Category Archives: UKeiG

Advanced Google workshop – change of venue

The advanced Google workshop that I am running for UKeiG (How to make Google behave) has a new venue. It is still being held in Manchester but will now be in the 4th Floor Teaching Suite, Main Library, University of Manchester M13 9PP. The date remains unchanged (April 30th, 2013).

We shall be looking at what goes on “underneath the bonnet” and covering Google’s advanced commands and search options in detail. We’ll also be reviewing Google’s specialist tools including the Public Data Explorer, Scholar and many more. As usual with my workshops there will be time allocated for practical sessions so that you can try out the techniques for yourself. Further details and booking information are available on the UKeiG website at

Top search tips from UKeiG Google workshop

UKeiG organised a workshop on Google, which was held on 8th February 2012 and hosted by Birimngham University. (My slides for the day can be found on authorSTREAM and on Slideshare). Twenty-two people from a variety of backgrounds and sectors attended the event and their combined Top 10 Tips are listed below.

1. An understanding of how Google works and is messing up “improving” search is vital. Minor changes in functionality and ranking algorithms can cause havoc and are impossible to counter unless you know what is going on. Google’s various official blogs are a starting point but they don’t tell you everything. Identify and monitor blogs from searchers and organisations that monitor what Google and other search engines are up to. (A selection are listed on the final slide of the presentation).

2. “Google assumes that all searchers are stupid and don’t know how to search” said one workshop participant! It takes far too many decisions on their behalf: automatically corrects what it thinks are typographical errors, excludes and adds terms to the search without asking, changes results according to past searching behaviour, and gives priority to network connections. To bring Google to heel, learn how to use advanced search commands and the options available in the menus on the left hand side of the results pages.

3. If you have a Google account investigate your Dashboard ( This contains all of the information you have given Google about yourself plus data that Google has collected from your various accounts such as Gmail and Google Reader. Clear out anything you don’t need or use (you won’t be able to do this for everything) and make sure you are not sharing anything that you want kept private, for example docs and maps.

4. Order matters. Changing the order in which you type in your search terms will change the order of your results. The pages that contain the terms in the order you specified in your search are usually given a higher weighting. Also keep an eye on any oddities when combining advanced search commands. For example the search allintitle:diabetic retinopathy comes up with sensible results. Switch the order to allintitle:diabetic retinopathy and Google totally loses the plot.

Site and Allintitle commands combined in the wrong order


5. Be aware that Google no longer searches for all of your terms all of the time. It now does what it calls a ‘soft AND’. See the first comment to my blog posting on this issue at If you want all of your terms to appear in your documents exactly as you typed them in then you have to use….

6. Verbatim. This tells Google to carry out an exact match search. Run your search as normal and then use Verbatim in the menu on the left hand side of your results page. It is normally hidden from view so click on ‘More search tools’ at the bottom of the menu and Verbatim is right at the bottom. It appears that you can use advanced search commands such as filetype:, site:, and the tilde (~) with Verbatim but it cannot be combined with the date options or ‘Pages from the UK’ in the results page menus.

7. Public Data Explorer is one of Google’s many well kept secrets. It can be found at and allows you to search data sets from organisations such as the IMF, OECD and World Bank. You can compare the data in various ways and there are several chart options.

8. Google has a habit of hiding and moving links to resources and tools such as the Public data Explorer, Advanced Search and Language Tools. Bookmark them so that you can always find them (unless, of course, Google decides to remove them altogether).

9. Three tools that are intended for people maintaining websites can also be useful to searchers in identifying trends, alternative search terms, and research into key players and competitors in a sector.

Google Trends – can be used to view search trends over time and to compare multiple search terms

Google Trends for Websites – looks at search trends for individual websites or you can compare several websites. In addition it shows what people  ‘Also visited’ and ‘Also searched for’.

Google Insights for Search – advanced options for identifying search trends including countries and categories.

If you are responsible for content on your web pages these tools can help identify terms that could increase traffic to your site.

10. If you have had enough of Google and do not feel secure with the way it monitors your activity and personalises results try DuckDuckGo ( as an alternative. DDG does not track, filter or personalise and several people found some of the results to be better than Google’s. Many of the workshop participants had tried Bing but there was little enthusiasm for it. They had found that the results were not as relevant as Google’s and there was concern over Bing’s links with Facebook, personalisation and what it calls “adaptive search”. Google is so often considered the bad guy because of the amount of personal information it gathers but it does at least show users a lot of what has been collected about them. The same cannot be said for Bing.


Business Information Workshops – September

There is a lot happening in the UK business information sector at the moment. From two of my earlier postings on company information you will probably have gathered that competition between the providers is hotting up. And if you need statistics then the open data initiatives provide direct access to raw data – possibly.

If you are interested in business information and want to get up to speed with current developments I am running a UKeiG workshop on the topic on Thursday, 8th  September. It is being held in Bristol at the Frenchay Campus of the University of the West of England. Further details are on the UKeiG web site at The emphasis will be on free and pay per view services. Please note that you do not have to be a member of UKeiG to attend, and the workshop will be relevant to all types of organisations.

