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Posts tagged with: search

Google’s Lesser known Search Operator – AROUND(n)

Amit Agarwal of Digital Inspiration recently blogged about a new Google search operator that totally missed my radar. But according to Googler Daniel M. Russel, who was the first one to write about this AROUND operator in early October 2010 – this operator has been around for over 5-6 years!

Google AROUND(n) Operator

AROUND operator is basically a proximity search operator that lets you find a phrase that happens to be in close proximity of another phrase. Previously if you have searched for a term like: pancake recipe in Google search (without any quotes), what it would basically do is search the entire web for the term “pancake” + “recipe” and will return the pages where both these terms happens to be on the same page (regardless of their proximity).

But then you may sometimes prefer to do a phrase search / exact match search where they can put your search term inside quotes, like “pancake recipe” and then Google will only return results where the word pancake and recipe appears together.

So in this example the results returned via the first technique is often ‘too broad’ and the latter is ‘too specific’. What if you want something that is in between? Even better, what if you could specify the exact proximity of your two keywords (in words) to get more desired results?

With this Google AROUND(n) Operator, you can do just that!

Syntax: Keyword1 AROUND(n) Keyword2 [Where n = number of words (proximity)]

So the same search of pancake recipe can be performed using something like this: pancake AROUND(10) recipe. Here I’m telling google to return all those pages where the keyword – pancake & recipe appears within the proximity of 10 words.

google around search operator

Some Notes:

  • If my keyword1 contain multiple words (e.g. breakfast pancake instead of just pancake), then you can use “quotes” to limit the search scope of your first keyword to only breakfast pancakes. So it will look something like this: “breakfast pancake” AROUND(10) recipe
  • The word AROUND needs to be in CAPS in order for this to work
  • If Google can’t find anything within the limit that you specified, it will just do regular ranking of the terms without the AROUND coming into play.
  • Barry Schwartz pointed out that Microsoft’s Bing also have a similar search operator called “near:n” which works pretty much the same way. You can read more about it here.

Google Instant – Search The Web Instantly As you Type

google instant

Google has just rolled out a new product – Google Instant that lets you search the web instantly the moment you start typing your search query in Google’s Search Box. Googler Marissa Mayer called it “search at the speed of thought.”

According to Google, the average search takes about 25 seconds, and about 24 of those tick by while you’re either typing keywords or deciding which result to choose. Google has been working really hard over the years to improve the speed of their server, network architecture, internet backbone, browser technologies to deliver search results faster. And I have to say that they did a pretty good job on that. However there are certain human factors which are beyond Google’s control – for instance, what if the searcher can’t seem to find the right result, or what if the searcher can’t communicate what he wants via a search phrase etc. Google has tried to tackle some of the human factors with products like Google Suggest which is Google’s auto complete feature for search keywords, the auto spelling correction, related searches and so on.

But now with this new Google Instant, they really want to take everything to the next level. Google Instant takes what you have typed already, predicts the most likely completion and streams results in real-time for those predictions—yielding a smarter and faster search that is interactive, predictive and powerful.

Some Cool Features of Google Instant:

Truly Dynamic Results – Google dynamically displays lots of relevant search results as you type in your search query. You don’t need to click anything or even hit enter. This allows you to easily interact with your results and click through to the web content you need.

Auto Predictions – One of the key technologies in Google Instant is that it can predict the rest of your query (in light gray text) before you finish typing your complete search phrase. So if you happen to find what you need, you don’t need to complete your search phrase.

Scroll to search – Google Instant allows you to Scroll through predictions and see results instantly for each as you arrow down.

