How to Monitor Keywords Most Effectively with Google Alerts

How to Monitor Keywords Most Effectively with Google Alerts

How to Monitor Keywords Most Effectively with Google Alerts:

While searching online, sometimes we are unable to find the satisfactory content or maybe we find no content at all. Hence its natural that we will like to be informed automatically, the moment the desired content is posted online. This is because checking Google again and again to find whether the new content has been posted, can be a very exhausting and irritating experience. 

Google Alerts ( is a Google product for such automated searches. It checks whether the desired information has been posted online and informs the user accordingly. 

Utility of Google Alert Feature:
There can be different purposes for using Google alerts, including:

Analyzing comments on your and competitor’s brand:
To remain ahead of the competitors in business world, brands often monitor the feedback of public on their brands. It enables counter any negative feedback or helps resolve the grievances of public to maintain a healthy market reputation. Similarly, most brands monitor their competitor brands too, to evaluate their relative performance.  

Tracking specific terms of interest:
For different individuals, there are different terms of interest. For a law enforcement officer terms like riot, serial killer, extremist, radical etc are often of greater interest. For a student maybe how to learn hacking, best movie of the months etc are more important. 

Looking for changes and trends:
For a politician changes in demography and political opinion are of paramount concern. Similarly, business entities, demographers, information officers etc are continuously looking for recent trends and changes. 

What Google Alerts Provide:

  • Keyword Monitoring: By using Google alerts, you can track any keyword on blogs, information sites, news sites, books etc. Basically, Google automatically scans the sites indexed, to find any new alert for the keyword being monitored. The sites being scanned also include Google owned platforms like YouTube. 
  • Alerts are Delivered Automatically to Inbox: Google Alerts automatically sent alerts regarding every keyword being monitored by you to your email. Optionally, you can also see them anytime by navigating to - 
  • Choose the Frequency: Google Alerts allows you to choose the frequency of alerts. You can receive them once per day or week. Alternatively, you can receive them as soon as your keywords are mentioned online.    

Drawbacks of Google Alerts:

  • No Social Media Results: Since inner pages of social media sites are not indexed completely the results don’t include social media results. For social media sites, you will need site specific monitoring tools. Sites based on Facebook Graph Search were quite popular for Facebook based monitoring. 
  • No analytics or reports: Google alerts do not provide any analytic or report. Users can only see where the specific term of interest has been mentioned. Analysis like frequency of mentions, sentiment analysis, keyword density etc are completely missing 

How to set up Google Alerts?
It’s child play to set up Google alerts. The complete process takes less than few minutes of time. You can set it up by following these steps:

  • Step 1: Navigate to the link - The Google account you are currently logged in is the one that will receive the alerts later on. 
  • Step 2: Select your Keywords: Ideally your keywords should be unique and not generic. Selecting generic keywords, will likely increase noise, which shall make any fruitful analysis difficult. 
  • Step 3: Select the frequency: To receive notifications on real time basis, you should select the option “as it happens”. 
  • Choose your Sources: As discussed above, Google Alerts does not cover social media sites. Therefore, you only can choose amongst blogs, news, videos and books. 
  • Select the language: You can also select a specific language of choice, which can help filter out noise. For example, a private investigator only interested in Hindi related keywords, can choose language as “Hindi”. 
  • Select the Region: Similar to language, you can also select a specific region of interest. For example, an individual might be interested only local news rather than international ones. Hence this filter. 
  • Choose amongst “only the best” and “everything”: Google provides you an option - whether you want every mention of your keyword or let Google choose the most important ones for you?
  • Select the Email Address for Alerts: The default email address will be one you are logged into, but can also send the alerts to RSS feed! 

Tap on “Create Alert” to complete the process. 

How to Create Effective Alerts?
Here are some tips to create effective Google alerts. 

Avoid Generic or Common Keywords: 
This is the most common mistake committed while creating Google Alerts. People often feel that use of generic keywords like crime, baby cloth, FOREX etc will provide multiple Google alerts. And more the mentions, more the possibility of analysis. However, soon individual gets overwhelmed with Google alerts. 

Therefore, the viewpoint that more the alerts the better it is holds little water. After using common keywords for monitoring, you will start receiving so many alerts that you will have to delete them without even looking at them. It will create more harm than good. 

Therefore, stick to precise and specific keywords that are personally relevant to you. Otherwise, your inbox will soon be flooded with generic alerts. 

Create Multiple Alerts:
By creating several alerts, you can also receive a good number of alerts, while being incredibly precise in keywords choice! Therefore, instead of creating generic alerts create precise and specific alerts, but many of them to receive multiple mentions.  

Use Google Advance Operators: 
You can use Google advance Operators to narrow down your search. It will help remove noise and result in precise, useful alerts. 

Let’s learn how to use them to enhance our keyword searches.

Google advance search operators are special characters and commands that enhance the capabilities of the regular searches. Almost all these operators have two parts, separated by a colon (:) sign. To the left of the colon is the type of the operator and to the right of the colon is the rule for the operator. These operators are broadly divided into two categories: 

  • Basic search operators and 
  • Advance search operators

Quotation Marks:
This is the most commonly used search operator and can enhance the quality of search output significantly. This is especially because it helps eliminate noise by reducing the non relevant results. 

For example, if you search for the term “Cyber Cops” without quotes, the results will be pages that have the word “Cyber” and “Cops”. However, these pages need not have the words “Cyber” and “Cops” right next to each other. The word “Cops” could be next to another word and similarly for word “Cyber”.  E.g., Popular Cops and Cyber Health 

The result thus provides false positives, and thus fills the outcome with noise. They may include a reference to “Cyber Victim” and “Indian Cops” but not “Cyber Cops”. Since technically the words “Cyber” and “Cops” appear on the page, we get these results too. To prevent this, we should place the search term within the double quotes. This reduces the search results drastically, generally by a factor of x10 to x1000. The result pages then contain the words “Cyber” and “Cops” right next to each other. 

