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How to make Google Behave


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

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How to make Google Behave

  1. 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 [email_address] Twitter: @karenblakeman Google Doodle This presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
  2. 2. How it all started 08/02/12 11 November 1998 The Internet Archive Links (citations) a major part of sorting search results
  3. 3. Where is Google now? 08/02/12 2001 Revenues $86,426 thousands Net Income $10,964 thousands 2011 Revenues $37,905 millions Net Income $9,737 millions 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. 4. How Google collects and organises information <ul><li>&quot;Crawls&quot; the internet looking for new and updated pages (follows links) </li></ul><ul><li>Adds copies of pages and documents to its database on thousands of servers around the world </li></ul><ul><li>Has a primary index of higher &quot;quality&quot; documents and a secondary index </li></ul><ul><li>Only primary index searched when running simple searches. Secondary index comes into play with more complex searches and if few results are returned </li></ul>08/02/12
  5. 5. How Google ranks and organises your results 08/02/12 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
  6. 6. All change <ul><li>Gone are </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google Labs, Wonderwheel, Image Swirl, starred results, UK Maps property search, Google Squared, and lots more </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Google no longer &quot;ANDs&quot; your search terms </li></ul></ul><ul><li>New are </li></ul><ul><li>Google+, Search+, search side bars , Search+, Google+, Verbatim, Google+, Search+..... </li></ul>08/02/12
  7. 7. What does Google think you’re interested in? <ul><li>Get a rough idea from your ad preferences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>do not need to be logged in to a Google account </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>browser and machine specific </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>08/02/12
  8. 8. Opt out of targeted advertising <ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Opt Out From Online Behavioral Advertising By Participating Companies (BETA) : </li></ul><ul><li>Network Advertising Initiative </li></ul>08/02/12
  9. 9. Web history <ul><li>Google automatically tracks your searches and what you click on </li></ul><ul><ul><li>results are “personalised” based on your searches and page views </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>you do not have to be logged in to a Google account </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>stored in a cookie on your computer - machine and browser specific </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Web History link appears in drop down menu under the cog wheel in the upper right hand corner of the screen </li></ul><ul><ul><li>click on the link for option to disable/enable Web History </li></ul></ul>08/02/12
  10. 10. Web history associated with your Google account <ul><li>Signed in to your Google account? </li></ul><ul><li>Google account web history </li></ul><ul><ul><li>stored on Google </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Manage your web history from within your Google account </li></ul>08/02/12
  11. 11. Google Instant <ul><li>Tries to predict what you are searching for as you type and displays results as you type </li></ul>08/02/12
  12. 12. Google Instant <ul><li>Only displays 10 results at a time </li></ul><ul><li>Disable Google Instant in Search Settings under the cog wheel (upper right hand corner of your Google screen) </li></ul>08/02/12
  13. 13. Google knows best 08/02/12 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. 14. <ul><li>Dear Google, stop messing with my search </li></ul>08/02/12
  15. 15. Google introduces the “soft AND” <ul><li>“ 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’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).” </li></ul><ul><li>Dan Russell </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>08/02/12
  16. 16. <ul><li>Search Plus Your World (SPYW) referred to as Search+ forces Google+ onto all users (And the next Google killer is….Google! ) </li></ul><ul><li>Simplified privacy policies and information from all your Google services combined. Crossover of information e.g. YouTube/Web search = weird results </li></ul>08/02/12
  17. 17. 08/02/12 Before After
  18. 18. 08/02/12
  19. 19. <ul><li>What I see on my screen for a search is not what you’ll see on yours. </li></ul><ul><li>This affects how we advise users and clients on the best search strategy. </li></ul>08/02/12
