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How to make Google Behave


Workshop on Google for UKeiG held in Birmingham on 8th February 2012

Workshop on Google for UKeiG held in Birmingham on 8th February 2012

Published in Technology , News & Politics
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  • 08/02/12 (c) Karen Blakeman 2012
  • Advanced Internet Search Strategies 8 February 2012 (c) Karen Blakeman 2012
  • Advanced Internet Search Strategies 8 February 2012 (c) Karen Blakeman 2012
  • 08/02/12 (c) Karen Blakeman 2012


  • 1. How to make Google behave: techniques for better results Wednesday, 8 th February 2012 University of Birmingham Karen Blakeman RBA Information Services Slides are available at http://www.rba.co.uk/as/ [email_address] Twitter: @karenblakeman http://www.rba.co.uk Google Doodle http://www.venganza.org/2008/04/google-doodle/ This presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
  • 2. How it all started 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk 11 November 1998 The Internet Archive www.archive.org Links (citations) a major part of sorting search results http://www.seobook.com/learn-seo/collateral-damage.php
  • 3. Where is Google now? 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk 2001 Revenues $86,426 thousands Net Income $10,964 thousands 2011 Revenues $37,905 millions Net Income $9,737 millions http://investor.google.com/financial/tables.html 2011 – 96% of revenues are from advertising Google is mass market consumer oriented. Serious researchers wanting reliable, structured search are a miniscule fraction of their customer base.
  • 4. How Google collects and organises information
    • "Crawls" the internet looking for new and updated pages (follows links)
    • Adds copies of pages and documents to its database on thousands of servers around the world
    • Has a primary index of higher "quality" documents and a secondary index
    • Only primary index searched when running simple searches. Secondary index comes into play with more complex searches and if few results are returned
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 5. How Google ranks and organises your results 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk Google personalizes and tailors your results depending on your location, computer/device, browser, past searches, what you have looked at in the past, your +1s, your blocked sites, your Google+ account, your android phone, what you had for breakfast...and anything else it can find by rummaging around in your Google dashboard To see what's in your dashboard log in to your Google account and go to http://www.google.com/dashboard/
  • 6. All change
    • Gone are
      • Google Labs, Wonderwheel, Image Swirl, starred results, UK Maps property search, Google Squared, and lots more
      • The plus sign previously used to force an exact match search (Google suggested quotes around words but that doesn't always work!) But + sign still available in Google Scholar
      • Google no longer "ANDs" your search terms
    • New are
    • Google+, Search+, search side bars , Search+, Google+, Verbatim, Google+, Search+.....
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 7. What does Google think you’re interested in?
    • Get a rough idea from your ad preferences
      • do not need to be logged in to a Google account
      • browser and machine specific
      • http://www.google.com/ads/preferences
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 8. Opt out of targeted advertising
      • http://www.google.com/ads/preferences
    • Opt Out From Online Behavioral Advertising By Participating Companies (BETA) : http://www.aboutads.info/choices/
    • Network Advertising Initiative http://www.networkadvertising.org/managing/opt_out.asp
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 9. Web history
    • Google automatically tracks your searches and what you click on
      • results are “personalised” based on your searches and page views
      • you do not have to be logged in to a Google account
      • stored in a cookie on your computer - machine and browser specific
    • Web History link appears in drop down menu under the cog wheel in the upper right hand corner of the screen
      • click on the link for option to disable/enable Web History
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 10. Web history associated with your Google account
    • Signed in to your Google account?
    • Google account web history
      • stored on Google
    • Manage your web history from within your Google account
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 11. Google Instant
    • Tries to predict what you are searching for as you type and displays results as you type
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 12. Google Instant
    • Only displays 10 results at a time
    • Disable Google Instant in Search Settings under the cog wheel (upper right hand corner of your Google screen)
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 13. Google knows best 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk Hewish mild Google decided to change my search to Jewish mild without asking = Google decides that coots are lions. A search for coots mating behaviour becomes lions mating behaviour
  • 14.
