Google is constantly experimenting and not everything sticks. Last Januaryl, Barry Schwartz had screenshots of Google’s new prowess at answering questions – even to go so far as do what Ask could years ago – explain why the sky is blue. I can’t get Google to answer any of my questions – could be my location (Toronto), or Google has retracted them Nonetheless, they may turn up again.
Google Search OneBox Answers Are Getting More Detailed, by Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land (Jan 28, 2014)
Karen Blakeman asks Is Bing dropping search terms? (Mar 1), and it likely is. Gone are the days when we could count on search engines searching for ALL our terms. Too often our search terms are nowhere to be seen – even on large results sets.
Karen gives two ways to force Bing to include all terms. Interestingly, use the Boolean AND, or the prefix inbody:xxx
At Google we need to use Verbatim search, or intext:xxx. Don’t know about AND.
Is Google Goliath and DuckDuckGo David? Here’s another personal account from a person who left Google because of concerns about privacy and turned to DuckDuckGo. This writer tells the consequences in an interesting way: that she lost the convenience of Google knowing all about her, and had to learn how to search again at DuckDuckGo – and, it sounds like,she is glad of the new independence.
How I Quit Google “Spurred by privacy concerns, one writer decided to quit cold turkey — and found what she was searching for”, Julia Angwin, Time (Feb 24)
As soon as I switched, I realized how dependent on Google I had become. Without Google’s suggested searches and perfect memory of what I usually search for, each search required more work from me. For instance, DuckDuckGo doesn’t know that I live in New York City, so when I mistyped “Naturaly History Museum,” it brought up the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. For a comparison, I checked Google — and sure enough, it corrected my spelling and guessed I was in New York, listing the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan at the top of my search results.
DuckDuckGo’s lack of knowledge about me forced me to be smarter in my searches. For instance, I noticed I had become so lazy that I had been typing URLs — like CNN.com — into the Google Search bar instead of the navigation bar, even though I knew exactly where I was going. So I began typing the addresses into the correct spot on my web browser.
Read more: How I Quit Google | TIME.com http://ideas.time.com/2014/02/24/how-i-quit-google/#ixzz2uOmzlLsq
Personalization has really arrived if this is true – Google may be tailoring results to your sequence of searches in a session, not just the single inquiry.
Evolving Google Search Algorithms by Bill Slawski, SEO by the SEA (Feb 21)
It appears that Google has been paying attention to this kind of search behavior from people who search like me. A patent granted to Google earlier this month watches queries performed by a searcher during a search session, and may give more weight to the words and phrases used earlier in a session like that, and might give less weight to terms that might be added on as a session continues.
But at the end, Slawski says Google Hummingbird update (ranking algorithms) uses historical search query sessions.
It is clear from Slawski’s posting that Google does a lot of tinkering and adjusting in the background. Is this good or bad for the information professional doing critical searches? Is this a reason to search anonymously to cut out influence of search history?
Slawski finds some evidence that Google matches on “the topic of a post rather than keywords”. And if it isn’t actually doing that now, it’s very close to doing so.
Will Keywords be Replaced by Topics for Some Searches? by Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea (Jan 16)
Google can get some idea of topic from Freebase where users add content. But Slawski says “it’s possible that Google might look to other sources to better understand things such as topics, such as Open Information Extraction.” It could be matter of statistics of the probablity of query relating to a domain topic.
Google, it appears from this posting, is getting to know websites better – so much so that it can identify or derive the site’s hierarchical structure to create a taxonomy and use that taxonomy to inform analysis of other, similar sites. In short, it has ways for figuring out what a page is “about”.
How Google Uses Taxonomic Classifications to Better Understand the Meanings of Words on Pages by Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea (Feb 9)
There are a couple of reasons for doing this.
- Advertising: “The patent tells us that doing this makes it more likely that the search engine will pick relevant advertisements for pages of the site if the site shows advertisements.”
- Analyzing meaning: “In addition to advertisements, this kind of taxonomic classification of pages enables Google to label words and/or pages with meaning based upon hierarchical categories and/or other features of a taxonomy.”
Use of search engines that don’t track appears to be on the increase judging from this Forbes article.
Why Traffic To These Google Alternatives Is Soaring by Adam Tanner, Forbes (Feb 10)
In early 2013 traffic doubled at Ixquick and Startpage and climbed at DuckDuckGo. Mind – Google in December 2013 still had 67.3 % of the US market at 12.3 billion searches a month – and DuckDuckGo around 135 million.
How do these privacy friendly sites work? Startpage uses Google results which it buys from the company (in a slightly less user friendly interface); its sister company Ixquick, as well as rival site DuckDuckGo, present results compiled from a series of different search engines. For example, DuckDuckGo says its sources are its own web crawler, Yahoo!, Yandex, WolframAlpha, Bing and crowd-sourced sites such as Wikipedia.
Google declined to answer Adam Tanner’s questions about privacy and Google’s use of search records.
Search has been gradually converting from lists of links for matching web pages to results that are analyzed for degree of match to the concept – or the entity. Knowledge Graph at Google is one expression of this. This article describes the change to what the author calls a “rich display”..
From 10 Blue Links To Entity SERPs: Is Your Website Ready? by Barbara Starr, Search Engine Land (Jan 30)
Semantic Search techniques are leveraged by the Search Engines in many stages of the search process. There has been a lot of discussion about how Semantic Search is leveraged to better understand user intent, or transform a query or extract information from a page, but less has been discussed about how semantic search is utilized in other stages of the search process. In this article, I am going to focus on the final stage, in other words, how the semantic results are retrieved (as entities, concepts or objects — however you prefer to think of them) and subsequently displayed to the user.
There’s more to come from semantic search and semantic web.
Google is delivering more answers but not always correctly. Dan Shure reported on his tests: More Google Answer Boxes (That Mostly Fall Short), Evolving SEO (Jan 27)
What is you-speak-your-search? Shure wrote, “I believe voice search is NOT the same thing as entity or Knowledge Graph search and moreover voice search is not anything to do with Hummingbird.” See Voice Search: Strings Not Things — untangles voice, knowledge graph, hummingbird – all different.
Melanie Pinola at LifeHacker offers students tips for searching Google. Hack Tricks – Google Search (Jan 25)
This is a fast tour of using syntax at Google– such as site: to limit to a website; filetype: – to find a pdf or image file; intitle: to look for words in a title of a page. There are more.
- Google discontinued ~ tilde for finding related words
- Author or inauthor used to work for News and maybe Blogs – doesn’t now. Does work in Scholar but may not be reliable.
Article also has tips for Google Books and Scholar.
Of interest: Google Drive has a research tool – will grab the citation in the style you choose (MLA, APA, or Chicago).