Another workshop – another Top 10 Search Tips

The participants at the latest advanced search workshop were all from the public sector and had very strong views on some of the new developments in search. They were definitely not impressed by Google automatically enabling web history with a view to “personalizing” search results. (See Your Google results are about to get weirder (The workshop participants  are switching off Web History as soon as they get back to the office!) There were several sites and search features, though, that did impress them. This is their list of Top 10 Search Tips.

1. The Google Wonderwheel was the clear winner of the day with this group. When your results page appear on screen, click on “Show options” just above the results and to the left of the screen. Then select Wonderwheel from the list on the left of the page. (For further details see Google new search and display options

2. Google’s Timeline was a close second in the popularity stakes. This is also under Show options in Google when you do a default web search and is also available in Google News. It shows the distribution of your articles over time and gives you an idea of when something started to become a “hot topic” and how a story has developed over time. It is not 100% accurate but is good enough to give you an overall picture of how interest in a subject has waxed and waned.

3. LGSearch They liked this one a lot! This a Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) set up by Dave Briggs ( that searches UK public sector web sites in one go. On the results page you can, if you wish, narrow down your search further to Local Government, Central Government, Health, Police & Fire, LG Related or Social Media.

4. Slideshare A site used by many people and organisations to provide access to PowerPoint presentations. Search for presentations on any topic or by a specific person then view online or download the original if the author permits. Once you have selected a relevant presentation Slideshare also shows you a list of other presentations containing similar content. No registration required if you just want to search.

5. Try something else other than Google. As well as giving Yahoo or Bing a go, try and think about the type of information you are looking for: news, video, statistics, what people are talking about. Then use the appropriate search tool for that type of information.

6. Twitter search You may not want to indulge in Twitter yourself but it can give you an idea of what people are saying about a topic. It is also an essential part of reputation monitoring and competitive intelligence: what are people saying about you or your products and services? You do not have to have a Twitter account to search Twitter, just go to

7. Google Blogsearch ( and Blogpulse ( Blogs are another useful source of views and opinions on every topic imaginable. Blogpulse has a “trend this” option on the results page that displays a graph showing you how many blog posts mention your search terms over time.

8. ( for quick and easy access to a wide range of search tools covering different types of information. Enter your search once, click on the tab for the type of resource (video, images, reference, news), and then work your way through the list of search engines.

9. Google Custom Search Engines (CSE). We looked at several Google CSEs, and Directionlessgov ( being just two of them. You can, though, set up your own CSE at Useful if you search the same web sites day after day. You will need a Google account or Gmail account to set up a CSE but you can host your CSE on your own web site or on Google. CSEs can be made public or kept private.

10. University of Auckland Official Statistics (OFFSTATS) This set of web pages provides information on Official Statistics on the Web and is an excellent starting point for official statistics by country and subject/industry.

2 thoughts on “Another workshop – another Top 10 Search Tips”

  1. Nice round up – I picked up some things I didn’t notice before (how could I have missed the wonder wheel?) :o)

    It’s always nice to have a visual representation of data as an alternative to a bunch of links. When I was involved in developing the website I currently work for (, someone came up with the idea of an interactive global map to represent different national patent search sources (it’s now available at I have to admit I enjoy it for its visual/interactive component as much as I enjoy getting at the needed information.

    I just found out about Google CSE’s fairly recently as well – I’m planning to use one to develop a “digital library” of my own (for a personal project this time). Any bumps in the road when using it that you know of?

  2. Hi Kristin,

    Thanks for the comments and feedback.

    The whole “Show options” thing is so discreet that I wonder at anyone finding any of the additional search features. For several days after its launch I thought it was another route to preferences such as language! The wonderwheel works brilliantly for some people and not at all for others. I think it depends on they type of searches one carries out and the way one thinks and visualises results. I do find it useful for following related concepts or alternative aspects of the search.

    As for Google CSEs, I use them on some of the pages in the Business Resources section of my web site. The main “gotchas” are that the site/pages have to be covered by Google in the first place, the pages must not be password protected, and you cannot include database searches – that is sources where you have to fill in a form to get to the information.

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