Back in April 2012 I wrote about how Google Alerts had pretty much stopped working for me. Recently, they clearly tweaked something, because Google Alerts are working better, as Danny Sullivan noted at Search Engine Land recently. However, they’re definitely not back up to the level they were at when I first signed up for a Google Alert years ago. Why not? Apparently, Google only sends you new alerts under these circumstances:
Google Alerts only sends you email if new articles, webpages or blog posts make it into the top ten Google News results, the top twenty Google Web Search results or top ten Google Blog Search results for your query. If the top results remain the same for a while, you won’t receive email on your topic.
Perhaps this reduces the processing power they have to devote to Google Alerts. But it means that you’re only going to get alerts for a fraction of the actual mentions of the keyword or phrase that you’re monitoring, because most mentions aren’t going to break into the top 10.
So what’s the alternative? I recently signed up for a free trial of Mention, another brand monitoring service, and I’m finding it to be a much more effective tool than Google Alerts. Let’s take a look at how Mention works.
Go to the home page and click the “Signup for free” button. You can sign up using your existing Facebook, Twitter, Google, or OpenID account, or just enter your name, email address, and a password to create a new account.
If you sign up using an existing account, you’ll be asked to enter an email address. Then you can choose how to use Mention:
You can download Mention for Windows, get the app for iPhone or Android, install a Chrome extension, or just use the web app. In this review, I’ll be focusing on the web app.
Once you click through to the web app, you’ll a screen where you can create your alert (click the image to enlarge).
Then just fill out the form:
In the next step, you can manage and filter your sources. I chose to get alerts from all sources (the web, Facebook, Twitter, news, blogs, videos, forums and images) but you can exclude some of those sources if you want, or block a specific site.
On this screen you can also choose whether you want to use “Priority inbox” (a feature that flags mentions they identify as more important or influential) and “Anti-Noise Technology” (which removes mentions similar to those you have deleted).
Then click “Create my alert.” At this point, you can choose to share your alert other users. Anyone can then see the alerts, but you’ll be the owner with the ability to edit and manage settings, add or delete users as well as delete the alert.
Google Alerts are bare-bones emails with links to the pages that mention the word or phrase you’re monitoring. They look like this:
Mention also sends you an email when you have new results:
As you can see, the Mention email is a little more designed (with a look and feel somewhat similar to what you’d get from Pinterest, or the excellent Twitter emails) and it also has more options: Click the blue button to go to the page, or click one of the links below the entry to react to the mention, mark as a favorite or delete the mention. Clicking any of these links opens up the Mention web app, which looks a lot like an email application (again, click the image to enlarge):
In the far left column, you have a list of views. The default view is Mentions, which you can see in the next column over, with the most recent mention at the top.
You can filter the mentions column by source and toggle the view between all, unread, and priority. (The “priority” mentions have red flags.)
On the right, in the main view, you get a preview of the page with your mention. This is really cool because you can see the context of the mention without having to actually visit the page – it’s obviously much more robust than the little search-style snippet you get in the Google Alert email. From this view you can choose to click through to the original URL or the source, and you can also favorite the mention, block the source or trash it using the little icons at the top.
There’s also a Statistics section where you can get some basic reporting on your mentions, like your average mentions per day and what sources those mentions are coming from.
Similar to Google Analytics, you can adjust the date range and export your reports.
I think Mention works about a million times better than Google Alerts. Here’s why:
I’m not sure about the “Priority Inbox” algorithm – Mention seems to be flagging some pages that aren’t really substantial mentions; for example some of them are just static blogroll links. However, this feature may be more valuable if you’re a huge brand getting hundreds or thousands of mentions a day, like Coca-Cola or Demi Lovato or whatever.
In addition, I really can’t speak to the quality or usability of the mobile apps, because I don’t own a smartphone. (I know, I know, I work in technology, blah blah, but I don’t cover gadgets and WordStream ain’t payin’ my mobile bill.) For what it’s worth, Larry found the mobile app “unusable,” so “try before you buy.”
OK, so Google Alerts is free, but that’s part of the problem with it – it doesn’t make money so Google isn’t putting any resources into maintaining quality.
Mention also has a free tier, which gets you three alerts, 500 mentions per month, and 1 month of history.
The next tier is the Pro Plan. This is the plan I reviewed, as Mention comped me a month when they saw me say I was trying it out on Twitter. The Pro Plan is $19.99 per month and gets you unlimited alerts, 50,000 mentions per month, unlimited history, and access to stats and data export tools.
The highest tier is Team Plan, which is $99.95 per month and gets you everything the Pro Plan does plus ability for multiple users on the same account. This doesn’t seem like a great deal; to get five users on the team plan, you’re paying five times the amount of the Pro Plan. You’d think there would be a bit of a discount. But this might be a worthwhile option for bigger businesses with bigger budgets.
Have you been looking for an alternative to Google Alerts? Have you tried Mention? What do you use for brand monitoring? Let me know in the comments!
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