Tag Archives: workshop

NetIKX seminar: Digital native or digital immigrant – does it matter?

I am giving a talk at the first NetIKX seminar of 2013 on January 28th. The subject is “Digital native or digital immigrant – does it matter?” and looks at the issues we all face in a technology-driven world. My part of the seminar – Born digital: time for a rethink – questions the usefulness of the labels and suggests that it diverts attention away from the real issues. Graham Coult, Editor-in-Chief, Managing Information will be giving an overview of research that has been undertaken into research behaviours. Has any evidence of differences been found? What are the challenges people are facing in accessing information, what are the key factors which form these challenges and what are the implications for Information and Knowledge Management?

As usual with NetIKX events delegates will be invited to share their own experiences and observations and there will be syndicate sessions to discuss the issues in more depth.

This is a half day afternoon event held at the British Dental Association in London. Full details and booking information are at http://www.netikx.org/content/digital-native-or-digital-immigrant-28-January-2013.

Top tips for business information

Here are the Top Tips for business information compiled by the participants of my latest business information workshop held on November 15th, 2012 in London. The set of slides that was the starting point for the workshop can be found on authorSTREAM at http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/karenblakeman-1601945-business-information-key-web-resources/

  1. Zanran http://zanran.com/ A search tool for  identifying charts, graphs and tables of data within formatted documents such as PDFs, Excel spreadsheets and images. Enter your search terms and optionally limit your search by date and/or format type.  Zanran comes up with a list of  documents that match your criteria with thumbnails to the left of each entry. Hover over the thumbnail to see a preview of the page containing your data and further information on the document. Very useful if you are looking for industry statistics.


  1. University library subjects guides. If you are looking for some good starting points on a subject seek out some university library subject guides. These list resources that are only available to their own students and staff but may also include links to relevant publicly accessible resources that have been assessed for quality.
  2. Socialmention http://socialmention.com/ Several social media search tools were covered in the workshop but this one received a special mention as a good general all round social media tool. It covers images, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, audi0 and bookmarks. If you are monitoring a topic you can set up email and RSS alerts.
  3. Companies House http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/ The official registry for UK companies. Other services such as Company Check (http://companycheck.co.uk/) and DUEDIL (http://www.duedil.com/), which repackage Companies House data, may provide more information free of charge but it is always worth double checking with Companies House to see if there is more up to date information and to get a full of list of the documents that are available on a company. The history and list of documents that can be ordered for a company is informative in itself. On the Companies House web site use the Find Company Information to locate the company in the register and then click on “Order information for this company”. You will then see a list of available documents. Titles such as “Struck off and dissolved” and “Application for administrative restoration” would suggest that perhaps you ought to investigate further before doing business with the company.
  4. LinkedIn groups A couple of the workshop participants regularly use LinkedIn groups for research questions. Look for groups set up by professional and official bodies relevant to your subject.
  5. Twitter If you are looking for a professional, research or trade association that may be able to help with your research you only need to find just one organisation on Twitter covering your topic. Then, to find others that might be useful, see who that organisation is following.
  6. Millionshort http://millionshort.com/. If you are fed up with seeing the same results from Google again and again give Million Short a try.  Million Short runs your search and then removes the most popular web sites from the results. Originally, as its name suggests, it removed the top 1 million but the default has changed to the top 10,000. The principle remains the same, though.  Exclude the more popular sites and you could uncover a real gem. The page that best answers your question might not be well optimised for search engines or might cover a topic that is so “niche” that it never makes it into the top results.
  7. Biznar http://www.biznar.com/ Biznar is a federated search engine that runs your search in real-time in about 70 resources. There is a list on the Advanced Search screen where you can deselect individual or groups of resources. The results are combined into a single list and organised on the left hand side of the screen into folders such as Topics, Authors, Publications, Publishers and Dates. These are computer generated but can help you narrow down your search. A bit erratic at times and sometimes comes up with odd results but people still thought it was worth including in the Top Tips list.
  8. DUEDIL http://www.duedil.com/. This service repackages Companies House data and provides some of it free of charge. The feature that won DUEDIL a place in the Top Tops is the “Group” visualisation that illustrates the connections between the company you are researching, its parent companies and subsidiaries. You have to create an account (free at the moment) to access all of the information.