    • Dear Google, stop messing with my search http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2011/11/08/dear-google-stop-messing-with-my-search/
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 15. Google introduces the “soft AND”
    • “ When you do a multi-term query on Google (even with quoted terms), the algorithm sometimes backs-off from hard ANDing all of the terms together.......it’s clear that people will often write long queries (with anywhere from 5 to 10 terms) for which there are no results. Google will then selectively remove the terms that are the lowest frequency to give you some results (rather than none)....Soft AND is a way to reduce the overall frustration and give the searcher something to examine (and with luck, a chance to reformulate their query).”
    • Dan Russell
    • http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2011/11/08/dear-google-stop-messing-with-my-search/#comments
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 16.
    • Search Plus Your World (SPYW) referred to as Search+ forces Google+ onto all users (And the next Google killer is….Google! http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2012/01/30/and-the-next-google-killer-is-google/ )
    • Simplified privacy policies and information from all your Google services combined. Crossover of information e.g. YouTube/Web search = weird results
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 17. 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk Before After
  • 18. 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 19.
    • What I see on my screen for a search is not what you’ll see on yours.
    • This affects how we advise users and clients on the best search strategy.
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 20. Why use Google at all?
    • Google is good at:
      • coverage for general web search
      • country versions give priority to local content
      • localisation at town/city level
        • may have to tell Google where you are based
        • don’t have to tell Google my town if I am looking for a local restaurant, taxi or plumber
        • especially useful when using a mobile device
      • personalisation? Varies from person to person as to whether it is useful
      • image search, Maps, Google Finance, Scholar (but know it's limitations)
      • rolling out features worldwide
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 21. Damage limitation
    • If you have a Google account check your dashboard at http://www.google.com/dashboard/ and remove stuff you don't need or want (won't be possible for everything)
    • Sign out of your account before you search
    • Turn your web history off, turn Instant off (under Search Settings)
    • Increase the number of results that are displayed per page from 10 to at least 30 (under Search Settings)
    • If you can, use Google Chrome as your browser and go "Incognito"
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 22. Use the results sidebars
    • These help you focus your search
    • Vary depending on type of search e.g. web, news, images
    • Open up the "more" options to see everything
    • Verbatim is now one of the most important options
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 23. Verbatim search
    • Forces Google to run an exact match search. Run your search first and then select Verbatim from the left hand menu on your results page
    • Appears that you can include advanced search commands in your strategy e.g. OR and the tilde (~) for synonyms
    • Cannot be combined with time options
    • Google: Verbatim for exact match search http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2011/11/18/google-verbatim-for-exact-match-search/
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 24. Location
    • Google uses your IP address to try and identify the country you are in and your town
    • Country versions of Google give priority to local content – change to different country Google for a different perspective
    • Specifying town useful for very local searching but may want to change location to just UK for general searches
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 25. Search tricks
    • Imagine what you would like to appear in your ideal document and include those terms in your strategy (you may have to use Verbatim)
    • Repeat important search terms in your search strategy
    • renewable energy biofuels wave wind wind wind
    • Change the order of your terms
    • renewable energy biofuels wave wind
    • wind renewable wave biofuels energy
    • Change one of your search terms
    • coots mating behaviour
    • coots courtship behaviour
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 26. Advanced search
    • Advanced Search screen (now hidden under cog wheel in upper right hand corner of the screen)
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 27. Advanced search
    • Can do more with commands
    • For example selecting file type ppt on the Advanced Search screen will only search for ppt and not include pptx
    • Use filetype command instead, for example
      • diabetic retinopathy filetype:ppt (2870 results)
      • diabetic retinopathy filetype:ppt OR filetype:pptx (3050 results)
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 28. Selected commands
    • filetype: for example pancreatic cancer filetype:xls OR filetype:xlsx
    • site: for example pancreatic cancer statistics site:nhs.uk OR site:gov.uk
    • inurl : or allinurl: for example diabetes inurl:retinopathy
    • intitle: or allintitle: for example allintitle:diabetic retinopathy
    • asterisk (*) to search for terms separated by 1-5 words (may have to use quotation marks)
    • macular * degeneration
    • "macular * degeneration"
    • Numeric range search
    • [search terms] [1 st number]..[2 nd number] [unit of measurement (optional)]
    • oil production forecasts 2013..2020
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 29. Synonyms
    • Google often looks for variations of your terms but you cannot rely on it always happening