  20. 20. Why use Google at all? <ul><li>Google is good at: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>coverage for general web search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>country versions give priority to local content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>localisation at town/city level </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>may have to tell Google where you are based </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>don’t have to tell Google my town if I am looking for a local restaurant, taxi or plumber </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>especially useful when using a mobile device </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>personalisation? Varies from person to person as to whether it is useful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>image search, Maps, Google Finance, Scholar (but know it's limitations) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>rolling out features worldwide </li></ul></ul>08/02/12
  21. 21. Damage limitation <ul><li>If you have a Google account check your dashboard at and remove stuff you don't need or want (won't be possible for everything) </li></ul><ul><li>Sign out of your account before you search </li></ul><ul><li>Turn your web history off, turn Instant off (under Search Settings) </li></ul><ul><li>Increase the number of results that are displayed per page from 10 to at least 30 (under Search Settings) </li></ul><ul><li>If you can, use Google Chrome as your browser and go &quot;Incognito&quot; </li></ul>08/02/12
  22. 22. Use the results sidebars <ul><li>These help you focus your search </li></ul><ul><li>Vary depending on type of search e.g. web, news, images </li></ul><ul><li>Open up the &quot;more&quot; options to see everything </li></ul><ul><li>Verbatim is now one of the most important options </li></ul>08/02/12
  23. 23. Verbatim search <ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>Appears that you can include advanced search commands in your strategy e.g. OR and the tilde (~) for synonyms </li></ul><ul><li>Cannot be combined with time options </li></ul><ul><li>Google: Verbatim for exact match search </li></ul>08/02/12
  24. 24. Location <ul><li>Google uses your IP address to try and identify the country you are in and your town </li></ul><ul><li>Country versions of Google give priority to local content – change to different country Google for a different perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Specifying town useful for very local searching but may want to change location to just UK for general searches </li></ul>08/02/12
  25. 25. Search tricks <ul><li>Imagine what you would like to appear in your ideal document and include those terms in your strategy (you may have to use Verbatim) </li></ul><ul><li>Repeat important search terms in your search strategy </li></ul><ul><li>renewable energy biofuels wave wind wind wind </li></ul><ul><li>Change the order of your terms </li></ul><ul><li>renewable energy biofuels wave wind </li></ul><ul><li>wind renewable wave biofuels energy </li></ul><ul><li>Change one of your search terms </li></ul><ul><li>coots mating behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>coots courtship behaviour </li></ul>08/02/12
  26. 26. Advanced search <ul><li>Advanced Search screen (now hidden under cog wheel in upper right hand corner of the screen) </li></ul>08/02/12
  27. 27. Advanced search <ul><li>Can do more with commands </li></ul><ul><li>For example selecting file type ppt on the Advanced Search screen will only search for ppt and not include pptx </li></ul><ul><li>Use filetype command instead, for example </li></ul><ul><ul><li>diabetic retinopathy filetype:ppt (2870 results) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>diabetic retinopathy filetype:ppt OR filetype:pptx (3050 results) </li></ul></ul>08/02/12
  28. 28. Selected commands <ul><li>filetype: for example pancreatic cancer filetype:xls OR filetype:xlsx </li></ul><ul><li>site: for example pancreatic cancer statistics OR </li></ul><ul><li>inurl : or allinurl: for example diabetes inurl:retinopathy </li></ul><ul><li>intitle: or allintitle: for example allintitle:diabetic retinopathy </li></ul><ul><li>asterisk (*) to search for terms separated by 1-5 words (may have to use quotation marks) </li></ul><ul><li>macular * degeneration </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;macular * degeneration&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Numeric range search </li></ul><ul><li>[search terms] [1 st number]..[2 nd number] [unit of measurement (optional)] </li></ul><ul><li>oil production forecasts 2013..2020 </li></ul>08/02/12
  29. 29. Synonyms <ul><li>Google often looks for variations of your terms but you cannot rely on it always happening </li></ul><ul><li>Use the tilde ~ before a term to look for what Google considers are synonyms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>~energy will pick up oil, fuel, gas, electricity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Synonyms not scientifically accurate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>using ~aspartame adverse reactions will pick up articles on sucralose, which is a very different artificial sweetener </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Can be used with Verbatim </li></ul>08/02/12