  1. SCoRe http://www.score.ac.uk A catalogue of current and historical printed company reports held in UK libraries. The catalogue does not provide links to digitised documents but is a very quick and easy way of identifying libraries that hold hard copy reports. The participating libraries include London Business School, the British Library, Manchester Business School, City Business Library, Guildhall Library, Strathclyde University and the University of Warwick. A full list is available at http://www.score.ac.uk/collections.asp.

Top search tips from North Wales

August is usually a quiet month for me with respect to work. Time for a holiday away and then a couple of weeks ambling along the Thames Path or pottering around the garden. This year, though, as soon as I was I back from my travels I was knuckling down and updating my notes for two search workshops in North Wales. Both were for the North Wales Library Partnership (NWLP), the first taking place at Coleg Menai in Bangor and the second at Deeside College. Both venues had excellent training facilities and IT, which meant we could concentrate on getting to grips with what Google is doing with search and experiment with different approaches to making Google do what we want it to do.

At the end of the workshops both groups were asked to come up with a list of  Top 10 Tips. I’ve combined the two lists and removed the duplicates to generate the list of 16 tips below.

  1. Repeat one or more of your search terms one or more times
    Fed up with seeing the same results for your search?  Repeat your main search term or terms to change the order of your results.
  2. Menus on left hand side of Google results pages
    Use the menus on the left hand side of the results page to focus your search and see extra search features. To see all of the options click on the ‘More’ and ‘More search tools’ links. The content of the menus changes with the type of search you are running, for example Image search has a colour option.
  3. Verbatim
    Google automatically looks for variations of your terms and no longer looks for all of your terms in a document. If you want Google to run your search exactly as you have typed it in, click on the ‘More search tools’ options at the bottom of the left hand menu on your results page and then on Verbatim at the bottom of the extended menu that appears.
  4. intext:
    Google’s automatic synonym search can be helpful in looking for alternative terms but if you want just one term to be included in your search exactly as you typed it in then prefix the word with intext:. For example carbon emissions buses intext:biofuels flintshire. The command sometimes has the effect of prioritizing pages where your term is the main focus of the article.
  5. Advanced search screen and search commands
    Use the options on the advanced search screen  or the search commands (for example filetype: and site:) in the standard search box to narrow down your search. A link to the advanced searchscreen can usually be found under the cog wheel in the  upper right hand area of the screen. If you can’t see a cog wheel or the link has disappeared from the menu go to http://www.google.co.uk/advanced_search. A list of the more useful Google commands is at http://www.rba.co.uk/search/SelectedGoogleCommands.shtml
  6. Try something different
    Get a fresh perspective by trying something different. Two most popular during these two workshops seemed to be DuckDuckGo (http://duckduckgo.com/) and Millionshort (http://millionshort.com). Other search engines to try include Bing (http://www.bing.com/) and Blekko (http://blekko.com/).
  7. Use the country versions of Google for information that is country specific
    This will ensure that the country’s local content will be given priority, although it might be in the local language. Useful for companies and people who are based in or especially active in a particular country, or to research holiday destinations. Use Google followed by the standard ISO two letter country code, for example http://www.google.de/ for Google Germany or http://www.google.no/ for Google Norway.
  8.  Filetype to search for document formats or types of information
    For example PowerPoint for experts or presentations, spreadsheets for data and statistics, or PDF for research papers and industry/government reports. Note that filetype:ppt will not pick up the newer .pptx so you will need to include both in your search, for example filetype:ppt OR filetype:pptx. You will also need to look for .xlsx if you are searching for Excel spreadsheets and .docx for Word documents. The Advanced Search screen file type box does not search for the newer Microsoft Office extensions.
  9. Clear cookies
    Even if you are logged out of your Google account when you search, information on your activity is stored in cookies on your computer. These can personalise your results according to your past search and browsing history. Many organisations have set up their IT systems so that these tracking cookies are automatically deleted at least once a day or whenever a person logs in or out of their computer account. At home, your anti-virus/firewall software may perform the same function. If you want to make sure that cookies are deleted or want to control them manually How to delete cookies at http://aboutcookies.org/Default.aspx?page=2 has instructions on how to do this for most browsers.
  10. Looking for research papers? Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/) is one place to look but there may be additional material hidden somewhere on an academic institution’s web site. Include advanced search commands, for example filetype:pdf site:ac.uk, in your search.
  11. For the latest news, comments and analysis on what is happening in an industry or research area carry out a  Google blog search and limit your search by date. Simply run your search as usual in the standard Google search box. On the results page click on Blogs in the menu on the left hand side of the screen and then select the appropriate time option.
  12. site: and -site:
    Use the site:command to search within a single site or type of site.For example:2011 carbon emissions public transport site:statistics.gov.uk to search just the UK official statistics web siteasthma prevalence wales site:gov.uk OR site:nhs.ukto search all UK government and NHS web sites

