Google Alerts is an easy and effective way to keep up with new content written about a variety of topics. As Google discovers new content, they include it in the results for each alert you’ve created, and you’re notified about the latest content via email or RSS.
You can refine alert results based on source (blogs, news, web, finance, video, books, and discussions) and also choose only to provide what the tool calls Only the best results. Unfortunately, the more popular the topic, the less effective the refinements become. A good example is creating an alert for Tesla. Even if you choose only to show the best results, a good percentage of the content it returns are from low-quality sites.
I define a low-quality site as having one or more of the following features:
- Mainly consists of poorly written or automated content
- Provides intentionally misleading information
- Has annoying and interrupting UX (Immediately requests notifications, asks for email, covers content with videos and ads, etc…)
- Branding and layout doesn’t look professional or trustworthy
Google Alerts does provide the ability to filter out these sites using the site search operator. For example, if there’s a site you want to exclude from the results, you can enter
-site:domain.com (domain.com should be replaced with the domain you want to exclude) in the query field. You can add as many site exclusions as you wish.
If you use Feedly for your RSS reader, as I do, it provides a feature that is more robust and easier to manage. The feature is called Mute filters, and you can apply them to individual feed groups or your entire account. Then it will exclude content from both Google Alerts, and the RSS feeds you follow.
Like Google Alerts, Feedly’s Mute filters support search operators. If you want to exclude a site, you create a new mute filter, choose which feed group it should apply to, and enter
Feedly also supports the ability to exclude authors using
author: and keywords used in titles using
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