Constructing a Good Filter

You have a powerful tool at your fingertips, but can you unleash its full potential? The value you get depends on the quality of your filters. Let’s have a look at how you can construct a good one.

In this guide I’ll show you how I would uncover potential new users for Syften itself.

The art of helping people solve problems

Seth Godin, in his exellent book This Is Marketing, gives us this definition:

Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem. It’s a chance to change the culture for the better. Marketing involves very little in the way of shouting, hustling, or coercion. It’s a chance to serve, instead.

It turns out most people are unaware that Google Alerts doesn’t really work. Let’s help them by telling them that.

Looking for interesting threads

A great rule of thumb is that if there were threads in the past that would have been of interest, then we can expect similar ones to come up in the future. Let’s make sure that this time we won’t miss them.

Let’s do a couple of Google searches for a few terms that come to mind. All of these queries will be limited to, as we’re only interested in getting a general idea of the types of discussions people are having.

First try: "google alerts replacement".

Ooups, it seems nobody used that phrasing in the past. It’s unreasonable to assume they will in the future. Let’s try again, this time a more general query: "google alerts" replacement.

It’s better, but can we find a query that yields more than 99 results? It seems that the preferred term is “alternative”, not “replacement”. Let’s try again.

Excellent, exactly what we’re looking for. Every now and again someone on Reddit will be looking for Syften – and it’s up to us to help them. Our new filter becomes:

"google alerts" alternative

It’s almost perfect. Almost, because as we see sometimes the plural “alternatives” is used. Let’s match that by using the star operator. Our final filter becomes:

"google alerts" alternative*

And that’s a high quality filter we can be confident with.


Still not getting any results? Tell me what types of conversations you’re looking for, we’ll brainstorm alternative wordings together.


A good filter has no value unless you react to the results it brings. Learn how to do that without getting banned using the resources below.

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