If you are new to business information I am also running a workshop entitled “Introduction to Business Research” for TFPL on 15th September in London (


Google workshop (Newcastle, March)

I am running a workshop “All about  Google” for UKeiG in Newcastle on March 31st. Details and booking forms are available on the UKeiG web site at

I wrote the title and description a few months ago before Google really started going to town with messing up search results, so the subtitle “regain control of search” now seems a tad over-optimistic! Readers of this blog and Phil Bradley’s  ( will know what I mean. Just search on Google in both for recent news and comments on what Google is currently up to.  Nevertheless, I will be going through the key search features, types of search, and recent developments in Google search – there will probably be even more changes by the end of March – and there will be plenty of time for you to try out ‘stuff’ for yourselves.

A reminder that I also run in-house workshops so if you have several members of staff you would like trained, let me know. I can come to you.

Top search tips – 14th July 2010 workshop

An interesting mix of sectors were represented at my recent UKeiG workshop “The Changing Landscape of search”. With social media becoming such an important part of search, there was a lot to cover in just one day and still include time for delegates to try out search tools for themselves. At the end of these workshops I ask the group to come up with their own top 10 tips. On this occasion we ended up with 13 and then a few people emailed me some more, thereby doubling the number to 20! The list is a combination of simple tried and tested techniques, new services and tools, and new strategies for dealing with the vast amount of information that is returned by the search engines.

  1. Set up your own Google custom search engine ( for groups of sites that you regularly search and use. It is quick and easy to do, and you can keep them private or make them public.
  2. Docjax ( for searching Google and Yahoo for file formats ppt, doc, xls, pdf
  3. Use Twitter ( to keep up with what people are saying about your organisation or industry, and to find out what is happening at conferences.
  4. Nearby Tweets ( for monitoring tweets on a subject and from a geographical location
  5. Save tweets and Twitter searches if you are using Twitter for competitive intelligence or reputation monitoring/management.
  6. Try out the the Google Wonderwheel to see connections between concepts and to change the direction of your search. Run your search, open up the options in the menu to the left of your search and click on Wonderwheel. This had mixed reviews from the workshop participants and even its fans said that it does not always help with the search. Nevertheless, worth trying if you are stuck in a rut and fed up with seeing the same results again and again.
  7. In Google  use the menu options to the left of your search results to help you focus your search and for more relevant results.
  8. Separate real time and “traditional” web search. Google, Bing and Yahoo incorporate real time and social media results into the main search results. These results are not comprehensive and give a superficial, biassed view of the topic. Use the specialised real time search tools for searching social media.
  9. Slidefinder ( for locating individual presentation slides that contain your search terms. There is an Advanced Search that enables you to search specific areas of a slide, for example title, text, notes. You can also limit your search to a university. There are browsable lists at the bottom of the page but they do not list every institution: there are only 47 for the UK!
  10. View the cached page version of a document in your search results to see where and how often your terms occur. Useful for very large documents.
  11. Biznar ( Real time federated search tool covering selected business sites, some of which are not searched by Google et al.
  12. Google Timeline to see the distribution of pages and documents over time. Remember, though, that the dates are not always when the content was published. A date or year might just have been mentioned in the text or Google mistakenly interpreted a number as a date.
  13. Use  double quotes “” around phrases to find specific names or titles. This one is a golden oldie but one that is often forgotten. Works in nearly every search tool.
  14. Try alternative names or change a single term to expand your search results, for example BP oil spill vs. BP oil leak. See what the search engine suggests as you type in your strategy and in Google look at  the Related Searches option in the menu to the left of your search results.
  15. Add the year to your strategy when searching for somebody or something from a particular year. A simple, obvious trick but another one that is often forgotten. This will only look for the number in the text and does not run a date search, but it does significantly narrow down your search.
  16. Try using non-UK and non-US versions of Google, for example or if the information is likely to be in Spanish.
  17. When using Google, click on ‘similar’ to find related information and sites similar in content and type.
  18. Bing for images. No need to keep clicking the next page for more images, just keep scrolling down. Some also commented that the quality of the results and the layout are better than Google.
  19. For video archives try BBC Motion Gallery – BBC Archive at and NewsFilm Online at
  20. Social Mention ( Great for monitoring mentions in the social media about a person, company or topic.

The slides for the day can be found on Slideshare at

UKeiG Top Search Tips

UKeiG held yet another ‘Google and Beyond’ workshop on November 6th 2007, this time in London. As usual, the participants were asked to come up with a list of their Top Search Tips. Here it is!

