Why Google isn't always the answer…
Editorial assistant Florence Massey shines some light on internet searching beyond Google…
It’s quick, easy and has become the go-to research tool for anyone with an internet connection. But while it's undeniably useful, Google isn't always the answer when it comes to building a balanced and accurate view on a subject.
Last month I attended Colin Meek’s Advanced Research Skills Course to gain an understanding about just how valuable an internet search can be when you use the right tools. Here are some of the ways you can make the most of your search:
What do you want?
In order to filter and sort results, you need to decide exactly what you're looking for. Research the best tools for your search before you start in order to make your results relevant. Is it blogs? Forums? Try IceRocket, Blogger, Feedster and BoardReader for more specific searching.
Don’t put all your eggs in Google’s basket
Search engines such as Bing, AltaVista and Yahoo! are useful too. Despite Google’s dominance, using extra search engines can add depth and insight to a research topic. Each one uses a different algorithm, therefore each picks up on a different set of websites. This is illustrated on Thumbshots, which compares search engine results. By conducting multiple searches, you can be sure you've explored all your options.
If you Google, get more with advanced search
Google has an array of added search terms that make looking for something much easier. Its site-specific search tool, for example, is far more accurate than most built-in website search bars. Whereas Facebook’s search bar is frustratingly unhelpful, a site-specific Google search using 'site:facebook.com' and 'kittens in hats' yields far more results.
Add more with Twitter
Pinpointing key influencers and quickly identifying new trends is key to social media strategy. Twitter serves up both influencers and trends, but does so on an overflowing and constantly refreshing plate of information. You can beat this. Use search.twitter.com as a starting point, and push your search further with advanced terms. For example, 'near:London kittens –hats :)' will produce all London tweets mentioning kittens, but not hats, with a positive attitude.
Work with sites such as Trendsmap, Topsy and Twazzup to identify broader trends, and turn to customised tools such as Twiangulate to drill down to the key influencers.
Know when to stop
Sometimes the answer you want simply isn’t there. Don’t waste valuable time exhausting search terms; use the lack of information available as an extra insight.
Adding value to a standard search, these insights are intended as a starting point for digging deeper and filtering more effectively. Sourcing the information that will help you the most, they will remove irrelevant results and save you time.