Business

Google Alerts ‘broken,’ ‘useless,’ and slowed to a ‘trickle’

water wheelThe Internet is a massive, tangled, churning web of content, and for a long time , Google Alerts was a key navigational tool that kept users on top of things that were relevant specifically to them. However over recent months, a series of reports have surfaced that indicate Google Alerts is no longer working as it should.

People on online forums, publications, and blogs say their Google Alerts have dwindled to the point of uselessness. Trade publication The Financial Brand reported that its Google Alerts have slowed to a “trickle,” with the volume decreasing by at least 80% and dropping from 20-35 emails per day with 4- 12 results down to 4-8 emails per day with 1-3 results each. Furthermore, “the results are crummier than ever.”

As a result of these findings, The Financial Brand wrote on open letter to Google stating its complaints and criticizing the search engine giant for neglecting its users:

“Searching the Internet is what Google is was known for, it is was what Google (once) did better than everyone else. But Google has become distracted with “Shiny New Syndrome,” wasting tremendous amounts of time and energy (yours and ours) on ideas that fall way outside the search model.”

Using Google Alerts, people set up a personal monitoring system around specific search terms. For example, an entrepreneur could receive notifications every time his company is mentioned, or you could use it to follow a topic that interests you, whether it be a news story, medical condition, or sports team. Google’s system searches for results that match the query and dispatches them in emails.

The Financial Brand used Alerts to surface content relating to its audience — marketers in the financial services industry. The publication set up alerts for terms like “bank marketing” and “credit union Facebook promotion” and claims to have published ‘hundreds upon hundreds of articles’ as a direct result of those leads, as well as advising its audience to use Google Alerts themselves. This is the case, no more.

“The Financial Brand has frequently encouraged bank and credit union marketing executives around the world to use Google Alerts. This advice is now fully retracted. Google Alerts was once a very important and efficient tool to monitor mentions of your brand on the web. It is now so unreliable that it has been rendered effectively useless.”

Besides this criticism from The Financial Brand, the Google Search forum has a string of posts from individuals and business owners complaining that their Alerts have come to a halt.

“I’ve been using Alerts for several years to find inventory for my business,” JesseNewton posted in the forum. “They worked fine, and I received 20 or 30 a day. Now, I rarely receive more than two or three per day. I can go into Alerts and manually run the searches, and tons of results pop up for which I never received email alerts. I haven’t changed anything, and they’re all set to “All results” with “immediate” delivery.”

There are similar reports on Search Engine Land, a news and information site that covers the search engine industry, and niche trade publications like Eco Press and BizSugar. Google has not yet responded to a request for comment.


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