Are your Google Alerts not working? Maybe you’ve set it up wrong. But before we walk you through how to correctly set up a Google Alert for yourself, let’s revisit how does Google Alerts work.
Google Alerts are a way to monitor the search results for a given query. In theory, setting up a Google Alert is a great time-saver, because you get an email from Google whenever your specified query shows up on the web. These web alerts are useful for a number of reasons:
There’s also good old-fashioned curiosity and ego-stroking. Maybe you just like to know when people are talking about you, and you don’t want to have to comb the results on a regular basis. No shame in that! (Well, maybe a little shame.)
It takes a minute or less to set up a Google Alert:
You’ll see a preview of your results to the right of the form:
I set up a Google Alert on my name years ago. It worked well for several years – didn’t always catch everything, but it caught most mentions. In the past year or so it stopped working. I do occasionally get a Google Alert, but it’s rare and it misses the vast majority of appearances of my name that show up in Google’s index. For example I never get an alert when I publish a blog post. You might think that Google had figured out I was the author of those posts and was weeding them out proactively. But I do sometimes get alerts for syndicated versions of the same posts, which still list me as the author, so that doesn’t really explain it.
It also doesn’t explain all missing stuff I didn’t author. Again, it’s not that my name isn’t getting cited anywhere; a simple Google search verifies that it is. If you want to check if you own Google Alert is catching everything, do a search on your chosen query and change the time frame to “Past week” or “Past month.” Have you gotten Alerts for all those new results?
I have two theories:
Has anyone else experienced similar problems with their Google Alerts? Did you create a Google Alert in the past that doesn’t work as well as it used to? Share your story in the comments.
And feel free to petition to Google to fix Google Alerts!
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