There is a lot of speculation as to the future of Google Alerts. After the untimely death of Google Reader, marketers and web users started wondering what would be next? Many people use Google Alerts to keep track of any mentions of their brand and business across the web. Often sentiment confuses the issue and sends irrelevant information to your inbox, but it can also be a hugely beneficial tool that helps you gain insight into how your brand is perceived.
From a link acquisition point of view, you can pick up whenever another website mentions your business name or brand and request that they hyperlink that mention back to your site. From a client acquisition point of view, if someone is talking about your brand online, pondering whether or not to go with your services, you can jump into the conversation and help them move forward with their decision.
There is no debate about the value of Google Alerts, but there is debate about the longevity. That's why we decided to highlight a few alternatives that you can look at using, in case there is an untimely demise of this handy listening tool.
Social Mention is already widely used as a quick check up to see what people are saying about your brand. The results offered in a standard search are often not very refined as the search functionality tends to look at words both individually and as a whole. If you're searching for a brand term that consists of three words, you'll often find that you get hundreds of results on each word as an individual, while not many on your name as a whole unit. You can alter these settings in the advanced search for exact matches.
One particularly appealing feature is that Social Mention does what it can to interpret sentiment, which isn't easy to do. A lot of brand management tools pay people to do this part for you, so it might not always be accurate where Social Mention is concerned. It works pretty well considering it's 100% free and you can sign up for email alerts or add it to your RSS feed. You can also download the data as an Excel or CSV file for easier analysis.
With a number of different pricing options, including a free version, Mention.net is a convenient and user-friendly tool that can be used via the web app or can be downloaded to your system. This application offers you the most variety in terms of ways in which to refine your search. Just doing a basic alert will offer you options to include or exclude various words, as well as search for phrases as a whole. You can define the languages you want to search and also which platforms you want results from.
A particularly awesome little feature is the "Anti-Noise Technology" feature, which is an intelligent little tool that will automatically delete results that are similar to those who manually delete. If you're scared it might make a mistake, it's best to leave this unselected, but it can be very useful if you're sifting through hoards of results everyday. You can also connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to your alerts and analyze statistics, sentiment and trends.
Set up in very much the same, simple way as Google Alerts, Talkwater is an obvious alternative. Simply input the details of the alerts you want to receive, and they'll come straight to your inbox. You have to validate your account first, but once that's done you can determine how often you want the alerts to arrive - same as Google Alerts (as the happen, once a day or once a week) - and set up as many alerts as you want or need. There are a few additional guidelines given as to how to structure your search queries, such as including the word "AND" to substantiate that you want results with a combination of words included, not just one or the other.
The Ahrefs Mentions tool comes as a part of a comprehensive toolkit for SEO and marketing professionals, but it can also be used on its own. A number of different pricing plans are offered that all include the mentions tracker, including a free version. The free variety won't give you as many results as you would probably hope for, but they're quite refined results, which makes all the difference.
Also really simple and easy to use, there are cool little icons to the right of your search query box that will help you define exactly how you want to search. So if you have multiple terms that must be searched for together, or you only want search results where the term is in the title of the page, then you can pre-select these options.
There are many other listening tools available, but these were just a few of the more well-known options. Have you got any others you like to use when monitoring the greater social web? Let us know what they are so we can try them out too.