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Use a search engine to search
• “Crib sheet”
• “Cheat sheet”
• “Advanced search”
• “Search functionality”
• “Advanced features”
• “Search operators”
• “Search criteria”
• Don’t forget images and .pdf files either!
• Term A Term B
• “Term A Term B”
• Term A Term B OR Term C
• (Term A Term B) OR Term C
• Term A AND (Term B or Term C)
• What other Boolean operators work?
• Of special interest is NEAR
• File type searches?
• Site, country or region based search
• Re-arrange results by date or relevance
• Can you search for symbols such as ‘@’ or ‘#’?
• Related options
• What specialist search options do they provide you with?
Search result settings
• Number of results displayed on the screen
• Adult filter
• Country or region
• Auto-load results when scrolling, or auto suggest terms
• Keyboard shortcuts
• Are searches private to you, or are they shared with the search
engine, stored and used in the future?
• What’s the advantage of less privacy, and why you might want
Set a benchmark
• Choose your preferred search engine and run a search in an area
that you’re familiar with, and note the top results.
• Specifically note the position of what you consider to be the ‘best’
results, however you define them.
• Run the same search on the new search engine and compare
• Where does it pull its results from?
• How does it get its material?
Fox red labrador
• 18 different sites listed
• 2 of them found by all three engines
• 1,2,2 and 2,3,1
• 5 found by two of the three engines
• 11 found by one of the three engines
How are results relevance ranked? (1)
• On page and off page
• The position of words
• Next/near to each other
• On the web page
• Exact terms and/or related terms (fuzzy logic)
• Rare and unusual terms V more common terms
• How quickly the page loads
• URL structures, site maps, unbroken links
How are results relevance ranked? (2)
• Off page
• How many links point back to the page in question?
• What is the authority of the linking page?
• The use of anchor terms to link to the page listed in the results
• Age of the website URL
• Viewed on multiple devices
How and when are algorithmic changes
• Google employs hundreds of quality evaluation raters
• Individual sites and searches can be checked
• Are the results that move up or down in accordance with the views of the
• Live experiments to see if new changes mean more clicks
• A short Matt Cutts video explains in more detail at:
Difficulties in evaluating search results
• Trying to work out what the users ‘intent’ was for the query
• Eg. ‘Olympics’
Authority and validity of the results
• “Martin Luther King” ‘A true historical examination’
• 9th in Google
• 70th in Bing
• 6th in Yandex
• Cure for cancer 1st results
• Cancertutor.com in Google
• Express Newspaper in Bing
• The truth about cancer in Yandex (book website)