Google Alerts

Basic information

How to use this tool for use/reuse assessment

Google Alerts can be used to monitor the occurrence of keywords and alphanumeric strings, such as digital collection or digital object names, on websites across the internet. These search phrases can be defined in the Google Alerts interface, using boolean search strategies similar to those available in the Google search engine. This allows practitioners to see when others are mentioning or embedding their digital collections and digital objects.

Suggested search strategies to track Google Alerts for digital library content include:

  • digital library’s name
  • digital library’s base URL (,
  • a repository’s Handle or DOI shoulder ( and; and, or
  • special URLs created for collections (

Ethical guidelines

Practitioners should follow the practices laid out in the “Ethical considerations and guidelines for the assessment of use and reuse of digital content.” The Guidelines are meant both to inform practitioners in their decision-making, and to model for users what they can expect from those who steward digital collections.


  • Interface is easy to use.

  • Customizable, with options to receive alerts in real time or as a digest. 

  • Integrates well with existing Google products, like Gmail. 

  • Practitioners can customize what online sources the alert searches, including News, Blogs, Web, and more. 

  • Results can also be filtered by language, region, and comprehensiveness (either receive all alerts, or “only the best results”).


  • Requires a Google account. 

  • May not surface social media mentions depending on the platform and user’s privacy settings. 

  • Google Alerts lacks a comprehensive reporting interface to view metrics for keyword alerts, like the number of times a specific collection has been mentioned. Quantitative analysis would therefore require manual collation, and historical alert data may potentially be lost over time.

  • Limited to 1000 alerts per Gmail address. 

  • Not all sources searchable through a Google advanced search may be searched by Google Alerts, and Google is not transparent about how it selects sources for Google Alerts.

  • Google Alerts has reportedly suffered from service outages over the years; it is unclear to what extent Google provides ongoing service and support for the product.

Real world examples

  • Google Alerts for cultural heritage institutions
    Case study on creating Google Alerts for repository names, websites, and finding aid websites for 66 institutions randomly selected from the Archive Grid database. Provides best-practices on creating Google Alerts for cultural heritage institutions and highlights strengths and weaknesses of the service for different types of institutions.

    Kelly, E. J. (2018). Content Analysis of Google Alerts for Cultural Heritage Institutions. Journal of Web Librarianship12(1), 28–45. 

Cite this page

D-CRAFT. (2023). Google Alert. Digital Content Reuse Assessment Framework Toolkit (D-CRAFT) ; Council on Library & Information Resources.

Used for this method

Alternative tools

Skip to content