  1. Graball
    Search two different search engines side by side and compare results.
  2. Use ‘site search’ to search within a specific, individual site or to a particular type of site e.g. UK government sites. Especially useful for sites that have poor navigation or awful internal search engines. Use the site: command, for example or use the Advanced Search screens of the search engines.
  3. Use file format search to limit your search to one or more file formats, for example PDF, PPT, XLS. A good way of focusing your search: many government and industry/market reports are published as PDFs, statistics in spreadsheet format, and PowerPoints are a good way of tracking down experts on a subject. Use the Advanced Search screens or the filetype: command, for example filetype:ppt
  4. Intelways Type in your search once and then run it through individual search engines one by one. The search engines are grouped together by type, for example Image, News, Reference. A useful reminder of what else is out there other than Google and that perhaps you should be thinking of searching different types of information.
  5. Numeric Range Search. Available only in Google and searches for numbers within a specified range. The syntax is 1st number..2nd number. For example:TV advertising forecasts 2008..2015


    toblerone 1..5 kg

  6. Alacrawiki Spotlights Extremely useful in providing reviews and commentary on industry specific web sites that have statistics, market research and news. Invaluable if you need to get up to speed on key resources in a sector or industry.
  7. Panoramio. Now owned by Google. A geolocation-oriented photo sharing service with uploaded photos presented as a mashup with Google Earth.
  8. Wayback Machine – For tracking down copies of pages or documents that have disappeared from the original web site. Type in the address of the web site or the full URL of the document, if you know it. Note: this is not guaranteed but worth a try for older documents that are unlikely to be in the search engine caches.
  9. Google Book Search . Useful for searching within books that Google has been allowed to scan, and in particular older text books.
  10. Use anything but Google! For example – in alphabetical order –,,, For a day, try out other search tools to see if you can survive without Google. You may go back to Google as your first port of call but at least you will have discovered the strengths and key features of the alternatives.
  11. For current news try Google News and its alert service (it’s free!). And don’t forget blogs, for example Google Blogsearch, Ask- Blogs, Blogpulse, Technorati.
  12. Blogpulse trends. Click on the graph icon on the results page to see how often your search terms have been mentioned in blog postings over time. Used by many of us who monitor competitor or industry intelligence to see what are hot topics and when. Many of the ‘peaks’ will tie in with press announcements: it is those that don’t that are really interesting. Click on the peaks in the graph to see the postings.

    UKeiG – Desktop Tools

    UKeiG (UK eInformation Group) is running a one day event on desktop search entitled “Desktop Tools – managing the flight deck”.

    Date: 14th June 2006

    Venue: Bloomsbury Suite, Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

    Whether we like it or not, desktop search will be landing on our PCs in the very near future. It will play a central role in Microsoft’s new operating system, Vista, and will enable users to quickly locate files and search the content of documents stored on their computers. The other major players in the search market have already entered the fray with their own versions of desktop search, the serious contenders being Google, Yahoo, Ask, Copernic, Exalead, Blinkx and ISYS.

    It is essential that we understand and are aware of what is happening in this area. It is no longer just about web search with an option to install and use desktop search for those of us who are geekishly inclined. The two will become inextricably entwined and we need to know who is doing what and understand the implications for both our users and ourselves.

    The programme includes speakers from Copernic, Microsoft and ISYS, and I will be presenting the users point of view with a session on “Desktop search tools compared: the good, the bad and the ugly”.

    The event costs £80 + VAT (total £94.00) for UKeiG members, and £100 + VAT (total £117.50) for non-members. Further information can be found on the UKeiG web site and on their blog.

    Electronic Information Risk Management – UKeiG training course

    If you are involved in email management, database management, 0r collection and storage of e-information in any form, the UKeiG one day training course Electronic Information Risk Management being held on 16th May may of interest to you.

    Every organisation is now required to ensure that the use of electronic information and e-systems comply with legal, regulatory and best practice requirements. This training course will provide a sound understanding of electronic information risks and how to manage them. It will be a combination of presentations, group tasks, discussions of best practice and practical problem solving sessions. A practical case study will be used to highlight typical areas of e-information risks.

    Topics to be covered include:

    • e-mail Management
    • Collection and Storage of E-Information
    • Metadata
    • Protection of Personal Information
    • e-Database Management
    • e-Information Incident Handling
    • e-Information Access Management
    • Retention and Disposal of e-Information

    The course presenter is Dr Rita Esen, a Cyber Law Consultant.

    The course is being held at CILIP in London and costs (including lunch and refreshments) are
    UKeiG members £130 + VAT (£152.75), others £160 + VAT (£188.00)

    Further details and a booking form are on on the UKeiG web site.

    Top 10 Search Tips

    At the end of every advanced search workshop that we run, the delegates vote on their 10 top search tips. The latest course was run for UKeiG (UK eInformation Group) on Friday, October 28th and was held at CILIP in London. A summary of the tips is given below but a more detailed explanation will appear in the UKeiG members newsletter eLucidate, and in the members area on the UKeiG web site.

    1. Use domain/site search to limit by type of site and to search individual sites that are difficult to navigate.

    2. for a quick way to run your search in different search tools one by one.

    3. Use Yahoo for complex nested Boolean searches.

    4. Think about the format that the information might be in and use the filetype options to narrow down your search.

    5. “Disappearing” pages: use the search engines’ cached pages for recently disappeared pages or the Wayback Machine for older pages and sites.

    6. Use the Google numeric range when searching for ranges of prices, distances, weights, temperatures, years etc.

    7. Don’t give up! If your favourite search engine is not working, try another one or a different type of resource.

    8. Graball for comparing the results from 2 search engines side by side.

    9. Copernic Desktop for desktop search.

    10. Yahoo Mindset to adjust the ranking of results (“shopping” versus “research”)