  30. 30. Google sidebars 08/02/12 Images Videos News Books Blogs
  31. 31. Google Images – Sites with images 08/02/12 Useful if you want to describe the image, for example moth UK black cream spots
  32. 32. Related searches 08/02/12
  33. 33. Reading level <ul><li>Does not use publishers’ meta data </li></ul><ul><li>Seems to base analysis on number of technical terms and industry specific jargon </li></ul>08/02/12
  34. 34. Social 08/02/12
  35. 35. Translated pages for a different perspective <ul><li>Google suggests languages from context of search but you can choose your own </li></ul><ul><li>Your search is translated and the results are translated into your original language </li></ul>08/02/12
  36. 36. Cached and similar pages 08/02/12 Hover over a result and a &quot;preview&quot; of the page should appear to the right together with cached and similar links
  37. 37. Google Trends 08/02/12
  38. 38. Google Trends for websites 08/02/12
  39. 39. Google Insights for Search 08/02/12
  40. 40. Google Insights for Search 08/02/12
  41. 41. Google alternatives - Bing and Yahoo <ul><li>Yahoo now uses Bing’s database and ranking algorithms for most country versions </li></ul><ul><li>Many of the Advanced Search commands are similar to Google’s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>see Search Tools Summary and Comparison </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bing advanced search screen minimalist - use commands </li></ul><ul><ul><li>detailed list at Advanced Operator Reference (some no longer work) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Also beware – “Bing Adds Adaptive Search, Customized by Your Search History - Search Engine Watch” </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>08/02/12
  42. 42. Bing <ul><li>Most of the interesting developments and features are only available in the US version </li></ul><ul><li>Results tend to be more consumer/retail focused unless using advanced search features </li></ul><ul><li>Coverage not identical to Google’s - sometimes yields important unique content, especially in research and business </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes more up to date than Google </li></ul>08/02/12
  43. 43. DuckDuckGo <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>DuckDuckGo – silly name but a neat little search tool : </li></ul><ul><li>No tracking, no “filter bubble” </li></ul><ul><li>Commands </li></ul><ul><ul><li>site: inbody: intitle: filetype: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>sort:date to sort by date (uses results from Blekko) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>region:cc (e.g. de) to boost a country </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Syntax and keyboard shortcuts at </li></ul>08/02/12
  44. 44. Blekko <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>slashtags for sorting by date (/date), searching for images (/images) and videos (/videos) </li></ul><ul><li>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) </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>wind turbine electricity generation /karenblakeman/renewable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Musings about librarianship: Using Blekko to search across thousands of library sites” </li></ul>08/02/12
  45. 45. Blekko <ul><li>Cannot do filetype, inurl, intitle searches </li></ul><ul><li>Drop down menu next to page in results list for </li></ul><ul><ul><li>site search (or use /site) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>similar pages (or use /similar) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>inbound links to the page (or use /links) </li></ul></ul>08/02/12
  46. 46. Google Scholar <ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>Both peer-reviewed and un-reviewed articles, pre-prints, institutional repositories, references to books, citations </li></ul><ul><li>Does not use publishers’ meta data </li></ul><ul><li>Author search unreliable, search on year of publication unreliable </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes does strange things with your search terms </li></ul><ul><li>Peter Jasco - Google Scholar's Ghost Authors, Lost Authors, and Other Problems </li></ul>08/02/12
  47. 47. Authors encouraged to &quot;claim papers&quot; 08/02/12
  48. 48. Scholar author profile 08/02/12
  49. 49. 08/02/12
