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Google and internet search Search strategies and techniques for better results Executive Research Association 15 th October 2014, London Karen Blakeman RBA Information Services. karenblakeman

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Google and internet search

Search strategies and techniques for better results

Executive Research Association

15th October 2014, London

Karen Blakeman

RBA Information Services

Slides available on authorSTREAM, Slideshare and

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlikeLicense.

  • EU ruling – “right to be forgotten”, current and future implications
  • Google – new developments and their impact on search
  • Alternatives to Google
  • Social media search options
  • Top tips – from you!

eu so called right to be forgotten ruling
EU so called “right to be forgotten” ruling

Mario Costeja Gonzalez

Edition of Monday, January 19, 1998, page 23 - Newspaper -

EU Court of Justice ruled that Google is a “data controller” under Data Protection legislation and must remove, if requested, links to information that is “inadequate, irrelevant .... or excessive” from search results on a person’s name.

eu so called right to be forgotten ruling1
EU so called “right to be forgotten” ruling
  • Information is NOT removed from the web
  • Not automatic – subject has to apply to have links in search results that point to specific information about themselves removed from the results
  • 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.”
  • Not just Google – all search engines with an EU presence
  • Only applies to searches conducted in the EU + Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein

eu so called right to be forgotten ruling2
EU so called “right to be forgotten” ruling

Google now removing results (and also adding back in results!) from searches in European country versions of Google

Google adds removal statement from all results for searches on personal names even if nothing has been removed. (Does not apply to famous people or celebrities!)

Use non-European Google to see all results



Google and the Right to Be Forgotten

BBC News - Thousands of Britons seek 'right to be forgotten'


Search Engine Market Share June 2014


2014 Financial Tables – Investor Relations – Google

five things you need to know about google search
Five things you need to know about Google search
  • 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

private browsing quickest way un personalise search
Private browsing - quickest way “un-personalise”search
  • Chrome - New Incognito window Ctrl+Shift+N
  • FireFoxCtrl+Shift+P
  • Internet Explorer Ctrl+Shift+P
  • Opera Ctrl+Shift+N
  • Will not remove country personalisation
  • Not search engine specific, built into the browser

five things you need to know about google search1
Five things you need to know about Google search
  • 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

google verbatim
Google Verbatim

choosing your search terms
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

five things you need to know about google search2
Five things you need to know about Google search
  • 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


“Normal search”


Search after Verbatim is applied


five things you need to know about google search3
Five things you need to know about Google search
  • Google changes its algorithms several hundred times a year

How Google makes improvements to its search algorithm - YouTube

five things you need to know about google search4
Five things you need to know about Google search
  • We are all Google’s lab rats

Just Testing: Google Users May See Up To A Dozen Experiments

Mostly minor effects on search but sometimes totally bizarre results

Google decides that coots are really lions

Update on coots vs. lions

  • Not just an update but a completely new algorithm
  • No longer concentrating on separate keywords
  • Tries to make “sense” of your search and put it into context, natural language queries
  • 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

google rewrites page titles
Google rewrites page titles

Google's Matt Cutts: Why Google Will Ignore Your Page Title Tag & Write Its Own

http googlesystem blogspot co uk 2013 11 google knowledge graph gets confused html

google gets it wrong yet again
Google gets it wrong yet again

Google "Henry VIII wives": Jane Seymour reveals search engine's blind spots

Image courtesy of Will Oremus

google quick answers
Google Quick Answers
  • “Answers” appear at top of the results page and below the ads
  • Try
    • your favourite football club
    • flight times
    • symptoms of a medical condition
  • Some Of The Weird Issues When Google's Quick Answers Come From Random Sources

and one very very wrong quick answer
And one very, very wrong quick answer

There was no link to the source for this piece of information. About 24 hours after taking this screen shot Google had corrected the error.


But Google’s basic factual data may be wrong!

It's Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results

google authorship
Google Authorship

Without Google Authorship

google doesn t need google authorship
Google doesn’t need Google Authorship?

How Search Engines Discover Who You Are in the Semantic Web (and why this matters to your business)

google search
Google search....
  • is personalised
  • can change minute by minute
  • does not assess the quality of the information
  • is aimed at the consumer market and not the serious, in-depth researcher
  • is mostly free text search
  • structured search is limited even in Scholar
  • does not do Boolean
  • will change your search unless you take steps to stop it

start simple
Start simple....
  • See what synonyms and variations on the terms are used by Google
  • Think of other alternative terms that are not highlighted in the results extracts
  • Sometimes better to run separate searches using different terms rather than use OR
    • wider range and variety of results
    • smaller sets easier to scan and review
    • cannot guarantee best results will be in the first 100, 200...
  • Repeat one or more search terms one or more times
  • Change the order of your terms

country versions
Country versions
  • Use the appropriate country version of the search engine when applicable and available
  • Useful for people, companies or research based/active in a particular country
    • for expertise in deep sea drilling, arctic oil exploration
  • “Local” content given priority
  • Will probably need to search in a foreign language

google commands
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

google commands1
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

zeolites environmental remediation filetype:ppt

zeolites environmental remediation filetype:pptx

google commands2
Google commands
  • Site search
  • For searching inside websites, or groups of sites by type for example government, academic
  • Can exclude sites using -site:

