There are many tools that Google provides that are excellent. Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, QR Code Generator, and many others. Since I switched to an Android phone last year, it has become even better with things like Google Now.
There is one tool from Google that I hate and I hope it goes the way that Google Reader did: gone. That tool is Google Alerts. Many people use Google Alerts to watch what’s being said about themselves (if you’re that vain), a favorite actor, their companies and competitors, etc. The reason I hate Google Alerts is it is massively inaccurate and unreliable, especially relative to other Google tools.
Take this example that happened yesterday. Our friends at TechTarget were kind enough to include Tegile in a story about flash storage. The story was published at about 8AM Pacific Time. I know this because I use a tool called Meltwater that does an excellent job of scouring the web for news, blogs etc. Below is a screen shot of the notification I got about the story.
I clicked the link to read the story. Here it is below:
I have noticed that Google Alerts is not as fast as Meltwater, even if you select the “As it Happens” option when you set up an alert. To see whether Google noticed the article, I searched for it in Google News. Yes! There is was, ranked pretty high in the News results.
I’ve waited 24 hours, and have not seen anything from Google Alerts – even though Google News sees the article! C’mon, man!
I’ve researched this problem quite a bit, and it appears my issue is not unique. There was an article posted on July 30th by Forbes titled “Google Alerts Are Broken” that details the exact issue I am seeing. There is another great post on SearchEngine Land titled “Dear Google Alerts: Why Aren’t You Working?” that says the same.
I don’t know if there are algorithms being manipulated to boost Google+ users that have an impact on Alerts results, or this antiquated tool is just being ignored by Google in lieu of new toys such as Google Glass or their new Google Shopping Express. I’m not a Google hater – as a matter of fact, I am very eager to try Shopping Express, so I can avoid going to Costco ever again. I just want Google Alerts to work properly or go away.
In our business, if you drop bits, you die. Not even posting alerts for content Google obviously sees is just like it. Time for Google Alerts to go away.