Friday, March 2, 2012

Search Like a Pro

I really appreciated that Nancy Warren’s “Search Like a Pro” session was full of current information. She discussed several changes in the leading search engines, including the search procedures, strategies, and privacy policies.

There are basically two search engines left: Google and Bing. All other search engines simply overlay the databases of these “big two.”

Some changes she pointed out:

  • Algorithm changes that influence the order your results will be displayed include current time period, your prior searches (Bing tracks for 28 days, Google for 180), your other accounts (e.g., Facebook), and location.
  • Boolean operators: No longer need to capitalize; AND is not a Boolean operator in Google any more (it is a search term; “and” is default); to use NOT you must put a hyphen before it.
  • Synonymization: search engines automatically offer synonyms, and acronyms are automatically searched (e.g., state abbreviations, W.H.O for "World Health Organization).
  • Punctuation: many punctuation marks are now indexed as search terms ($, apostrophe, &, hypens)
  • Google verbatim can take you back to the “old days” before Google tried to influence your results.
  • Special queries: Nancy showed how to enter math equations, package tracking, flight tracking, time, weather, sunset, sunrise, movie zip codes. She showed how to search a specific web site by typing “site:[website]” into the search box. Can also type “domain:[specific domain type]” or “filetype:[type of file]”
  • Cached pages no longer automatically show in search results, and are dumped after a month.
  • HTML5 is coming quickly. It works better on mobile devices, is more easily indexed.

New search engines to watch are those that market themselves as anti-personalization and do not collect your information. DuckDuckGo, Ixquick, and StartPage.

Overall a very helpful and timely session, especially with Google's new privacy policy rolling out this week!

1 comment:

  1. I also benefitted from this session, and appreciated the shortcuts offered. I plan to show students how to search within sites and find math information quickly when needed. It is unnerving to know that many entities may be tracking our every activity on the Internet. I do make it a point to inform students that everything they post online could potentially stay there indefinitely and circulate the globe. It's a system to be respected, and our students need to be cautious. Rosalie