    If you are fed up with a site dominating your results use -site: to exclude it from your search.

    For example:

    Dylan Thomas -site:bbc.co.uk

  13. Reading level – from tourism to research
    Use this to option in the menus on the left had side of your results page to change the type of information. For example run a search on copper mines north wales. Then click on Reading Level in the left hand menus. Selecting “Basic” from the options that appear at the top of the results gives you pages on tourism and holiday attractions. “Advanced” gives you research papers, journal articles and mineral databases. Google does not give much away as to how it calculates the reading level and it has nothing to do with the reading age that publishers assign to books. It could involve sentence structure, grammar, the length of sentences on a web page, the length of the document, the terminology used and doubtless many other criteria.
  14. Google.com
    Apart from presenting your search results in a different order Google.com is where Google tries out new features. As well as seeing pages that may not be highly ranked in Google.co.uk you will get an idea of how Google search may look in the UK version in the future.
  15. Numeric range search
    Use this for anything to do with numbers – years, temperatures, weights, distances, prices etc. Use the boxes on the Advanced Search screen or just type in your two numbers separated by two full stops as part of your search.For example:world oil demand forecasts 2015..2030
  16. An understanding of copyright is important if you intend to re-use information found in the web and absolutely essential if you are going to use images. Creative Commons licences clearly state what you can and can’t do with an image but they are not all the same. The list at Creative Commons http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ outlines the terms and conditions. “FAQs – Copyright – University of Reading” at http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/imps/Copyright/imps_copyrightfaqs.aspx gives some guidance on copyright but if in doubt always ask! An example of what can happen if you get it wrong is demonstrated by “Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics on Your Blog” http://www.roniloren.com/blog/2012/7/20/bloggers-beware-you-can-get-sued-for-using-pics-on-your-blog.html.


Beating Google into submission – top tips

Oh what fun we had beating Google into submission on June 28th! This advanced Google workshop was held at Reading University and covered some of the new goings on at Google (no more ‘ANDing’ for search terms, personalisation of results) as well as the some of the established techniques for making Google behave itself. The following is what the group came up with at the end of the day as their collaborative top tips for persuading Google to run your search the way you want it run.

1. Search settings

Use the search settings to:

  • alter the level of the safe search
  • switch on/off Google Instant. This is the feature that changes and displays results as your type in your search. Some people find it useful whilst others find it extremely irritating. A big disadvantage of it is that it only displays 10 results per page.
  • increase the number of results per page from 10 to up to 100. Since you can no longer guarantee that you will find the most relevant page in the first 10 results this enables you to view more without having to click through to the next page. Google Instant, which allows only 10 results per page, must be switched off.
  • open results in a new browser window or tab. This allows you to view results while leaving your search page intact in a separate tab or window.
  • switch on/off or edit your search history. Search history is used by Google to customise your results and some people prefer to switch it off. It can, though, provide a useful record of the searches you have carried out and the pages that you have visited from that search.