  50. 50. Images - copyright <ul><li>Always, always check and double check the copyright - images may have a digital watermark and be tracked e.g. Digimarc </li></ul><ul><li>Creative Commons does not mean you can do what you like with an image </li></ul><ul><ul><li>six licences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Open-licencing your images. What it means and how to do it.” Andy Mabbett aka pigsonthewing </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Karen Blakeman's Blog “Free-to-use images might not be” </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>08/02/12
  51. 51. Google images <ul><li>Make use of search options in the side bar or on the advanced search screen </li></ul>08/02/12
  52. 52. Google Images 08/02/12 “ More sizes” “ Similar images”
  53. 53. Google Images – use an existing image 08/02/12 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. 54. Google images - creative commons, public domain <ul><li>Google advanced image search - use the usage rights, but always double check the licence on the web site </li></ul><ul><li>Public domain </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>but public domain may refer to another photo – check the web site hosting the photo </li></ul></ul>08/02/12
  55. 55. Flickr <ul><li>Flickr Creative Commons or advanced search screen </li></ul>08/02/12
  56. 56. Images - other sources for Creative Commons and public domain images <ul><li>Wikimedia Commons (check the licence information towards the bottom of the page e.g. ) </li></ul><ul><li> - public domain </li></ul><ul><li>Geograph Creative Commons 2.0 </li></ul><ul><li>Most of the images on US government web sites are public domain (but do check) </li></ul><ul><li>NASA - public domain </li></ul>8 February 2012 Karen Blakeman
  57. 57. Google maps <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Public transport option under 'Directions' at last includes trains as well as the underground and buses </li></ul><ul><li>Estimated petrol cost for 'Directions' using a car </li></ul><ul><li>Now shows approximate location of post codes </li></ul>08/02/12
  58. 58. Google street view <ul><li>As well as for personal use, useful for assessing location of a business (but remember out of date images) </li></ul>08/02/12
  59. 59. Google Videos <ul><li>NOT the same as YouTube </li></ul>08/02/12
  60. 60. Video <ul><li>Bing Videos </li></ul><ul><li>YouTube,, </li></ul><ul><li>iTunes, iTunes U </li></ul><ul><li>Blinkx - </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- good for catching up with news </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Zuula - </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- click on the video tab </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Browsys Finder </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- click on the video tab </li></ul></ul>8 February 2012 Karen Blakeman
  61. 61. Google News 08/02/12
  62. 62. <ul><li>Or use the Books option in the menu on the left hand side of the screen </li></ul><ul><li>Includes magazines, journals, newspapers </li></ul>08/02/12
  63. 63. Google Blogs <ul><li>Use the blog option in the results page left hand menu or go to </li></ul>08/02/12
  64. 64. Discussions <ul><li>Forums and Q&As </li></ul>08/02/12
  65. 65. Google Art Project <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>“ 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.” </li></ul>08/02/12
  66. 66. Google Finance <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>08/02/12
  67. 67. Google Public Data Explorer <ul><li> </li></ul>08/02/12
  68. 68. Google Public Data Explorer 08/02/12
  69. 69. Google Internet Stats <ul><li> </li></ul>08/02/12
  70. 70. Fusion tables 08/02/12
  71. 71. Voices for the Library Closures map : 08/02/12
  72. 72. Design your own search engine <ul><li>For </li></ul><ul><ul><li>regularly searched sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>selected sites on a topic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>searching sites on a reading list </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Google Custom Search Engines </li></ul><ul><ul><li> / </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>at least hundreds of sites, maybe thousands! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>can import lists of sites </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need a Google account to set one up </li></ul><ul><li>Cannot search password protected sources or sites where you have to fill in a form to access the information </li></ul>8 February 2012 Karen Blakeman
  73. 73. Want to explore other stuff? <ul><li>Type in your search once and work your way through the search tools </li></ul>08/02/12
  74. 74. Keeping up to date <ul><li>Inside Search </li></ul><ul><li>Official Google Blog </li></ul><ul><li>Search Engine Land </li></ul><ul><li>Search Engine Watch </li></ul><ul><li>Boolean Black Belt-Sourcing/Recruiting </li></ul><ul><li>Karen Blakeman’s Blog </li></ul><ul><li>Phil Bradley's weblog </li></ul>08/02/12
  75. 75. YouTube - Goggle Vision: using electronic resources 08/02/12