Google Instant – Demo Video

Check out Google Instant: http://google.com/instant


Get Yahoo on your Andorid Phone

Yahoo has finally released Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Mail & Yahoo! Messenger for the Android mobile platform. With the yahoo search widget, android users can access web search directly from their mobile’s home screen.

yahoo mobile andorid

The user interface of this widget is pretty simple and fits nicely on the size of your phone screen. You can interact with the widget by not only typing (via the touch screen) but also using your own voice. (Yes, it supports voice input, but I believe this is a feature of the phone/android OS itself). But regardless of how you enter the query, Y! search suggestions will help you to find what you’re looking for. The new Yahoo! Mobile search results also shows different shortcuts, news and deeper results only a tap away. For instance if you search for “world cup” it gives a concise set of the latest scores and news, with deeper results about the games, the players the stats and so on.

Yahoo Search Widget for Android

To get Yahoo! search widget on your android phone, firstly download the app from the Android Market and then touch and hold your homescreen. A list will popup, select Yahoo Search from the widget menu — and viola; it’s going to be on your home screen!

Yahoo Mail & Messenger for Android

Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Messenger is also available on all Android devices now as standalone applications, but are also integrated to provide an optimal Yahoo! communications experience. Both the apps comes with features like rich text formatting, Yahoo! emoticons, and access to the Yahoo! Address Book, in apps that are designed from the ground up for the Android platform.

Features Yahoo! Mail App for Android:

– Push notification of new email messages
– Availability of Yahoo! Address Book as well as contacts in the native phone address book
– Good Search Feature. You can search email messages by sender, recipient, subject and keywords in the body of the email
– You can upload photos as attachments directly from camera or your android’s photo gallery
– You can toggle between the Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Messenger apps with ease

Get Yahoo! Mail App for Andorid here.

Features of Yahoo! Messenger App for Android:

– Easy Contact management. Check friends’ status updates & availability as well as update their own status & availability
– Send instant messages to friends via SMS text messages
– Y! Messenger can run in the background with full multitasking support
– Full use of emoticons and rich text formatting
– Send photos to friends directly from the phone’s camera or the photo gallery

Get Yahoo! Messenger for Android here.

You can try out the Yahoo! Search widget and other available yahoo widgets by scanning the barcode below with your Android phone.

Yahoo Barcode for Android


Yahoo Real-Time Search Suggestions

Yahoo has recently updated their Yahoo! search assist to provide near real-time search suggestions to the users. Yahoo Search assist is very similar to Google Suggest that gives you search phrase suggestions as you type in a query in the search box.

However with the new Yahoo Search assist the suggestions that you will get are likely to be ‘real-time’ and a bit ‘time aware’ says Linda Wang, Senior Product Manager of Yahoo Search. So if you want to find out who will Netherlands play next in the world cup, you can search – “Netherlands vs” and Yahoo search assist will automatically show you suggestion based on real-time results.

yahoo realtime search assist

This feature also works in the Yahoo News search, thus when you are searching for a news story you will get real time news search suggestions based on the keywords that you enter in the search box.

Yahoo News Search Suggest

For some reason, I couldn’t really test out this feature as its not working at my end. This might be one of those “US only” additions. I personally think that this feature would be excellent for mobile devices.


BlueGlass Interactive says “Hallo World!”

blueglass logo
A couple of pioneer Internet Marketing companies has partnered up together to create what I call an AWESOME One stop Internet marketing agency – BlueGlass Interactive. The parties of the mergers are Tampa based firm Search & Social (the mother ship of SEJ), Second Step Search with New York based 10e20 and several other reputed firms & individuals.

blueglass-equation

After looking at their website and browsing through their team profiles It is pretty clear what BlueGlass intends to do, Like Garyvee says – I think they are here to “Crush It”! The merger has brought together some of the best minds in the online marketing industry and with their diverse experience & clientèle, they can really position themselves as ‘the place’ to go to for any business who wants to excel on the web. Currently they are offering a wide range of services including Social Media Marketing, Organic SEO, PPC account management, Online reputation management, Facebook & Mobile app development, Content development and many more.

And thats not all, they are also holding BlueGlass LA, a conference in LA on July 19 & 20, 2010 which will cover a range of topics from entrepreneurship, to search marketing, internet marketing and more. I have been told that this event is going to be kept exclusive for a small crowd therefore grab a ticket before its too late. If you are in LA or can fly there for two days, don’t miss this chance! The networking session itself will be worth the money!

