As Peter Senge once observed, “The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition.” If this is true, then you can’t find a more valuable free tool than Google Alerts.

With Google Alerts, you can specify a word or phrase for Google to monitor; whenever they see it, they send you an email with a link to the source. Unlike with a Google search, once established an alert brings you breaking news and continues to run forever, or so we thought.

Think about the value of Google alerting you to what your competitors just announced. What if your salespeople could get alerts about their customers and prospects? What if you could get alerts about your partners, your key suppliers, your employees? What if you could monitor what people were saying about you in social media forums and on review sites like What if you could see each new RFP (request for proposal) in your industry as it hit the wire? Maybe your business would be able to “adapt more quickly.”

Unfortunately, the last Google Alert I received was in early 2015. My first question was, “Is it just me?” so I Googled the question, “Is Google Alerts dying?” and found articles by Mashable, ComputerWorld, and BuzzFeed (inappropriately named when reporting news like this).

Alas, how will we discover what people are saying about us in social media conversations now? How are we to get timely reports about competitors, customers and partners? How will we adapt most quickly?

More Googling revealed a possible replacement:

While it apparently works exactly like Google Alerts, it costs roughly $8.00 per month, per alert. Whoa! While I’m sure it’s worth 100-times that amount, I can’t bring myself to pay for something that’s been free for the last decade.

And then it hit me. The answer is (drum roll please): Google! It’s just going to take a tiny bit more work.

Go to In the first field, you can place your desired phrase. But it’s the ninth field that’s the magic one: “Last Update.” You can set that to “past 24 hours” and see what’s just happened. If you prefer, try “past week” or “past month” instead. If the search gives you valuable results, bookmark it! Then you can rerun it at regular intervals (the “tiny bit more work” mentioned above).

You get the idea. Or if you don’t, all of the instructions are on the right side of the page at

All is right with the world again because you’re learning faster than the competition.