    • Use the tilde ~ before a term to look for what Google considers are synonyms
      • ~energy will pick up oil, fuel, gas, electricity
    • Synonyms not scientifically accurate
      • using ~aspartame adverse reactions will pick up articles on sucralose, which is a very different artificial sweetener
    • Can be used with Verbatim
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 30. Google sidebars 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk Images Videos News Books Blogs
  • 31. Google Images – Sites with images 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk Useful if you want to describe the image, for example moth UK black cream spots
  • 32. Related searches 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 33. Reading level
    • Does not use publishers’ meta data
    • Seems to base analysis on number of technical terms and industry specific jargon
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 34. Social 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 35. Translated pages for a different perspective
    • Google suggests languages from context of search but you can choose your own
    • Your search is translated and the results are translated into your original language
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 36. Cached and similar pages 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk Hover over a result and a "preview" of the page should appear to the right together with cached and similar links
  • 37. Google Trends http://www.google.com/trends 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 38. Google Trends for websites 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 39. Google Insights for Search http://www.google.com/insights/search/ 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 40. Google Insights for Search 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 41. Google alternatives - Bing and Yahoo
    • Yahoo now uses Bing’s database and ranking algorithms for most country versions
    • Many of the Advanced Search commands are similar to Google’s
      • see Search Tools Summary and Comparison http://www.rba.co.uk/search/compare.shtml
    • Bing advanced search screen minimalist - use commands
      • detailed list at Advanced Operator Reference http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff795620.aspx (some no longer work)
    • Also beware – “Bing Adds Adaptive Search, Customized by Your Search History - Search Engine Watch”
      • http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2109647/Bing-Adds-Adaptive-Search-Customized-by-Your-Search-History
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 42. Bing
    • Most of the interesting developments and features are only available in the US version
    • Results tend to be more consumer/retail focused unless using advanced search features
    • Coverage not identical to Google’s - sometimes yields important unique content, especially in research and business
    • Sometimes more up to date than Google
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 43. DuckDuckGo
    • http://duckduckgo.com/
    • DuckDuckGo – silly name but a neat little search tool : http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2011/11/07/duckduckgo-silly-name-but-a-neat-little-search-tool/
    • No tracking, no “filter bubble”
    • Commands
      • site: inbody: intitle: filetype:
      • sort:date to sort by date (uses results from Blekko)
      • region:cc (e.g. de) to boost a country
    • Syntax and keyboard shortcuts at http://duckduckgo.com/goodies.html
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 44. Blekko
    • http://blekko.com/
    • slashtags for sorting by date (/date), searching for images (/images) and videos (/videos)
    • Use public slashtags to search a group of web sites covering a particular topic or type of site e.g. /library or create your own to search your specified list of sites (similar to Google Custom Search Engines)
        • wind turbine electricity generation /karenblakeman/renewable
    • “ Musings about librarianship: Using Blekko to search across thousands of library sites” http://musingsaboutlibrarianship.blogspot.com/2010/11/using-blekko-to-search-across-thousands.html
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 45. Blekko
    • Cannot do filetype, inurl, intitle searches
    • Drop down menu next to page in results list for
      • site search (or use /site)
      • similar pages (or use /similar)
      • inbound links to the page (or use /links)
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 46. Google Scholar
    • A useful place to start your research or if you are looking for a specific paper but no source list, not comprehensive and omits many key scientific publications
    • Both peer-reviewed and un-reviewed articles, pre-prints, institutional repositories, references to books, citations
    • Does not use publishers’ meta data
    • Author search unreliable, search on year of publication unreliable
    • Sometimes does strange things with your search terms
    • Peter Jasco - Google Scholar's Ghost Authors, Lost Authors, and Other Problems http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6698580.html
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 47. Authors encouraged to "claim papers" 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 48. Scholar author profile 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 49. Mendeley.com 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 50. Images - copyright
    • Always, always check and double check the copyright - images may have a digital watermark and be tracked e.g. Digimarc
    • Creative Commons does not mean you can do what you like with an image
      • six licences http://creativecommons.org/licenses/
    • “ Open-licencing your images. What it means and how to do it.” Andy Mabbett aka pigsonthewing
      • http://pigsonthewing.org.uk/open-licencing-images-what-how/
    • Karen Blakeman's Blog “Free-to-use images might not be”
