Is A Farewell to Google Alerts in our Future?

As of today, beloved Google Reader is history. While we hardly noticed the passing of past Google products like Picnik, Google Wave, and Jaiku (you can see the full Google Product graveyard here), we were sad to see Google Reader go.

Although revenue was reportedly not a factor in the decision, Reader's lack of direct usefulness to Google+ may have been the primary factor in its demise. Reader users consumed and shared a great deal of content through the tool using intuitive social sharing buttons. However, when non-Google social sharing options within Reader were converted to Google+, the rate of sharing decreased along with Reader's longevity. In fact, according to Brian Shih, a former Google Reader product manager, members of the highly skilled Google Reader team had been historically pulled away to work on social products including OpenSocial, Buzz and Google+.

Reader's death leaves many of us migrating our feeds to services like Feedly, The Old Reader and Digg Reader. (So far, Feedly seems a likely contender with its familiar and friendly interface, although we're not completely satisfied with the feed quality.)

Are Google Alerts Next?

Google Alerts may be next. We use Google Alerts to monitor when our clients are mentioned in news articles, on websites and in conversations on social networks. We recommend this tool to our clients as one of the simplest and most basic ways to monitor use and mentions of their marks and names online.

Throughout the spring, many search marketing blogs reported that Google Alerts had been acting up. For example, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land complained that he was no longer receiving alerts about all of the various keywords for which he had subscribed. We noticed the change, too. RepEquity account managers went from receiving many Google Alert emails every day to only a few a week. In addition, with the elimination of Google Reader, the delivery options for Google Alerts changed. As of a few days ago, Google no longer allows users to create new Google Alerts with delivery to feed readers. Instead, only email delivery options are available.

To date there has been no official announcement by Google to kill Google Alerts, but given the recent changes with Google Alerts and the company's history of eliminating products and services, it may be only a matter of time until Google Alerts goes dark.

So Here Are Some Alternatives

Short of signing up for an expensive web monitoring service like Sysomos or Radian6, what are Google Alert users to do? Below, we've rounded up a few alternative tools that are poised for success if and when Google Alerts disappears.

Talkwalker - This service advertises itself as the 'best free and easy alternative to Google Alerts.' Alerts are easy to set up and can be sent to your email inbox or RSS feed reader.

Mention - Mention offers both free and paid services to monitor your keywords in real time. It allows you to access your mentions from anywhere using the web, desktop apps or iPhone and Android apps. The paid versions, which range from $6.99 to $64.99 per month, provide a larger number of alerts, language monitoring, reporting tools and even sentiment analysis.

Social Mention - Unlike many Google Alert alternatives, Social Mention doesn't deliver results to your inbox or RSS reader. This tool aggregates content from across the social media universe and provides some analysis including sentiment, top users and top hashtags.