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Making Google Behave


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Slides for my session at the Society of Indexers annual conference held at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester. 5th-7th September 2014. The session covered recent changes to the way Google works, how to use Google commands and search options to get better results, and how Google can get it horribly wrong at times.

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Making Google Behave

  1. 1. Making Google Behave Society of Indexers Annual Conference Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester 5-7th September 2014 Karen Blakeman RBA Information Services Slides available on authorSTREAM, Slideshare and This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. 10/09/2014 1
  2. 2. Search Engine Market Share June 2014 10/09/2014 2
  3. 3. 2014 Financial Tables – Investor Relations – Google 10/09/2014 3
  4. 4. Google Play App Revenue Doubles in a Year gle-play-app-revenue-doubles With increased revenue, wearables focus, Google takes fast lane to mobile transition increased-revenue-wearables-focus- google-takes-fast-lane-mobile-transition- 227605.html 10/09/2014 4
  5. 5. Google Brings More "Now" To Search With New Quick Answers with-new-quick-answers-169658 10/09/2014 5
  6. 6. Google search – is free text search – is not aimed at the serious, in depth researcher – does not do Boolean – structured search is limited even in Scholar – is personalised – can change minute by minute 10/09/2014 6
  7. 7. It's Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results authorship-201975 10/09/2014 7
  8. 8. Google Authorship Without Google Authorship 10/09/2014 8
  9. 9. Five things you need to know about Google search 1. Google personalises your search Personalises search based on – location – country, town – past search history – past browsing activity – your activity in other areas of Google e.g. YouTube, blogs, images – your activity on all your devices linked to your Google account – what other people have clicked on for similar searches – the device you are using 10/09/2014 9
  10. 10. Private browsing - quickest way “un-personalise”search Chrome - New Incognito window Ctrl+Shift+N FireFox Ctrl+Shift+P Internet Explorer Ctrl+Shift+P Opera Ctrl+Shift+N Will not remove country personalisation Not search engine specific, built into the browser 10/09/2014 10
  11. 11. Five things you need to know about Google search 2. Google automatically looks for variations on your search terms and sometimes drops terms from your search – Google now tells you which terms it has ignored (some of the time) – “..” around terms, phrases, names, titles of documents does not always work – To force an exact match and inclusion of a term in a search prefix it with ‘intext:’ intext:agricultural occupational asthma – Use Verbatim for an exact match search 10/09/2014 11
  12. 12. Let’s throw it into the soup and see if the cat licks it up 10/09/2014 12
  13. 13. 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’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 with-my-search/#comments 10/09/2014 13
  14. 14. Google – missing terms 10/09/2014 14
  15. 15. Google Verbatim 10/09/2014 15
  16. 16. Choosing your search terms Google automatically looks for synonyms and variations on your terms – biofuels will find biodiesel, biogas, bio-ethanol etc. – but do not get the same results if you use biodiesel instead of biofuels – run separate searches using alternative terms – no information on how the synonyms are identified or implemented The terms you use can radically change results – copper mining north wales – copper extraction north wales 10/09/2014 16
  17. 17. Choosing your search terms 10/09/2014 17
  18. 18. Five things you need to know about Google search 3. Google web search does not search everything it has in its database – two indexes: main, default index and the supplemental index – supplemental index may contain less popular, unusual, specialist material – supplemental index comes into play when Google thinks your search has returned too few results – Verbatim and some advanced search commands seems to trigger a search in the supplemental index 10/09/2014 18
  19. 19. “Normal search” 1,555,500 Search after Verbatim is applied 35,500,000 10/09/2014 19
  20. 20. Five things you need to know about Google search 4. Google changes its algorithms several hundred times a year How Google makes improvements to its search algorithm - YouTube 10/09/2014 20
  21. 21. Five things you need to know about Google search 5. We are all Google’s lab rats Just Testing: Google Users May See Up To A Dozen Experiments up-to-a-dozen-experiments-141570 Mostly minor effects on search but sometimes totally bizarre results Google decides that coots are really lions google-decides-that-coots-are-really-lions/ Update on coots vs. lions update-on-coots-vs-lions/ 10/09/2014 21
  22. 22. Hummingbird Not just an update but a completely new algorithm Tries to make “sense” of your query and put it into context, natural language queries Not just search history but also your location, device being used Announced 26th September 2013 but had already been implemented for about a month Many aspects had been tested over the previous months and past year 10/09/2014 22
  23. 23. Menu options change depending on your search 10/09/2014 23
  24. 24. Google rewrites page titles Google's Matt Cutts: Why Google Will Ignore Your Page Title Tag & Write Its Own match-query-190039 10/09/2014 24
  25. 25. graph-gets-confused.html 10/09/2014 25
  26. 26. EU - so called “right to be forgotten” ruling Edition of Monday, January 19, 1998, page 23 - Newspaper - http://hemeroteca.lavanguardi ina-23/33842001/pdf.html EU Court of Justice ruled that Google is a “data controller” under Data Protection legislation and must remove links to information that is “inadequate, irrelevant .... or excessive” from search results on a person’s name. 10/09/2014 26
  27. 27. Information is NOT removed from the web Subject can apply to have links in search results that point to specific information removed from the results Not just Google – all search engines with an EU presence Only applies to searches conducted in the EU + Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein Not automatic – subject has to apply and request will be assessed to see if the information is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed.” 10/09/2014 27
  28. 28. How to get around it? Google now removing results (and also adding back in results!) from searches in European country versions of Google Indicates on the results page if information has been excluded Google adds removal statement from all results for searches on personal names even if nothing has been removed Use non-European Google to see all results e.g., - but will see country biased results 10/09/2014 28
  29. 29. 10/09/2014 29
  30. 30. Google Knowledge Graph and carousel 10/09/2014 30
  31. 31. Google gets it wrong again 10/09/2014 31
  32. 32. Google gets it wrong yet again Google "Henry VIII wives": Jane Seymour reveals search engine's blind spots jane_seymour_reveals_search_engine_s_blind_spots.html Image courtesy of Will Oremus 10/09/2014 32
  33. 33. Nutrition facts Information from Wikipedia and USDA 10/09/2014 33
  34. 34. Compare 10/09/2014 34
  35. 35. Google Quick Answers Some Of The Weird Issues When Google's Quick Answers Come From Random Sources comes-random-sources-197611 “Answers” appear at top of the results page and below the ads Try – your favourite football club – flight times – symptoms of a medical condition 10/09/2014 35
  36. 36. 10/09/2014 36
  37. 37. 10/09/2014 37
  38. 38. 10/09/2014 38
  39. 39. And then on another day... 10/09/2014 39
  40. 40. And one of many wrong Quick Answers submitted to me by delegates of this conference Many thanks to Philip Stirups for the example. About 24 hours after taking this screen shot Google corrected the error. 10/09/2014 40
  41. 41. Google commands Speech marks around phrases or titles of articles “Geochemical evaluation of flowback brine from Marcellus gas wells” Note: if Google finds no documents, or very few documents, containing your phrase it will ignore the speech marks Verbatim – runs your search exactly as you have typed it Search tools, All results, Verbatim (see earlier slide) intext: before your term – term must be present and exactly as you have typed it UK public transport intext:biodiesel 10/09/2014 41
  42. 42. Google commands Think file format – PDF for research papers, lengthy documents, government reports, industry papers – ppt or pptx for presentations, tracking down an expert on a topic – xls, xlsx or csv for data and statistics filetype: command zeolites environmental remediation filetype:pdf "north sea" deep water drilling filetype:ppt "north sea" deep water drilling filetype:pptx 10/09/2014 42
  43. 43. Google commands Site search For searching large websites, or groups of sites by type for example government, NHS, academic Can exclude sites using -site: agricultural occupational asthma UK agricultural occupational asthma UK agricultural occupational asthma UK agricultural occupational asthma UK – 10/09/2014 43