      • http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2009/07/16/free-to-use-images-might-not-be/
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 51. Google images
    • Make use of search options in the side bar or on the advanced search screen
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 52. Google Images 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk “ More sizes” “ Similar images”
  • 53. Google Images – use an existing image 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk Click on the camera icon in the search box and then either enter the URL of an image or upload it. On the results page you can add keywords to refine the search
  • 54. Google images - creative commons, public domain
    • Google advanced image search - use the usage rights, but always double check the licence on the web site
    • Public domain
      • carry out your search in the image search bar and when the results appear on screen add &as_rights=cc_publicdomain to the end of the string in the URL/address bar of your browser
      • but public domain may refer to another photo – check the web site hosting the photo
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 55. Flickr
    • Flickr Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons or advanced search screen http://www.flickr.com/search/advanced/
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 56. Images - other sources for Creative Commons and public domain images
    • Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/ (check the licence information towards the bottom of the page e.g. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thomas_Beach_by_Thomas_Beach.jpg )
    • MorgueFile.com http://www.morguefile.com/ - public domain
    • Geograph http://www.geograph.org.uk/ Creative Commons 2.0
    • Most of the images on US government web sites are public domain (but do check)
    • NASA http://www.nasa.gov/ - public domain
    8 February 2012 Karen Blakeman www.rba.co.uk
  • 57. Google maps
    • maps.google.co.uk
    • Public transport option under 'Directions' at last includes trains as well as the underground and buses
    • Estimated petrol cost for 'Directions' using a car
    • Now shows approximate location of post codes
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 58. Google street view
    • As well as for personal use, useful for assessing location of a business (but remember out of date images)
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 59. Google Videos
    • NOT the same as YouTube
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 60. Video
    • Bing Videos
    • YouTube, Vimeo.com, DailyMotion.com
    • iTunes, iTunes U
    • Blinkx - http://www.blinkx.com/
      • - good for catching up with news
    • Zuula - http://www.zuula.com/
      • - click on the video tab
    • Browsys Finder http://www.browsys.com/finder/
      • - click on the video tab
    8 February 2012 Karen Blakeman www.rba.co.uk
  • 61. Google News http://news.google.co.uk 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 62. books.google.com
    • Or use the Books option in the menu on the left hand side of the screen
    • Includes magazines, journals, newspapers
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 63. Google Blogs
    • Use the blog option in the results page left hand menu or go to http://www.google.com/blogsearch/
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 64. Discussions
    • Forums and Q&As
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 65. Google Art Project
    • http://www.googleartproject.com/
    • “ A unique collaboration with some of the world’s most acclaimed art museums to enable people to discover and view more than a thousand artworks online in extraordinary detail.”
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 66. Google Finance
    • http://www.google.co.uk/finance
    • http://www.google.com/finance
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 67. Google Public Data Explorer
    • http://www.google.com/publicdata/
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 68. Google Public Data Explorer 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 69. Google Internet Stats
    • http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/landing/internetstats/
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 70. Fusion tables http://www.google.com/fusiontables/ http://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?snapid=S199717WCd8 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 71. Voices for the Library Closures map : http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/wordpress/?page_id=765 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 72. Design your own search engine
    • For
      • regularly searched sites
      • selected sites on a topic
      • searching sites on a reading list
    • Google Custom Search Engines
      • http://www.google.com/cse /
      • at least hundreds of sites, maybe thousands!
      • can import lists of sites
    • Need a Google account to set one up
    • Cannot search password protected sources or sites where you have to fill in a form to access the information
    8 February 2012 Karen Blakeman www.rba.co.uk
  • 73. Want to explore other stuff? Zuula.com
    • Type in your search once and work your way through the search tools
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 74. Keeping up to date
    • Inside Search http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/
    • Official Google Blog http://googleblog.blogspot.com/
    • Search Engine Land http://searchengineland.com/
    • Search Engine Watch http://searchenginewatch.com/
    • Boolean Black Belt-Sourcing/Recruiting http://www.booleanblackbelt.com/
    • Karen Blakeman’s Blog http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/
    • Phil Bradley's weblog http://philbradley.typepad.com/
    08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk
  • 75. YouTube - Goggle Vision: using electronic resources http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5slpJMRWKA8 08/02/12 www.rba.co.uk