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Search Engine Update

March 21, 2011

Greg Notess presented this popular session.  We are pretty much down to Google and Bing.  Yahoo is being powered by Bing.  Ask is contracting its database out to some yet unnamed company, and has been focusing on its Q&A technologies.  Cuil is gone.  Smaller search engines like Blekko, Exalead, and Gigablast are out there but nothing is at the level, size, and scope of Google and Bing.

Death of search?  We’ve seen the behavior of searchers change over the years.  Content farming is having a detrimental effect on the accuracy and clarity of search engine results.  There is a huge economic side to this (advertising).  eHow and Wikipedia don’t have bad information necessarily, but you need to be cautious.  So who qualifies as content farmers?  Allexperts, ChaCha, Answerbag, Mahalo, eHow, Encyclopedia.com, 123people, FixYa, Seed, ShopWiki, and more.  Associated Content was purchased for $100 million by Yahoo.  AOL starts up Seed and then buys the Huffington Post for $300 million.  Demand Media had an IPO that had an over $1 billion valuation.

What are the content farmers writing about?  When we start to recognize content farm materials, know that they were very quickly created by the writers…which definitely effects quality.  There is also a lot of screen-scraping happening –near duplicate content of original content on aggregator websites.

Google has had some major changes recently.  They launched Panda Update, which was an attempt to target the content farm sites.  This has changed more than 11% of the results through Google.  How well did it work?  Many domains lost ranking: ezinearticles.com, associated content, and others.  But eHow, one of the most egregious examples of a content farm, actually gained a little bit of traction in results.  Hmmm…

Google blocking is useful: choosing to block all results from a particular domain in your search results.  But do you really benefit from this?  Sites change their content completely, which could happen on some of these content farm sites.  3 or 4 years from now will you remember which sites you blocked?

The little stars that let you “favorite/bookmark” a site in search results are now gone in Google.

The big change in this last year with Google is the sidebar.  There is a list of only a few select databases (everything, images, video, etc.) but you need to click on More to see a full list, something easily missed.  One of the new databases is “Recipes” but be aware that these only show sites that have used special Google mark-up language to be included.

Google has been working hard to have better date information about their search results (when information first posted).  It’s an easy way to limit results to only recent resources.

There are some other options in the sidebar, like “Social” which requires you to be logged in and to have a Google profile set up.

Greg also showed the many additional options in the Advanced Search page.

Google calls the “sponsored results” “Ads” now.  Yay!  Clear language.

Greg talked about Google Instant as well…a technology that saves Google processor time and money, but not really a benefit for the user, says Greg.  With Google Instant on you only get 5 recommended search terms as you type in the search box, whereas without Instant you get 10.   Chrome now has in the Omni box (the URL bar) the ability to do instant search too.

Google Preview gives you the little magnifying glass next to the search result.  This is really a copy of something Bing was doing.  You can’t turn them on or off.  Most people dislike them in our session room.

Google Encrypted Search – if you are at a firewalled location, you can encrypt your searches so that your internet service provider can’t see what you’re searching.  Only Google can (muah ha ha ha ha).

What features did we lose from Google?  Search wiki, the little bookmark stars.  The top toolbar changed a bit.

Social searching that shows up in Google is a lot of different sites, but not Facebook.

With Bing, if you have Facebook Connect, you can see that information in your results. Blekko shows pages and sites that have been liked by friends on Facebook.

If you have a large Facebook network, this is useful.  If not, then not so much.

Bing still has the cached page link (though it moved).  It also allows you to share search results through Twitter, Facebook, etc.   They have scholarly searching as well that pulls in Microsoft Academic Search data.  The image search pulls in particularly different search results than Google Image Search does.

Greg recommends looking at your search engine preferences, including the ability to see what types of ads are being served up to you and why.  You can opt out of this so that you’re not profiled for ads.

Blekko is interesting – Greg suggests trying out /liberal and /conservative.  He also recommends looking at Qwiki.

“Search Engine Update”

  1. Krista Says:

    Sarah, are the Google databases limited to the US for now? I keep trying to find the recipes feature, but am unable (in Stratford Ontario).

  2. Sarah Says:

    They may be limited to the US. A quick search for info on where they’re being made visible didn’t turn any useful info up, but if you’re not seeing it, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s US-limited right now. SORRY!

  3. #CIL11 Says:

    [...] Houghton-Jan (aka The Librarian in Black) is attending the conference as a presenter, delegate and moderator.  She spent the first day of the conference in the [...]

  4. Jean Thomas Says:

    Thank you for posting this summary! I attended an SAOUG Conference in Pretoria in 2005 where Greg Notess gave a presentation and workshop on search engines and it is interesting to hear what he is speaking about now.

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