Blueglass conference

The speaker lineup for BlueGlass LA is pretty extensive too, I quickly scanned through the long list and saw – Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz, Neil Patel from KISSMetrics
Ben Huh from ICanHasCheezburger, Tony Adam from MySpace, Loren Baker from Search & Social, Jessica Bowman from SEO in house, David Szetela from Clix Marketing, Marshall Simmonds from The New York Times, Vanessa Fox from NinebyBlue and many more! Do check out the Agenda, if you are interested to know which topics are going to be covered in the conference.

Follow BlueGlass on Twitter & Facebook and stay tuned for more goodies.


Google Launches “Encrypted Search”

google secured search Google has just launched a new feature that will make your search more secure than ever before! With Google’s new encrypted search page (currently in beta), searchers will have the ability to search on a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) page at all time ensuring that their search terms and google result pages are completely secure from network intercepts & hacking attempts.

Google has this feature already built inside Google Mail (Gmail) and Google docs but this is the first time they are introducing this in their main search platform. Anybody can try out the Google secure encrypted search by going to: https://google.com (yes, don’t forget the ‘s’ after http). Once you add the Https before the regular Google URL, both your search terms and search results will be encrypted as they travel across networks. This makes it much harder for third-parties to intercept them.

“When you search on https://www.google.com, an encrypted connection is created between your browser and Google. This secured channel helps protect your search terms and your search results pages from being intercepted by a third party on your network. The service includes a modified logo to help indicate that you’re searching using SSL and that you may encounter a somewhat different Google search experience, but as always, remember to check the start of the address bar for “https” and your browser lock indicators..”

Google’s Secure search feature is still in Beta. They pointed out that they aren’t changing the default to ‘secure’ because of the following reasons:

  • Confusion: People might think that other pages which aren’t SSL enabled are not secured. But this isn’t necessarily true.
  • Speed: There is a minor speed issue when they add an extra layer of security (encryption) over top of the existing data. However I played with it for a while and I didn’t notice any significant difference in speed.
  • Cross product security: Not all other google products which are linked from the search page (e.g. Google Images, Google Maps) are SSL enabled. Thus even if you use the SSL enabled page for your first search, you might eventually end up in a non-ssl page

Google highlights that using the secure page doesn’t necessarily mean that your ‘search queries’ and your information aren’t stored by Google. The Secure Google page only prevents unauthorized individuals to intercept your queries/data on a network level.

Personally I don’t really see a use for this for normal users. However government, big enterprises might actually find this quite useful. An individual’s search history can tell a lot about that person. And if that person is a key individual of a big corporation or government, the security of that data is really essential.

So test this out and let me know in the comments if you see any significant ‘speed difference’. Is it slower than the regular Google search?

Try it out right now, go to: https://google.com.


Google Wants to Prevent Suicides

The world’s largest search engine – Google – is popular for making drastic changes to make its site better for its users. Recently, the search engine has attempted to help users who are probably thinking of committing suicide. How? Now every time a person searches for “suicide” or anything related to suicide, Google will show a phone number that the user can call to get counseling. The number will be shown beside a red phone icon. This number is a toll-free one and connects the user to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Google wants to prevent suicide

The word “suicide” or its other form must be present in the search query; for instance, both “suicidal thoughts” and “ways to commit suicide” will result in Google showing the phone number. Google has confirmed that the number will be put above than other results; the number will also be more visible than advertisement content. In this way, the search engine aims to prevent suicide in the country.

Google has conceived the idea for some time now; however, the idea was materialized only recently – on March 31. The main person responsible with this move is Dr. Roni Zeiger, who is the company’s chief health strategist. However, Dr. Zeiger admitted that the idea was not his; instead, it came from a similar action of the search engine to show a phone number (of the national poison control hotline) every time a person searched for “poison emergency”. This idea, in turn, was formed by a user of Google.

