications from Google Alerts. Instead, setting up your notifications as an RSS feed means having them all in one place.

How to do that?

  • Go to your alerts home page
  • Click on the pencil icon to edit your alert
  • From the dropdown next to “Deliver To,” select “RSS Feed” and then click the “Update Alert” button

Adding Google Alerts to an RSS feed allows you to view customized Google Alerts from a source you chose to stay informed about the latest news and content. This is the best way to use Google Alerts to avoid jamming your email inbox.

Now Over to You

Google Alerts is a handful when it comes to monitoring a brand and managing its online reputation. Now, you have everything you need to set up your account, use them appropriately, and make the most out of them.

However, if you need a more powerful tool with precise alerts, sentiment analysis, and social media monitoring, you can sign up for Mentionlytics and try all the premium features for free.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does it mean when you get a Google Alert?

Receiving a Google Alert means that Google has found new results (like web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, or scientific research) that match the search terms you’ve set up for monitoring. It’s an indication that there is new content on the internet related to your interests or specified topics.

Are Google Alerts immediate?

Google Alerts can be set to “as it happens,” which means you’ll receive alerts shortly after new content is published. However, the immediacy can vary based on the frequency setting you choose, with options also including “once a day” and “once a week.”

What data does Google Alerts collect?

Google Alerts does not collect personal data from users. It gathers information based on the search terms entered by the user, monitoring the web for new content related to those terms. The service then notifies the user about this new content through email or RSS feeds, depending on the user’s preference.

What Is Google Alerts Used for?

Google Alerts are used for

  • Content and notification change detection
  • Online reputation management
  • Scientific research

Where do Google Alerts show up?

Google Alerts show up in your email inbox, RSS feed, or Google inbox.

What is better than Google Alerts?

The best Google Alerts alternatives include:

  • Mentionlytics
  • Birdeye
  • Sprout Social
  • Brandwatch
Vasiliki Kati

About Vasiliki Kati

An enthusiastic person who loves working in international teams. Vasiliki is a junior content writer at Mentionlytics, passionate about marketing communications and languages.