internet librarian 05: 30 search tips in 40 minutes


Mary Ellen Bates' annual search tips talk. This was a great talk two years ago, and I've been looking forward to this year's version. I just hope I can keep up!

  1. Mine the Creative Commons for images, audio, web site tools ( is a hierarchical catalog; is the CC search tool; Yahoo CC search is more comprehensive [])
  2. Use MyYahoo's MyWeb 2.0 feature to search "my and my friends' sites" [Argh! Another one of my topics for tomorrow!] She focuses on the "search my sites" rather than the "search my community," though, so she leaves me a nice window.
  3. See also AskJeeve's, which allows you to click "save" on the search results page for the items you want. Allows you to create an "annotated webliography" (great term!)
  4. Google's Personalized Search; searches pages you've visited before. You can turn search history on and off at (Calls this and the previous two "the rise of the truly customized electronic ready-reference shelf.)
  5. Start searching podcasts -- includes tags; searches a voice-recognition transcript;; (Podcasts are more important now that "professional" content producers have regular podcasts--news, analysis, etc. Some content is only in audio form.)
  6. Furl It (I suspect she selects this rather than because it archives the full text of the page--which is a really nice aspect.) Mentions this is great for training, because it can sidestep firewalls. While she was talking, I found this nice piece on the copyright issues on Furl.
  7. See how others search web--browse, and see search strategies at the end of the answers. You can learn from their approaches.
  8. Consider Wikipedia (hits standard talking points; not a bad overview considering the time crunch; the fact that it's even being included in this talk is evidence of how much this conference has changed in 2 years)
  9. Use "squishy Boolean"; it's a relevance ranking. Dialog's TARGET command (target hybrid green clean car? ? automobile?); LexisNexis' SmartIndexing relevance threshold ( subject(cybercrime 9*%) ). She has an article in the March/April 2005 Online magazine on this.
  10. Use blogs to search hidden web content. A site may not be spidered by a search engine, but someone may well find and blog it. Use BlogDigger, BlogLines,, to find things indirectly--you're leveraging the blog experts's ability to find obscure content. (No time to dig up URLs...)
  11. Try a new search engine once a month. helps--it's a toolbar that that lets you pick from a wide range of search engines. Also NeedleSearch, for Firefox, and "Super Search" Konfabulator widget.
  12. Yahoo's Mindset feature (I don't care for this because it assumes everything fits on a research/shopping slider, but I do see the value in being able to reduce ecommerce sites in search results)
  13. Watch for video-search capabilities.,,, etc
  14. Use search engine "hybrids" - (science related web sites and fee-based services), Yahoo's search subscriptions (get bibliographic info on subscription-protected material),, (search library catalogs around the world).
  15. Use BlogPulse's Trend Search to track blog buzz over time, and see the relative poularity of terms in blogs.
  16. Search for words likely to be mentioned on a web site (looking for information infertility drugs, she searched for the names of three different drugs from different manufacturers--this helped eliminate company web sites)
  17. What works best for the professional online services doesn't work well with web searching. Complex searches don't work on the web. Order of search terms matters in a web search. Forget precision and go for what will likely float to the top.
  18. Compare search engines. Dogpile study found 85% of results of the first page of search results to be UNIQUE []. See (shows which pieces are unique to each service) and [eeek! missed it the next one, but it does side by side google and yahoo...which I though was a violation of Google's ToS]
  19. Check out new-ish search engine with great advanced search features. Supports proximity search, phonetic, and "approximate spelling"
  20. Collect examples of site spoofingk for those "a-ha" moments in educating your clients. vs; vs (which one is the anti-WTO site?); dhmo.
  21. Watch for new applications of Google Map images. For example, (she attributes this to Craigslist, not realizing that it's a mashup between the two sites, not a craigslist feature); traffic (
  22. Check out newer data visualization tools. has a demo showing data viz for Yahoo searching. This is a big change for librarians, who are used to text results.
  23. Other visualizations -- shows the treemap version of Google News.
  24. Use to find specialized portals and directories. Intended for web managers to find places to get linked, but it's valuable as a list of specialized sources.
  25. Y!Q from Yahoo Contextual searching--lets you highlight text on the page to refine your search. Can search from any web page. Requires IE toolbar or plug-in for best performance.
  26. Yahoo's Site Explorer: Lets you search pages within a domain or subdomain. Can also generate a list of all outgoing links from a web page.
  27. Consider Amazon's SIP's and CAPS; great way to brainstorm search terms from a book on a topic. Also their new Text Stats for a book ("Fog Index, average syllables per word, words per dollar and per ounce)
  28. Use phrase search to find specialized directories of information. Google and Yahoo syntax: intitle:"directory of" {subject word}
  29. Try Konfabulator widgets (yet another Yahoo property...). Includes a number of search widgets, but she talks about a wider range)
  30. Her favorite way to kill time when customer "service" puts me on hold:, or buy a self-contained version from This kind of machine-learning will start to inform search tools.


Thanks for the detailed info.

Regarding #18, Google & Yahoo! side-by-side, it could've been this page:
It's not coming up, but here's a Japanese version:
Here's another one with a similar idea:

Actually, was rebranded as

See also
for a Google-Yahoo side-by-side.

I don't know if I can ask a question here, but I bet I'm not the only one with this question!
When I do searches, and I get a bunch of pages of results (say, 452 pages), is there a shortcut for moving from one page to the next page without having to move over to the next page arrow or select the next page number manually? I've tried "tab", every Arrow key, "page up" "page down", etc.. Obviously it is easiest when I have the option to "view all" (I think Spiegel offers this" but at Amazon I sometimes get so many results, and I have such a broad category (but will know it when I see it) that I just want to breeze through it...HELP!
-Beryl (user)

Thanks for the tips.

In this day and age, I tend to use Bing more and more. Maybe big G is losing a little market share!

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This page contains a single entry published on October 24, 2005 12:05 PM.

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