However, nobody is certain on how effective the change is going to be. The uncertainty may be attributed to the limited ability of a search engine to know about the true intentions of the user. For instance, the search query must contain the word “suicide” or other forms of the same word.

The service is only limited to United States at this moment.


Bing Now Pull Links from Twitter

Bing is planning to incorporate Twitter updates with its search results. It is currently testing the idea with a select group of users of Bing. These users reported that they are getting Twitter messages along with the results from their search queries. This week, Bing formally announced about its plan to integrate Twitter into its search results. Bing has also shared some details on how it is going to work.

The function of the Twitter integration is actually two-fold. First of all, Bing will try to include “hot/trending” issues related to the search queries. In this case, the tweets received from Twitter will best serve the purpose. The tweets will also be clearly distinguished from normal search results since they would appear under the heading called “Social results about…”.

twitter-in-bing

Secondly, Bing will also try to keep its users updated with the most popular links using Twitter data to show you the most popular shared links for navigational queries. So if you’re looking for the most popular celebrity news on TMZ, Bing will show you which links people are sharing the most on Twitter.

bing search within sites

Bing will make the Twitter integration available to all users in the U.S. as soon as the test is over. Bing and Google are both trying to include Twitter – as much as they can – in their search results. For instance, Twitter “smart answers” – which show tweets from famous users of Twitter – are available on Bing. The site also offers a search interface (bing.com/twitter) that shows results from only Twitter. On the other hand, real-time “tweets” are shown every time a user sends a search query on Google.

The situation clearly demonstrates the fierce competition between Bing and Google, both of which are integrating Twitter to improve their real-time search results.


Bing Gains Search Market Share (Jan 2010)

Microsoft's Bing - Gains Search Marketing share in January 2010 Bing seems to continuously gain market share (a bit by bit) as the rest of the engines (especially Yahoo) sees a decline. Well, we all know how Microsoft’s Bing is gaining all these market share so easily. They are literally still spending millions on advertising to advertise their engine and go mainstream.

In the month of January, Bing’s share increased to 11.3%, up from 10.7% in December. That’s up from 8.5% a year ago.

  • Google (GOOG) fell to 65.4%, from 65.7% in December, but up from 63% a year ago.
  • Yahoo (YHOO) fell to 17%, from 17.3%. That’s down from 21% a year ago.
  • AOL (AOL) fell to 2.5%, from 2.6%.
  • Ask.com (IACI) gained market share up to 3.8%, from 3.7%.

It seems like if Bing continues to grow at this current rate, they might be able to go pass Yahoo in another year or so.

(Source: Silicon Alley Insider)


What Does Your Search Engine Say About You?

Wunderman recently did a study by surveying 17,000 people and found unqiue profiles and purchasing trends among partisans of the top-three web search providers – Google, Yahoo & Bing.

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According to the study, if you are a user of Bing, you’re probably an early adopter, but you also prefer to visit, shop and ultimately make purchases from Walmart when compared with other search-engine users. Google searchers, on the other hand, are customers of Target and Amazon, and Yahoo searchers have a strong preference for wireless service provider AT&T and Sprint.

Advertising Age reports:

The study, being released next week, was conducted by Wunderman (an agency partner of Microsoft), along with BrandAsset Consulting, Zaaz and Compete. It is intended to determine the profile of search-engine-brand loyalists and identify how search engines are changing consumer behavior and helping to build brands.

“It’s going to wake people up because it’s a new wrinkle,” said David Sable, vice chairman-chief operating officer, Wunderman. “What this means if you are managing a brand is that you need to know how consumers relate to Bing, Yahoo or Google and how that reflects on you.”

It is very interesting that the findings sort of indicate that the different search engine consumers has a different perception on the big brands and the search engines really influence their decisions that they make while they are on those sites. The study found different degrees of consumer engagement, from visiting to purchasing, based on the search engine used and the brands and vertical categories studied — automotive, travel, retail and wireless.