zeolites environmental remediation

zeolites environmental remediation

zeolites environmental remediation

zeolites environmental remediation

google commands3
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

google commands4
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:

zeolites environmental remediation intitle:professor

  • Words in the URL – can be single words or phrases
  • zeolites environmental remediation
  • inurl:professor

google search options
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

  • Date restriction in Search tools does not work with Verbatim
  • Use daterange: command instead
  • Uses Julian date format (fractions omitted)
  • Julian Date Converter
  • Syntax
    • for example pages between June 20th and June 26th 2012 talking about the Statoil/Rosneft cooperationdaterange:2456098-2456104 Statoil Rosneft

daterange the easy way
daterange: the easy way

Third party tools for the daterange: search for example then apply Verbatim

google reading level
Google Reading level
  • Changes the type of material that is returned
  • Nothing to do with publishers assigned reading age
  • Run the search and from the menu above the results select Search tools, All results, Reading level

google reading level1
Google Reading level




Alternatives to Google

  • General search tools

bing yahoo

Yahoo now uses Bing’s database, commands and ranking algorithms

Yahoo Finance still available

No advanced search screen on Bing - use commands

List at Advanced Operator Reference

  • filetype: site: inbody: intitle:
  • AND, NOT, OR parentheses for complex Boolean searches
  • near:n where n is a number, specifies that the terms must be within that number of words of each other and in any order

bing http www bing com
  • Results seem to be more consumer/retail focused
    • more ‘shopping’ than research
    • results improve as soon as you start using the advanced search commands
  • Sometimes more up to date than Google
    • updates sites more frequently
    • adds new sites more quickly
    • useful if you are looking for information on a new company or organisation
  • Many features and options available to US users only
    • changing location and version of Bing does not always work
    • using anonymous proxy does not always work

is bing dropping search terms
Is Bing dropping search terms?
  • Bing may be dropping terms from your search if you are getting very few or no results
  • Solution:
  • use AND between your terms (AND must be in capital
  • letters)
  • prefix an essential term with inbody: for example
  • inbody:aardvark
  • Is Bing dropping search terms?

bingiton com

when did bing win
When did Bing win
  • Holiday destinations
  • Tourist attractions
  • Shopping
  • Parts for a vintage car
  • People

bing gets personal
Bing gets personal

duckduckgo http duckduckgo com
DuckDuckGo –
  • Does not track, does not personalise
  • Results are a compilation of about 50 sources including Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha, Bing, Blekko and its own Web crawler DuckDuckBot. “In partnership with Yandex”
  • Advanced search commands include:

site: inbody: intitle: filetype:

sort:date to sort by date (uses results from Blekko)

region:cc (e.g. de) to boost a country

  • DuckDuckGo Syntax
  • DuckDuckGo – silly name but a neat little search tool


millionshort http millionshort com
  • Million Short: unearthing information hidden in the dungeons of Google’s results
  • Uses Bing API plus other sources
  • Great for finding specialist articles that Google buries beyond reach
  • Options for removing top 10k sites from results - can change to top million, 100k, 1k, 100
  • Can add sites back in, can block sites
  • Can “Boost!” sites so that they always appear at the top
  • Can use site: and filetype: commands [site: does not appear to be working at present]
  • Country versions give different results (under Manage Settings and Country)

million short
Million Short



    • can use site: command
    • for filetype use mime:

nanoparticles environmental remediation mime:pdf

    • has an advanced search screen at
  • Blekko
  • Ask
    • both support filetype: and site:


etools ch

google scholar
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

microsoft academic search
Microsoft Academic Search
  • Journal articles, pre-prints, post-prints, conference proceedings, reports and white papers
  • Free to use but the full text of some papers can only be viewed on payment of a fee to the original journal publisher
  • Author may have several different profiles and articles may be assigned to wrong author
  • Sometimes very slow to load

slideshare net

google plus
Google Plus

facebook graph search1
Facebook Graph Search

Pay for your message to go into recipients main Inbox

twitter search http search twitter com
Twitter Search
  • Advanced Twitter search -

Follow a conference using its hashtag

See opinions of speakers at an event

Links to presentations & papers

See what a person tweets and how they interact with others

use advanced twitter search commands
Use advanced Twitter search commands

See also the free guide on Searching Twitter at

social media search tools
Social media search tools
  • Topsy
  • Icerocket
  • Socialmention

keeping up to date
Keeping up to date

Inside Search

Official Google Blog

Google Scholar Blog

Search Engine Land

Search Engine Watch

Search Engine Roundtable

free fact sheets
Free fact sheets
  • Search Strategies - Selected Google Commands
  • Search Strategies - Search Tools Summary and Comparison
  • Searching Twitter
  • Search Strategies - Top Search Tips
  • Search Strategies - Google Search Tips


Different techniques and approaches are needed for different search tools, social media and professional networks

  • Important to understand how each of the tools works (although they won’t tell you everything)
  • Familiarise yourself with the commands and advanced search options
  • Several, simpler searches often work better than a single, complex one – reflect different aspects of the search
  • Never, never, never trust the “answers” on Google’s results pages