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I wish to set-up a custom alert that highlights unexpected sources, for example a formerly unknown site linking to mine.

This can be done setting the "compare to past" check-box and then login at the list for a +100% change AND the previous visits are equal to 0

I'd like to automate this, but I can't find the right options when building a custom alerts.

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Check out InboundLinkAlerts by embeddedanalytics. The service was built precisely to detect new linking sites.

(disclaimer: I work with the company).

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