Below is a small summery of the findings:

  • Google users are more likely to book a flight online at JetBlue or make a reservation on Hotwire.
  • Google users tend to do research on a Lexus, while Bing users tend to like Toyota cars more.
  • AOL customers feel less intellectual than their peers and are usually 55 and older. They spend their money more responsibly, want to blend in to the crowd, feel like they’ve gotten a raw deal out of life, expect less from their future and, believe it or not, still use dial-up modems.
  • Bing users are middle-aged, highly educated tech-savvy individuals who consider themselves to be average and spend more than 10 hours a week online.
  • Googlers tend to be the average internet Joe. They are usually conventional people yet open to trying new things, believe in following rules and don’t consider themselves any smarter or less intelligent than the person next to them.
  • Yahoo users tend to be 55-plus, reserved and a less-independent group with little faith in imagination. They feel they have little control over their future and are skeptical and cautious of new or untried ideas.

Discussion on Techmeme


Yahoo Sponsored Search Improvements 2010

yahoo-search-marketingYahoo will be rolling out two new features for it’s sponsored search program, that will likely give advertisers more transparency & control over their accounts.

Network Distribution Feature: This will let you run ads on Yahoo! search pages, yahoo partners’ sites, or both. If you run your ads on yahoo’s entire network (search & partners), you can now set different bids. This is very similar to how Google Adwords bidding works, where you can choose different bid price for search & content network.

Import Campaign Data from Google Adwords: Since many advertisers are often existing users of Google Adwords, Yahoo is making it easier the Adwords users to bring in their campaign data & settings with them so that they can start at Yahoo more comfortably. Advertisers can import their files by simply clicking the “Import Campaigns” button. Yahoo strongly believes that the the ease of launching campaigns with existing data will encourage more advertisers to use Yahoo! Search Marketing.

Well I have to say that this is indeed a cool feature. Many advertisers doesn’t want to spend the extra time to go through all the steps of setting up an ad campaign. Once yahoo brings out this easy import feature, many adwords advertisers are likely to try out Yahoo’s network.

If you are interested to see how these features will work, check out the video below:


Google May Stop Web Search in China

google-china-search-logoAs you may have already heard by now, Google has recently wrote in their blog that they are going to take a new approach to serve their customers in China. This new approach is nothing but to be ‘open’ as google has always been in every other country (except for china) and stop all censorship for the chinese government.

So what made Google change their strategy in a huge market like China? Did the Chinese government stepped on their tail? Well yes, apparently it looks like Google is blaming (sort of) the Chinese government for being involved in a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” on their corporate infrastructure that occurred last month. The attack originated in China and resulted in the “theft of intellectual property from Google.”

Chief Legal Officer David Drummond cites in the blog post that recent attacks on the Gmail accounts of human rights activists in both China, the United States and Europe as driving the decision. “These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered—combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web—have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China,” he says. Drummond goes on to say that Google will no longer censor its search results in China and will therefore discuss with the Chinese government whether it can operate an “unfiltered search engine within the law.” That’s unlikely, and Drummond says “this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.”

Some key points to look into:

  • This attack was done to Google alone, but also 20 other large companies
  • The primary objective of this attack was to get the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
  • The attack also focused on U.S., China and Europe-based Gmail accounts that supported human rights in China.
  • Google is way public about this attack and its reaction to them. This isn’t very google-like.
  • Google says it won’t continue to censor search results and may just shut down operations in China. This is like saying I don’t want that $600 million dollars!

In the end Google writes:

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

On the other hand, China’s biggest search engine (Baidu) was hacked this morning by the the same Iranian Cyber Army that hacked twitter before. According to Barry Schwartz of SEL, the site was down for about four hours and also has a screenshot of the page.

