Searching Social with Mary Ellen Bates

Mary Ellen Bates  has tips for Seriously Searching Social in this latest slideshow presented at Websearch University, September 29. First – be reminded that online social networks are to be used strategically . She shows settings to use at Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. Next she covers the Dos and Don’ts of searching social and reviews several strategies.

RIP Yahoo Directory

The Yahoo Directory, which in the early years of web search was the most valuable service, is to be closed.

Searching the Yahoo Directory (2008)

Searching the Yahoo Directory (2008)

This is not a surprise – it began as a guide to better sites, turned somewhat commercial – maybe very commercial, had an overhaul or two that integrated it more with web search (and made it less useful). Directories have been falling away over the past few years – especially the good ones such as the scholarly Intute in the UK. Open Directory still limps along – desperately in need of a new look. In a time when personal curation is so popular – Pinterest as one example – and it is clear that we benefit from reviewing the selections of others, can no one make the subject directory viable?

Yahoo feels no obligation to make it work, and in its announcement hardly acknowledged the importance of the directory.

“While we are still committed to connecting users with the information they’re passionate about, our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (December 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory”

The Yahoo Directory — Once The Internet’s Most Important Search Engine — Is To Close Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land (Sept 26)

Sullivan attributes the decline to Google’s success at delivering relevant results to a search query. But I’ll add to this that keyword search suits most searchers and their queries better. In many cases they want an exact answer, not a list of sites that are “about” a topic. However, someone could have designed an amalgam that provided the advantages of handpicked sites, classification, and keyword search. Turns out it wasn’t to be Yahoo.

Getting away from ads

Google tools are easy to use and very effective, but collect a lot of information about us. How much should we reveal about ourselves? This article has alternatives: DuckDuckGo for search, Firefox rather than Chrome for browsing, Zoho docs instead of Google docs, and Fastmail instead of Gmail – if you have to use a webmail service.

How to ditch Google for more privacy and fewer ads, Derek Walter, PCWorld (Sept 9)

If you’ve decided that keeping all your eggs in one online basket is unwise, there are viable alternatives. Some are arguably not as full-featured as what Google has. But using your email without ads or knowing that performing a web search won’t result in a ton of related advertisements may be enough to encourage you to go on a Google-free diet.

Importance of navigation

The best designed sites provide clear navigation structure (such as a taxonomy or table of contents) to direct users to content. That structure, as we learn in this article, informs and guides users, in ways that keyword search doesn’t. Keyword search requires that the user have knowledge and a specific skill.

Search Is Not Enough: Synergy Between Navigation and Search, by RALUCA BUDIU, Nielson Norman Group (September 7, 2014)

Navigation serves important functions: it shows people what they can find on the site, and teaches them about the structure of the search space. Using the navigation categories is often faster and easier for users than generating a good search query. Plus, many times site search does not work well or requires users to have a good understanding of its limitations.

DuckDuckGo and Apple

Only 7% in a survey of 521 people knew about DuckDuckGo. Let’s change that. This is an excellent search engine that is designed to return answers – and on many “knowledge” type questions does as well as Google’s Knowledge Graph or Bing’s Snapshot. And with DuckDuckGo you benefit from its policy of not saving search history. Apple has recognized  its value and has included it in iOS 8, the latest version of the iPhone operating system.

Could DuckDuckGo Overtake Bing? by Eli Schwartz, Search Engine Land.

With more consumer awareness of alternatives like DuckDuckGo, that tipping point might not be too far in the future. If ever this event occurs, it is entirely conceivable that the surge of new users could push DuckDuckGo ahead of Bing. (According to our survey, only 7.7% of respondents used Bing on a daily basis.)