  44. 44. Google commands Numeric range search Anything to do with numbers and quantities: years, temperatures, weights, distances, prices etc Use the advanced search screen or type in your two numbers separated by two full stops as part of your search Rhodes zeolites environmental remediation 2005..2014 toblerone 1..6 kg 10/09/2014 44
  45. 45. Google commands Words in the title – can be single words or phrases Ensures subject is the main focus of the article Use advanced search screen or intitle: intitle:”diabetic retinopathy” Words in the URL – can be single words or phrases Use advanced search screen or inurl: inurl:”diabetic retinopathy” There are allintitle and allinurl commands but they are unreliable and do not work with other commands 10/09/2014 45
  46. 46. define 10/09/2014 46
  47. 47. Google search options Date Restrict your results to information that has been published within the last hour, day, week, month, year or your own date range Search tools, Any time and select an option 10/09/2014 47
  48. 48. Google search options Reading level Changes the type of material that is returned Run the search and from the menu above the results select Search tools, All results and then Reading level 10/09/2014 48
  49. 49. Google search options 10/09/2014 49
  50. 50. Google Scholar “Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research”. • Search all scholarly literature from one convenient place • Explore related works, citations, authors, and publications • Locate the complete document through your library or on the web • Keep up with recent developments in any area of research • Check who's citing your publications, create a public author profile 10/09/2014 50
  51. 51. Google Scholar Does not cover all key journals in all subjects – no source list Top publications for subjects and languages under Metrics link on home page or Scholar indexes the full text but you may have to pay to view the whole article Groups different versions of an article together 10/09/2014 51
  52. 52. Google Scholar Includes open access material, pre-prints, institutional repositories (but not necessarily author self archived repositories) Includes material that is NOT peer reviewed but is structured and looks like an academic article (title in large font, authors, affiliations, abstract, keywords, citations) Pre-prints and IR copies may differ from final published version – charts and images may be redacted because of copyright restrictions 10/09/2014 52
  53. 53. Google Scholar Does NOT use the publishers’ metadata Date and author search looks in the area of the document where those elements are usually found Page numbers, part of an address, data item may be mistaken for publication year Sometimes gets the author wrong 10/09/2014 53
  54. 54. Google Scholar verified author and citations 10/09/2014 54
  55. 55. Google Scholar advanced search commands Use advanced search screen or commands as follows: + sign before a search term to force an exact match, for example +norne “....” around phrases for example “environmental remediation” intitle: to search for a single word in the title, for example intitle:zeolites environmental remediation allintitle: to search for all of your terms in the title, for example allintitle:zeolites environmental remediation author: to search on an author’s name, for example zeolites environmental remediation author:rhodes site: to limit your search to specific institution for example marcellus shale Commands can be combined for a precise search, for example author:wolford allintitle:marcellus shale 10/09/2014 55
  56. 56. Patents Coverage: – US – Canada – European Patent Office (EPO) – Germany – China – World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Patents available in original language and English (Google Translate) 10/09/2014 56
  57. 57. Includes magazines, journals, archives of newspapers (mainly US) 10/09/2014 57
  58. 58. Google Books Ngram viewer 10/09/2014 58
  59. 59. Google Books Ngram viewer 10/09/2014 59
  60. 60. Google Trends 10/09/2014 60
  61. 61. Google Trends 10/09/2014 61
  62. 62. Google Cultural Institute 10/09/2014 62
  63. 63. Google Art Project 10/09/2014 63
  64. 64. Google ArtProject museum view 10/09/2014 64
  65. 65. 1. Important to keep up to date with what Google and the other search engines are doing, and with regulatory changes Search Engine Land Search Engine Roundtable Search Engine Watch 2. Get to know Google commands and where the search options are hidden 3. Never, never, never trust the “answers” on Google’s results pages 10/09/2014 65