If you work in search, PR or content marketing, you may have experienced an alarming drop off in Google Alerts recently.

Search pioneers and industry specific verticals that rely heavily on tracking competitors via Google Alerts have recently noticed the feed slow to a trickle of what it used to be, but the show must go on!

So, here are some ingenious alternatives from the experts to keep you plugged in.

As content marketing executive for Econsultancy, I have dozens of news alerts set across different verticals we provide best practice on, and I’ve also noticed a drop in numbers across the board.

For background, or if you’d like to join the growing community of discontent online, check out these posts on The Financial Brand and Search Engine Land. Both have very healthy comment threads running on possible reasons for the shift, and direct to Google forums where users are asking directly about the problem.

Instead of joining the chorus, this post will focus on solutions and alternatives.

Competitor Newsrooms + Netvibes (Optional: Yahoo Pipes/Term Extractor module)

This example comes to us from a previous post by Graham Charlton on identifying search keywordsAndrew Girdwood (@AndrewGirdwood), Media Innovations director at LBi, initially breaks down the solution stating: 

“An oldie but a goodie is Yahoo Pipes and the Term Extractor module. This module will let you automate your text scanning, for example; an RSS feed of competitor press releases or new products and automate the process of picking out the most significant words. Combine this with IFTTT and Google Docs and you can build a custom keyword suggestion list.”

The term extractor fed via Yahoo Pipes is an additional elegant solution for content marketers who want to populate spreadsheets automatically with the keywords their competitors use in press releases.

A top-down blogging approach that factors in these keywords and subjects is part of what our Director of Product Chris Lake calls “gap analysis” strategy. For more check out his post on content marketing A-Z here

Google Reader + Google Takeout + Feedrinse

This one is from Richard Baxter (@richardbaxter) at SEOGadget. Hats off from me as I had not heard of Feedrinse before!

“I like to run RSS feeds through something like FeedRinse – for example you could set something up for your entire vertical that excludes certain brands (i.e. your own) and includes any mention of sensitive keywords, areas of opportunity or areas of concern”

I’ve gone ahead and built on Richard’s excellent tip in Feedrinse. Since Google has recently shut down Reader (one of its only useful consumer web products IMHO) don’t forget that your RSS feeds are saved automatically in Google Takeout.

Get your CSV here first so you can save time with your sources!

Muckrack/Lissted Search + Digest Email Alerts

Anyone who reads my musings here on Econsultancy related to content marketing already knows I’m a huge fan of the services Muckrack and Lissted – which act as filters on top of the Twitter firehose to let you access only tweets from journalists.

Sign up for either of these services, and you can set keyword search terms to be delivered to your inbox just like a Google Alert.

According to our Social Media Manager Matt Owen, Twitter is our third largest referral source and since news breaks on Twitter first, journalists have taken to it by storm.

Little Bird/Traackr + Newsle

Marshall Kirkpatrick (@marshallk), CEO of Little Bird, has been taking advantage of web mashups and APIs since his blogging days with ReadWriteWeb and Techcrunch, and this great tip came straight from him when he first walked me through Little Bird, an influencer discovery tool he founded.

After identifying experts, influencers, and high quality content for a topic of your choice (I recommend both Little Bird and Traackr for this purpose due to the number of features and access to Twitter data they provide) be sure to connect with them on LinkedIn, and Facebook if appropriate.

There is a Gmail plugin called Rapportive that makes connecting with the folks you are in discussion with easy. You can grab that here.

Once you’ve connected with them, head over to the free news/content aggregator Newsle where you can again plug in your Facebook/LinkedIn identity for a custom feed of your connections (and friends of connections) who are mentioned in publicly available news stories.

For some tracking competitors may be a bit difficult through this method, but most of us in business subscribe to the adage, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

Looking forward to hearing about any other creative solutions or insights from people in comments!

Ryan Sommer

Published 21 March, 2013 by Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer is web veteran and recovering expat who contributes to Econsultancy on startups, content marketing and new media. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter, or add him to your circles on Google+

91 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (6)

Save or Cancel

Adam Parker

Hi Ryan

Thanks for the mention for Lissted!

I thought it might be helpful to provide a few metrics to give some idea of the scale of Lissted's real time tracking/indexing.

Our current database consists of almost 25,000 media related Twitter accounts made up of 6,000 outlet accounts like @WSJ, @BBCNews and (of course) @Econsultancy :) and approx 17,000 individual journalists, bloggers and analysts.

Geographically the split is around 45% UK, 45% US and 10% RoW.

Across the list we are looking at 5.7m tweets a month, along with their 2.7m related links.

Hope that's helpful, but if anyone has any specific questions I'll keep an eye on the comments or @me (@AdParker)

Thanks again.

over 5 years ago


تعارف بلاك بيري

i’m adding your blog rss feed so that i can see your new posts. keep up the good work!

over 5 years ago


Phil Reed

Thanks, Ryan. As a PR and social media agency, Google Alerts were always the quickest and easiest way of tracking relevant content, but they've become increasingly unreliable to the point where the service has fallen into disrepute. I hadn't seen The Financial Brand's post, but I agree with it entirely. Google losing interest in search? Mmm...

over 5 years ago

Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer, Freelance Consultant

Thanks for the comment Phil.

I remain curious as to what Google will announce (if anything) regarding the issue with alerts.

over 5 years ago

John Smith

John Smith, Marketing at ABC

For LinkedIn I would highly recommend their Signal tool:


It's a great way to filter through status updates and news using a variety of criteria, including geography, industry, topics and the place of a person in your network. You can also run your own search filters.

Unlike a lot of the other services linked to in this article, it's free too (at least for the time being).

over 5 years ago

Aaron Kocourek

Aaron Kocourek, Chief Strategist at Reputation Advocate

Google Alerts has always been pretty much worthless anyways. Anyone who is serious about monitoring their online mentions wouldn't rely on it alone.

over 5 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.