Monday, October 20, 2008

Super Searcher Shares: Search Tips Spectacular!

Mary Ellen Bates never fails to expand my web toolbox. She whittled down her customary 30 search tips to 20 this year so she could spend more time exploring them with us. Since one site apparently has disappeared into limbo, make that 19!
  1. Google Translated Search - Why let your monolingualism restrict your web searching? Enter your search terms, then select your language and the language of the pages you wish to search. Google seamlessly translates your search terms into the target language, runs the search, and then retrieves and translates the results into your native language. Wow!
  2. Ever tried using Google's date restrictor to get current results only to find your results littered with sites with older dates? Google News Archive Search is new and improved. You can limit your results in a number of ways including those published within the last hour, day, or week.
  3. Google Trends offers a way to graph the news. It charts the frequency of the word searched and also its frequency in the news. A search volume graph is presented along with a news reference volume graph. The cities where searchers live, calculated using IP addresses, is shown. You can track when the interest in a topic peaked.
  4. Yahoo! Search Assist - Have you ever noticed a small downfacing tab on the upper left side of your Yahoo! search results? Click on it to view suggestions for related or complementary terms to expand or narrow your search.
  5. Yahoo!’s brackets are easy peasy. Just enclose two words in brackets [like this]. This signals Yahoo! to retrieve the words in that order but not necessarily next to each other. The first word you enter will precede the second word, which can be located anywhere on the page. Example: [subprime crisis] retrieves "subprime mortgage crisis," "subprime lending crisis," "subprime mortgage industry," etc.
  6. Yahoo! Glue is from Yahoo!'s India bureau. It offers a veritable cafeteria line of blended search results that are not displayed linearly. Handles different types of information well. Click on the Glue Page tab in your search results. You'll find Related Pages links along the top. A snippet from Wikipedia will be offered. Quick facts are listed below Wikipedia snap, which can lead you to more information and ways to search your topic. Google Blog search results are included. Your actual boring search results list appears on the left side while images are displayed on the right side. Try searching "United Nations," which was Mary Ellen's example.
  7.’s product reviews are wonderful! Run a search for a specific brand and Live will compiles reviews from other sources. Great for shopping because user reviews of product features are compiled and graphically portrayed. For example, searching for a digital camera shows recommended models for features, size, ease of use, photo quality, screen, affordability, portability, etc. The criteria displayed changes by the type of product searched. Once again -- here's the theme of Mary Ellen's presentation this year -- here's a search service that tries to aggregate results and make sense of them.
  8. State your preferences in LiveSearch. Sample search: “hybrid cars” prefer:convertible. Doesn’t drop searches that lack the preferred word but the results that include the preferred word do display at the top. Related searches also are suggested.
  9. Searchme has an amazing user interface that detects the different meanings of your search term. Example: Icons appear under the search box when you pause after typing sun. Is your interest astronomy, software, etc.? Click on an area for focused search results. Mary Ellen didn't mention this feature, but you can create Searchme stacks. Here's a link to the demo video. It lets you group sites you select and then scroll through them using an interface reminiscent of iTunes Cover Flow. You can email SearchMe stacks, which could be great for answering reference questions!
  10. Powerset is another sense-making search engine that at this point only works with Wikipedia. It's good for extracting information about your terms from all of the Wikipedia articles that contain it. Check out its Factz feature by searching plutonium. You'll see your search noun combined with verbs and facts: plutonium forms, plutonium contains, and plutonium makes and about fifty other pairings are presented to communicate key ideas and shows you ways to expand or narrow your search. Powerset recently was purchased by Microsoft, which leads Mary Ellen to expect that it will be expanded to include beyond Wikipedia searching to include the rest of the web.
  11. searchCrystal offers a way to "search and compare multiple engines in one place.
    It is a search visualization tool that enables you to compare, remix and share results from the best web, image, video, blog, tagging, news engines, Flickr images or RSS feeds." It's a type of metasearch engine that attempts to group results by looking for key phrases and words. You can navigate the content from a lot of different sources. Mary Ellen believes its ability to distill information is an automatic version of what we do when we skim results.
  12. Carrot2 provides clustering on demand and, unlike Clusty, offers you a choice of sorting algorithms. For example, enter aviation safety in the search box and click on the Show options link. The maximum number of results on most clustering sites is 100 but you can get up to 400 search results. Show option on right side of search box. Can get up to 400 search results. Don't like the results? Choose another clustering algorithm from the pulldown menu. Don't worry -- the names of these puppies aren't going to ring any bells.
  13. Silobreaker, which boasts "insight as a service" helps you visualize the news by aggregating it in a number of ways. See relationships between people and emerging industry trends. Identify unexpected relationships. It offers a trends search, network search, hot spots (where news is happening) search, 360-degree search as well as looking at the latest blog postings. It compiles updated fact sheets. You also can filter results to limit them to specific types of news such as environmental news.
  14. You've seen those tag clouds that indicate how many results each word has by its size. If not, look at this one at Flickr. SearchCloud gives you a comparable way to weight your search terms! Enter search terms one at a time and select the text size that indicates the importance of the term. The larger the text size you select, the more heavily weighted the word will be in your search results. Mary Ellen's example: solar nanotechnology in large text and green renewable in smaller text. You can even select a "cut to the chase" grid view of your search results that include srelevancy rankings.
  15. Loki is a toolbar you download to work in your browser. Mary Ellen does a lot of travelling and sometimes she wakes up uncertain which city she's in! With Loki, she can ascertain her location and, most importantly, quickly find the location of the closest Starbucks without needing to know the address of the hotel where she's staying. Loki works with your computer's IP address or nearby wi-fi signals to map where you are now.
  16. Serph is a Web 2.0 metasearch engine for blogs, social media sites, social news, and social bookmarking sites. Downside: It caps out at under 300 results. Results include Bloglines, Technorati, YouTube, etc. It's a way of finding where to search, which -- as previously mentioned -- is the theme of this presentation.
  17. Twing mines discussion forums and online communities. It can be an effective way to locate an obscure expert. It works best when you’re looking for something very focused. Example: 800 mhz interference. Mary Ellen claims only 40 people care passionately about this topic and Twing helped her find an expert when she was researching it for a client.
  18. Get the conference buzz when you have to stay at home by searching Technorati with the conference's blog tab. (IL2008, for example.) Bloggers sometimes transcribe conference slide shows so you can get a sense of a conference's key themes and ideas. This is also a way to catch live blogging during presentations. (I suppose this strategy will work at conferences that offer web access!)
  19. Spokeo collects postings from lots of social sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Amazon Wish List, Blogs45, Flickr, YouTube, and even includes some web content. You can search by a person’s email address. Verdict: Creepyo -- but it might be an effective way to convince teens to be judicious about postings that might catch up with them later. Spokeo's home page has a yellow banner that reads: "HR Recruiters: Click Here Now."

No comments: