We learned late last week that Google Alerts, the once tried and true method for monitoring search terms across the web is broken. Have no fear, we've come up with 5 alternatives that you can use.
Some users have been experiencing some issues with Google Alerts, noting that they haven't received alerts as regularly as they once did, if at all. While no one can know for sure what's causing these issues, many of us are left to ponder how we might continue to receive notifications if Google Alerts isn't working.
At first, you might think that finding an alternative to Google Alerts will be easy. Surely there must be other free, easy to use tools? A quick search reveals that this was true -- in 2008. Since then, many of the tools that ranked high on the "must have social media monitoring tools" have shut down, been acquired or have transformed into something much different. What remains is still imperfect, but there are tools that are worth a look.
Topsy is a social search engine that lets users better understand the conversations taking place about their brand across social media and compare up to three queries. Topsy also lets users create alerts. You can be a free or paid subscriber to do so -- all you need to do is sign in with either Twitter or Facebook then enter your email address. Unlike Google Alerts, however, there isn't the ability to customize your alerts or the frequency at which they are received.
To create a Topsy Alert type in a keyword to search. On the results page click Create Alert to set up.
According to Topsy, alerts are sorted according to the influence of the Twitter users that mention the tracked topic, which ensures that the most relevant hits are on top. Of course, this also implies that search words tracked are limited to Twitter and not the entire web.
SocialMention has been a stable of social search engines for quite some time. It provides not only the conversations taking place across social media, blogs, news and many other media, it also provides a sentiment analysis, trending keywords, and hashtags, while making it all exportable. SocialMention also provides the ability to set up email alerts.
At the time of this writing, SocialMention alerts are currently disabled and will return in one week, for unexplained reasons, but probably related to maintenance. Provided that they return as they were, users will be able to set an email alert for the keyword you'd like to monitor. You can select the type of social media platform you want Social Mention to monitor. Most will want to select “All” to get the greatest coverage. You can also select the language and the format for your alert (text v. html).
3. If This Than That
If This Than That is a great tool. It's like the duct tape of marketing automation. Whether you're looking to stay updated about the weather or if you're looking for ways to keep Evernote well-fed with information, If This Than That is there for you. It's also great for setting alerts about keywords. Even better, many of the recipes are already created so you don't have to recreate the wheel, though you can definitely create your own.
Here are a few recipes I found that may help you better monitor your brands and keywords.
- Twitter Keyword mentions to Email Alerts
- Monitor Twitter keyword on Topsy
- Google News keyword to Instapaper
- RSS Keyword Email Alert
Of course, these are just a few and can be customized so you can receive them as emails, texts, or have them sent to other readers. Note that many of the recipes do include Google Reader updates, but as we know those probably won't be around for too much longer.
4. Notification Control
Notification Control isn't so much a social media monitoring tool, as it is a way to help you best manage the alerts you have already set up or need to set up within your existing social media channels. Notification Control links to the notification settings pages of most popular social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Path, StumbleUpon and more, making it easy to clean up your notifications in one fell swoop.
It isn't glamorous, but it could help you streamline your alerts so you don't get overwhelmed. Further more, you may want to set up mailboxes in which these alerts can be directly sent so that they don't add to your inbox clutter.
5. Hyper Alerts
I debated about adding Hyper Alerts to this list, since it's only for Facebook and it's not keyword-based. So I've added it as an honorable mention. Hyper Alerts lets you set up an email alert anytime there is activity on your Facebook Page. Obviously, you can set it up so that Facebook Pages pings you on your phone when there is activity, but if you're like me, my phone is not always where I am at the moment. Hyper Alerts sends an email, within minutes of a comment being posted on your wall. This is especially useful if you need to delegate the task of replying to a team member. There is not a way to set up page alerts with Facebook -- nothing more than having to check your page for updates.
The best thing about Hyper Alerts is that you don't need to be an administrator of the page to set up alerts -- this way you can manage activity happening on other pages. You can also have as many subscriptions as you want, get the alerts within minutes, or a digest every hour, day, week or month. Oh, and it's free.
The Bottom Line
Suffice it to say, Google Alerts is really the only free tool of its kind around. There are plenty paid tools that send alerts about your brand's presence online. Let's hope that these Google Alerts issues are just temporary and that peace will return to the kingdom once again. Until then, these alternatives, while not perfect, may help fill the void.
Did we overlook an alert tool? Tell us in the comments.