Online Information 2010: Strategies for cost effective searching

Search experts share tips, tricks and techniques

Three search experts came together to share insights, tips and techniques for getting the most out of popular search engines, as well as to introduce the audience to less well known search tools.  The session demonstrated that even information professionals can find it difficult to keep up to date with the constantly changing features and functionality of search engines.

Karen Blakeman reminded us that it the aim of search engines to keep us on their pages, clicking away!  At the same time, they are constantly gathering information about our online behaviour and making inferences about us.  By clicking on, Karen showed us what Google ‘knows' about her.

According to Google, Karen's search interests imply that she is a man.

Karen also showed us that some ‘new' features are not that new - Yahoo was providing a service not dissimilar to Google Buzz in 2005 for example - ‘All the web'.    Karen gave the audience a tour of the search option features on the left hand side of the Google search page and described how and when they should be used.   She is also currently using Blekko which enables her to create customised search engines but acknowledged, in a comment that echoed  Brian Kelly's talk earlier in the day, that there will always be a fear about whether some tools will be here today, gone tomorrow.

Mary Ellen Bates spoke about some of the Google features she is using - in particular the location features.  She then demonstrated how searching within a country domain (Google NZ) for example, can filter and affect search results. 

She agrees that the left hand margin of Google is where exciting stuff is happening.  By limiting her searches In Google to the last year she finds that this filters out old news pages for example and this is particularly helpful.  You can also filter out pages that you have already visited, and this is an excellent resource if you are providing a regular report for a client to ensure you don't give them what they have already had.

She also highlighted the usefulness of searching on ‘discussions' only.  This is great for helping her solve her own IT problems, because there is always someone in a forum somewhere who has encountered, and answered the same problem!

Marydee Ojala shared some tips about helpful search tools she has encountered.  Silobreaker is an excellent analytical tool with its roots in military intelligence, with some interesting features inclucing network searchin and the fcat that it also searches academic research.

All three speakers are at the forefront of search excellence. Follow them on Twitter, keep an eye on their blogs and other webpages and search for their presentations on  SlideShare.