Using Google Alerts for Free Social Listening on the Internet

Here at Notifier, we don’t believe that Google Alerts is the best tool you can use for social listening on the internet.

This is actually one of the reasons we will soon be releasing our own version of what we are calling Search Engine Alerts. This will allow our users to receive and perform advanced filtering on mentions of keywords across multiple search engines!

We are very excited about this new feature and you can sign up here for our mailing list in order to get notified when this feature is released.



In the meantime though, we think Google Alerts, even if it’s not perfect, is a great way to start with social listening.

Limitations of Google Alerts

People have been complaining about Google Alerts being broken for years.  The main problem we have noticed with Google Alerts is that they are simply not very accurate for us. And others have noticed this also!

What we mean by this is that Google Alerts will often give you complete results and completely misses over certain articles that it should not.

If you don’t believe us you can even check out this fantastic article by Mention that goes into a lot of detail about exactly why Google Alerts are not enough. Though I have to say I do believe our search engine alerts are going to be doing a much better job than anything mentioned, I do love their articles though! 🙂 

Getting started with Google Alerts

Now that we have made you aware of some of the limitations of Google Alerts, let’s dive in with how we recommend you use them.

To get started, go to this link in order to visit the main Google Alerts page: https://www.google.com/alerts

From here, you can start typing in the text input box and input the keywords that you want to get alerts for whenever Google detects new content for them:

Apparently, Google Alerts is supposed to support all of the search operators that the normal Google search engine supports. Though we do have to say that we have had varying results as to if this actually functions properly.

Here are some things you can try though:

"exact phrase"'

You can rap a phrase in double quotes in order to find an exact match for that phrase.

Dogs AND Cats

Dogs OR Cats

You can also use Boolean operators in order to find matches in strings of text.

For more information on this, you can see this article by Google that details all the possible search operators.

Do you have your keywords input you can then select certain Advanced options for your keywords:

We recommend initially setting your search options to be as broad as possible. Then once you see what results you are getting in, you can slowly start to narrow the results down by using the available filters or search operators.

And that’s it for setting up your Google Alerts! Now you will start getting results in your inbox when Google matches on your keywords (if it works properly 😐 ).

Frequently Asked Questions about Google Alerts

How to turn off or delete Google Alerts

Turn off a Google alert simply. Click on the corresponding trash can icon next to the keyword in the Google Alerts console:

How to use Google Alerts effectively

Effectively, we recommend initially setting your Search terms broad and then slowly filtering them down to more narrow search keywords and operators in order to filter out irrelevant results.

Once you get more familiar with using Google Alerts, it’ll be easier for you to set the right filter operators and search keywords from the get-go.

How to see list of past Google Alerts

No way to do this with Google Alerts. Google Alerts does not keep a history of your results or perform any analytics around those results. That is only something you can get with our more advanced functionality that we are calling search engine alerts. 

Sign up for our mailing list in order to get notified whenever that feature is live!

Why am I not getting emails about my Google Alerts

If you are not getting emails about your Google Alerts, then it’s likely that your Search terms are not set up correctly or Google Alerts is simply not functioning properly. As we have said before, Google Alerts have been broken for years and Google is simply not investing a lot of money into fixing them.

We believe that Google is not fixing them because it goes against their model. They want to incentivize you in order to go and search directly in Google so that they can serve you up ads that you may click on and that they can sell to their customers. Keeping you off their search engine and away from their ads and allowing you to automate your searching is not something they are very interested in doing. Remember, Google is there to sell you as a customer not to automate your life and make it easier.

Why use Google Alerts

Well, we would advise not using them actually! We believe they are completely inaccurate and that they miss out on things like social media which are actually more important to social listen on. But we do have to admit that they are free and they can get you some of the way there to getting started with social listening

More questions about Google Alerts? Be sure to reach out to us and ask questions in the comments below! We will do our best to get them answered ASAP!

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