Keeping your finger on the pulse of your market, knowing what’s being said about your business and brand, is serious business on today’s web. Google Alerts have been the go-to service for monitoring and alert, to date. This free Google service allows users to create an alert for whenever Google finds an instance of your brand name, updates in your market, or whatever you set the alert. Unfortunately, with the retirement of Google Reader, the option for alerts to go to an RSS feed has gone away leaving only e-mail alert notifications. Since the days of getting excited about having mail in your e-mail inbox are long gone, I like to examine how alerts can be more effectively set up to monitor important dimensions of your business and your marketplace on the lab without clogging your inbox.

?”Google?

While Google Alerts themselves indicate otherwise, Google searches can still be monitored via RSS for one particular area — Google news items. This is great because many alerts originate from news items. That being said, news items won’t cover everything so we will look at alternatives in just a moment. But first, let’s examine how to set up Google news alerts in an RSS reader.

Getting Google News Alerts via RSS

First conduct a Google search for a keyword phrase that you’d like to monitor as an ongoing alert. Next, navigate to the news section in Google which will show news items related to your keyword search. Scroll to the bottom of the news page, and you’ll see an option to get the news delivered via a feed. Right-click to copy URL and simply take that long URL and enter it in your RSS feed reader. You have now successfully replicated what Google alerts used to do in Google reader (at least for news items.)

Mention.net

Wild that process is relatively simple and painless, it still is limited to only Google news. Mention.net is a great alternative to Google Alerts as it provides a very similar service, yet allows you to plug results into an RSS feed reader, or the data can be accessible through their attractive and intuitive dashboard.

Easily import your Google Alerts

One of the definite upsides to mention.net is that it allows for easy importing of Google Alerts. The process is simple enough as it walks you through exporting your Google Alerts and then importing that same file into the Mention dashboard. Mention’s instructions makes this process even easier than it sounds.

Freemium Service

The downside to mention is that while it starts out as a free service, the number of keywords monitored are limited, at least under the free plan. There are some attractive low-cost paid plans, but again it will cost a few bucks every month.

If your business depends on solid monitoring, from this may be an excellent service for you. If not, to Google News set up may work well, or you may have to live with email from Google alerts for the time being. Google does make mention that the RSS feed delivery option is not currently available, implying that they may bring back the functionality in some way, shape or form. While that sounds promising, I would not hold my breath for Google to do anything with this in the near future, as Google Alerts have seemingly become a relatively low priority item for team Google.

Other Free Services

Other sites worth considering for purposes of alerts and monitoring are topsy.com and also Yahoo Alerts. Topsy is a search engines for the social web, which also allows you to create email alerts. Unfortunately they just very recently also retired their RSS feed reader option — perhaps following Google’s lead. And Yahoo alerts, while free, are certainly nowhere near as robust or comprehensive as Google Alerts but are still worth this mentioning, and perhaps a quick look to see if they can be useful for your business.

And if you still think Google Alerts are still your best option, a service that is apparently coming soon, alertstorss.com, will restore the ability to add Google Alerts to your favorite feed reader.