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If you’re anything like me, you probably use Google on a daily basis. But did you know that in addition to helping you stay up-to-date on the topics you’re most interested in, the search engine’s free “Alerts” feature can be a powerful tool for saving money?
Google Alerts is a simple, free tool that can be used in a number of ways to help you save money on most of the things you buy online.
Google Alerts allows you to choose a keyword (your own name, for example), and get a notification from Google whenever there’s new content on the web that contains that keyword.
What’s important to understand when it comes to saving money is that Google Alerts works not only with new content, but also with updated content. That means you can use the service to get notifications about price drops and deals from your favorite brands.
First, here are the simple steps to create a Google Alert.
That’s all there is to it! Note that below the settings list is a preview of the type of results your alert will produce. If you’re not happy with what you see there, you can change the setting to make them more or less inclusive.
Google Alerts has two especially powerful ways to help you save money. Here are specific instructions for leveraging them.
This is the most powerful way to use Google Alerts to save money, and perhaps the best-kept secret about using the tool.
Google can do more than just read text. You can also format your search to give it specific commands. And one of those commands allows you to request notifications about products within a price range of your choosing.
Here’s the command:
“Product Name Product Features $X00..$Y00”
Note: The command must be in quotes and have two dots between the prices.
How can this save you money? Google Alerts allows you to set a price target for an item you want to buy.
Let’s say the Athleta product you’ve had your eye on costs $75, but you only want to pay $50. In that case, you can set your command with the dollar amounts of $25..$50. When Google detects a new or updated web page that features an Athleta product within that price range — as the result of a sale, for example — you’ll get an alert in your inbox.
Here, your command string would be:
Of course, this would mean you’d get notifications about every Athleta product within that price range. Fortunately, you can also add product features to your command.
For example, let’s say you’re in the market for a specific Patagonia coat. Simply add product specifics as follows:
“Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell 3L Jacket $X00..$Y00”
Note that in late 2019, Google Shopping launched a dedicated price tracking feature. When you clicked on an item in Google Shopping results, there was an option that allowed you to track the price and get an alert if it went down. Unfortunately, this feature was suspended — leaving the Google Alerts method described as your best option to save money.
There are various sites that will show you coupons and promo codes for a particular item, brand or store, but if you’ve ever used one, you know they can be frustrating. DealTaker is top-notch when it comes to keeping their list of offers up-to-date, but few other sites are so diligent.
Often, you’ll find that the coupons (and particularly the promo codes) are expired when you try to use them at checkout. Because Google Alerts arrive in real-time (depending on your settings) the information is very up-to-date and you won’t get as many of those expired coupons and discount codes.
One option is to set up Google Alerts for a specific item, such as the Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell 3L Jacket, and get alerts from all across the web.
For example, the search phrase Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell 3L Jacket Coupon Code will return results that contain all of those words in any combination. (If you put the phrase in quotes, you’ll only get results that are an exact match.)
Another option is to request results from specific stores.
To accomplish this, you’ll need to use the “OR” command, as follows:
“Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell 3L Jacket” Sale DICK’S Sporting Goods OR REI OR Nordstrom
In this example, we’re telling Google to send us any results that contain…
If we didn’t use the “OR” command, Google would only notify us of results that contained all three of those stores.
You can also search for new mentions of a phrase on a particular site using Google Alerts. For example, the below search would provide you with an alert any time there’s a mention of the word Athleta on Dealtaker.com
Google is a big part of our lives now. And although we use the site for everything under the sun, few people know of this great money-saving hack.