If the search result with quotes yields nothing or few results, consider using keywords without quotes. On the other hand, if the searches with quotes yield unmanageable number of results, consider adding words to your search. For example, when we add the term “India” after “Cyber Cops” the search results reduce drastically

These results contain pages that have the words “Cyber” and “Cops” right next to each other and also include the word “police” on that page somewhere. While all the results may not be useful, the reduced results can be much easily digested. Adding the peculiar aspects related to the search term like place, description, feature may help eliminate unrelated results.

Site operator: 
Site operator provides two benefits to the search results. Firstly, it provides results of the pages located only on a specific domain. Secondly, it provides all of the results containing the search term on that domain. 

The technique can be applied to any domain including social networks, blogs and any other website that has been indexed by the search engine. Thus, once the page has been indexed by crawlers, we can view the content using the “site” operator. 

Thus, to get results from a specific site, consider using the site operator. Here are some combinations with the site operator, to show how it can be useful. 

  • If one knows a site’s basic architecture, this combination can drill down the site. E.g,
  • Helps drill down into specific sub-domains. E.g,
  • “search term”: This simple combination can be used to track duplicate and near-duplicate copy of a site. E.g, "free kindle books"

File Type Operator:
The “file-type operator” helps filter the search result by a particular file-type. This operator can be used to find specific file type.   

Previously, Google indexed media files by types such as AVI, MP4 and others. Due to abuse of the pirated content, this no longer works. However, we can use the following extensions to gather similar valuable information:

7Z: Compressed file   
BMP: Bitmap image
DOC: Microsoft Word   
DOCX: Microsoft Word 
DWF: Autodesk    
GIF: Animated Image
HTM: Web page   
HTML: Web page
JPG: Image   
JPEG: Image
KML: Google Earth   
KMZ: Google Earth
ODP: Open Office Presentation   
ODS: Open Office Spreadsheet
ODT: Open Office Text   
PDF: Adobe Acrobat
PNG: Image   
PPT: Microsoft Power Point
PPTX: Microsoft Power Point    
RAR: Compressed File
RTF: Rich Text Format   
TXT: Text File
XLS: Microsoft Excel   
XLSX: Microsoft Excel
ZIP: Compressed File     

Hyphen Operator:
The hyphen (-) operator asks Google to exclude the text immediately following the hyphen from the search results. Thus, this command helps exclude words that you don’t want to appear in the search results. There should never be space between the hyphen and the text to be excluded. This operator is mostly used to reduce the over-whelming results. 

Consider an example, where you want results about cyber frauds but not OLX frauds. Then, in Google alerts you can use the keyword:

Cyber frauds -olx

Inurl Operator:
The operators discussed so far, apply to the contents within the web page. However, this operator focuses on the data within the URL or address of the website. 

The “inurl:” syntax restricts the search results to the URLs containing the keywords searched. For example, inurl:password returns only links to those pages that have the word “password” in their URLs. There must be no space between the inurl: and the following word.

If one has to search for multiple words in an URL, then he/ she should use the “allinurl:” syntax. This is because, putting inurl: in front of every word in the query is equivalent to putting allinurl: at the front of query. E.g, “inurl:confidential inurl:information” is the same as “allinurl:confidential information”. Similarly, the query “inurl:healthy eating” will return documents that mention the word “healthy” in their URL and mention the word “eating” somewhere in the document.

Though it’s is relatively lesser used operator in Google alerts but is nevertheless useful. Consider, an example where police is investigating drug related crimes and looking for websites related to drugs flourishing on the internet. Therefore, the keyword can be:
inurl:drug India 

Intitle Operator:
Practically, every web page on the internet has an official title. This is often included within the source code of the page and may not appear anywhere else within the content. The “Intitle Operator” restricts the search to pages containing that word within the title tag. For example, intitle:login password returns links to those pages that have the word "login" in their title and the word "password" somewhere on the page.  

Similarly, if there is a query for more than one word in the page title then “allintitle:” should be used instead of “intitle”. For example using “intitle:login intitle:password”, is same as querying “allintitle: login password”. The following search finds any site with words login and password within the title, regardless of the order.

OR Operator:
As the name suggests, this OR operator (|) searches for pages that have one word or the other. Thus, the search for the term Cyber OR Cops returns pages that have just the term “Cyber” OR just the term “Cops” OR both the terms “Cyber” and “Cops” in that page. The pipe operator (|) can also be used in place of “OR”. 

Law enforcement agencies and private investigators use this operator to search for a suspect’s number on criminal sites like Back-page. This is usually achieved by searching many if not all of the different possible combinations. 

An example keyword for Google Alerts:
“1234567890” OR “123-456-7890” OR “123.456.7890” OR “123 456 7890”

Alternatives to Google Alerts:

Talk Walker Alert:
While Gmail alert is considered the Gold standard for alerts on automated searches, Talk Walker alert is considered the best alternative. Talk Walker Alert has an interface very similar to Google Alert. However, they do not require a Google account.  

How to make Talk Walker Alerts: 

Now select the following parameters for the most effective searches:

  • Your mail: (Non Gmail id)
  • Language: (As suitable)
  • How many: All results
  • Result type :News, Blogs, Discussions and Twitter

Google Alert and Talk Walker Alerts saves our time and makes the searches effective as it’s not humanly possible to search the websites 24*7 for the desired information. The feature is free of cost and help users significantly in professional and personal work.