Update:

I just noticed that google is also showing this add when you search for Google china and related terms:

google-ad-china-issue

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9 Tips to Make the Most of Google Search

This article was originally written by me for a newsletter that is mostly consumed by non-techie business audience. You may know most of the search techniques that are described in this article. I have not been able to cover everything due to word limitation. If I have missed something interesting, do share it in comments section.

Often times we are searching on the web for various things and we get frustrated when we don’t get to our intended result fast. We switch our default search engine from Google to Yahoo and then Yahoo to Bing but the end result stays the same. Most of the search engines that exists today gives you near identical results and they are all equally good (Ok, maybe Google is a little better…), but other than the difference in Look n’ feel and speed, all the major engines follow the same underlying architecture that indexes the world wide web so that you can find everything at your fingertips.

Everyone knows how to search the web, its simple – we type in a word or a phrase and we get the result. But I’m going to share some of my personal web search tips for Google that gets me results much faster!

Write your search phrase naturally

Most of the search engines today can process natural language better than you think. So when you are searching for a direct answer, you should type in the question as it comes to your mind. E.g. What is the Capital of Netherlands? or What is the distance between earth and moon?

capital of netherlands google search

Search for Information from a Specific Site

Sometimes we want to get a piece of information out from a specific site quickly without visiting numerous doorway pages to do so. The operator “site:” works really well on those cases. By defining a “site:domain.com” at the end of your search phrase, you are telling Google to look for the information exactly on that particular website and nowhere else. For example, If you are looking for the 1-800 number of DHL simply search for – 1-800 site:dhl.com and it will directly show you the number in your search results page.

1-800 dhl google search

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Google Bites on 72% of US Search Market

Hitwise has recently released the search market share report for United States. It looks like Google had a pretty steady month with 1% increase in market share, making them number 1 again with almost 72% overall US search market share in November 2009.

Yahoo and bing’s share fell by 7% overall where as ASK’s market share increased by 1 percent.

The Big Question

So now the question is, if that 7% of Yahoo & Bing didn’t go to Google (since their market share was steady from Oct to November) where else could they possibly go?

Is it possible that the whole traditional search economy is sort of breaking and people are moving towards ‘social search’? For instance, previously when someone had a question they would search in Google but now they just send a tweet and within minutes they get 20 real people answering that question rather than a robot (‘crawler’) trying to return relevant pages that may or may not have your answer!

What do you say?

Here is the complete Hitwise Chart of growth/decline of search share for all major four search engines:

Search-Market-Share


Google Goggles

google-gogglesGoogle has just launched a new application for Google’s Android based mobile phones that will allow people to search for more information by simply pointing their mobile camera to the object and taking a photo using the Google Goggles App.

Google Goggles has been developed to recognize popular tourist attractions, famous paintings and even company logos. Once a User focus their phone’s camera on an object, Google automatically compares certain elements of that picture against its vast database of images. When Google finds a match, it straightaway shows the name and also provides a list of results linking through to the relevant web pages and news stories.

How Does Google Goggles Work?

So How does it work? Well, if you have Google Goggles installed on your android phone just open the app, snap a photo and voilà! Google will process the image and return your search results. This whole new photo search functionality totally eliminates the need to type or say anything on your mobile device, and it adds context to your real-world surroundings. Makes perfect sense!

For First timers, simple ho to Android market from your phone and search for “Google Goggles” and you will find the app!

Check out this video to see what else you can do with Google Goggles!

Thats not all. Google is also able pinpoint your location using your phone’s GPS functionality and digital compass built in to many of the phones that run Google’s Android operating system. Google says it can already has tens of millions of objects and places in the google image database for comparison.

“Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words,” said Shailesh Nalawadi, product manager for Google Goggles. “For many search queries, using an image to search is easier and more useful than text alone, especially on a mobile phone. Computer vision technology is still in its infancy, but Goggles demonstrates its potential.”We are hard at work extending our recognition capabilities. You can imagine a future where visual searching is as natural as pointing your finger.”

To Learn More about Google Goggles, please head over to – http://www.google.com/mobile/goggles/


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