Testing Google and Yahoo Alerts

I’ve been using Google Alerts for the past year or so to stay on top of a handful of topics, and I decided this weekend that it might be worth expanding their use a little more.

So, I added about ten terms that I’m interested in tracking to my alerts list for Google.

And then, I decided that it might be fun to try out Yahoo Alerts also, and compare what the two services provide.

My experience with Google Alerts has been interesting so far. With some news articles, the alerts I’ m sent have been fairly timely. But every so often, I see an alert pointing to a page that’s more than a year old. When I see that, I wonder if Google has just descovered the page, and noticed in some vast database that they hadn’t sent me a copy of it yet.

I haven’t searched to see if someone has tried this already, but it might be fun to keep track of what links I’m provided with, and compare the two alert systems over a period of a few weeks or months. How old are the pages that I receive an alert for? How many links am I provided per term over the length of time, and how many do I receive each day from both search engines?

Any ideas on other things I should look at in comparing the two services are welcomed.

4 thoughts on “Testing Google and Yahoo Alerts”

  1. I get alerts from Google for links from over a year or two ago. Some of these alerts are for items that are so old that I don’t even remember visiting the site 🙂

    Although I’m not 100% sure, I think I’ve also received duplicate alerts for the same link. I wonder if the page with my link has changed and Google is marking this as a “new” page when it comes to their alerting system.

    Still, I’ve found the alerts are pretty good at finding new links. They’re also good for tracking how a new site with a new domain is doing.

  2. Hi Marios,

    I received a Google alert about a month ago with a date on it from November, 2004. It made me wonder if Google had just found the site that it was on and was trying to do some catching up.

    I’d guess you may be right about the duplicates. That they are from pages that have been updated recently – instead of the date on the page, they’re looking at the file creation date.

    I’ll probably be using more alerts rather than less after this bout of testing.

  3. I was looking for content comparing Google Alerts to Yahoo’s version. I’ve had the same trouble with Google sending me old stuff. I just set up some stuff for Yahoo today. My experience with Yahoo is that they index web pages faster than Google. But that’s not what a lot of the experts say so who knows?

  4. Hi Lee,

    I’m not so sure that alerts are tied so closely with when a search engine discovers a page to index it. I used to use Google alerts much more frequently, and remember receiving a fair number for pages that were older, and appeared to have been indexed previously.

    I do however, often see new pages show up more quickly in Google’s search results than in Yahoo’s. I’d love to see someone do a full scale study, comparing the two.

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