Search settings is hidden under the cog wheel which appears in the upper right hand area of your results page. In some browser versions it appears in the top right hand corner of the Google home page. The Advanced Search screen link is also hidden under the cog wheel.

Search Settings

2. Sign out of all social media and search engine accounts

Both Google and Bing are experimenting with including content from your social media connections in your search results when you are signed in to your networks. For Google, the Google.com version is where it is happening at the moment and it pulls in content from members of your Google+ circles. to see Bing’s new social sidebar, which includes content from Facebook friends and Twitter,  you have to use the US version of Bing.  The Google+ results are intermingled with the main results whereas Bing displays then in a separate sidebar on the right of the results page. For more details see Danny Sullivan’s article Bing Relaunches, Features New Social Sidebar http://searchengineland.com/the-new-bing-microsoft-tries-again-with-search-meets-social-120728

Including posts from your social network friends in your results is not always a bad thing. You may uncover valuable information and gain a different perspective on the subject of your research. There is, though, the issue of privacy. A contact in one of your Google+ circles may have posted a comment and restricted it to a circle of which you happen to be a member, so it is not public. If you want to include the information in a print out or report for a client you will have to seek permission first. Even if you try and anonymise the information there may still be enough clues to identify the source.

3. Check out Google.com as well as Google.co.uk

Apart from presenting your search results in a different order Google.com is where Google tries out new features. As well as seeing pages that may not be highly ranked in Google.co.uk you will get an idea of the future direction of Google search.

4. Limit by date.

Use the date options in the menu on the left hand side of the results page to limit your results to the last day, week, month, year or within a custom date range. This tends to work best with blogs and news sources. With ordinary web pages Google looks at the time stamp that is assigned to a page when it is uploaded, or reloaded, to the web site. This can be very different from the date on which  it was written. If you are looking for recent material it will, though, exclude pages that have been languishing untouched on a web site for years. To see the date option you have to click on the ‘More search tools’ options at the bottom of the menu.

5. Verbatim.

The essential tool for taming Google. Google automatically looks for variations of your terms, which is not always helpful. Prefixing a term with the ‘+’ sign to force an exact match no longer works in web search, but confusingly still does  in Google Scholar, and Google has suggested using double quote marks around terms or phrases instead. This does not always work.  And now Google no longer looks for all of your terms in a document. If you want Google to run your search exactly as you have typed it in, click on the ‘More search tools’ options at the bottom of the left hand menu on your results page and then click on Verbatim at the bottom. Unfortunately, Verbatim does not work with the date options but there is a solution….see number 6 below.

6. Combining with Verbatim with date limits.

There are two ways to do this: the hard way and the easy way.

First of all the hard way. This uses the ‘daterange:’ operator and Julian dates. Daterange does not understand the mm/dd/yyyy or dd/mm/yyyy date formats. You have to convert your dates to Julian date format. This is explained on the Julian Date Converter page at http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/JulianDate.php and there is a handy tool that will do the date conversion for you. You then copy the Julian date omitting the fraction and paste it into your search. For example if you are looking for  pages mentioning housing benefits Cameron between June 20th and June 26th 2012:

daterange:2456098-2456104 housing benefits Cameron

Once the results are displayed use the Verbatim option to force Google to look for exactly what you’ve asked for.

Now the easy way. There are several tools that will carry out a date limited Google search and one of them can be found at http://gmacker.com/web/content/gDateRange/gdr.htm (many thanks to Richard Clauson who found this for us). Simply fill in the boxes and on the Google results page click on Verbatim at the bottom of the left hand menu.

Why have I detailed the hard way? Because the easy tools may stop working or disappear without trace.

7. Results page sidebar.

Use the sidebar on the left hand side of the results page to focus your search and extra search features. To see all of the options click on the ‘More’ and ‘More search tools’ links. The content of the sidebar changes with the type of search you are running, for example Image search has a colour option.

8. Google Art Project http://www.googleartproject.com/

This is a collaboration between Google and over 150 galleries from across the world.  You can take a virtual tour of a gallery and zoom in on a painting to see the brushstrokes. You can view paintings and drawings by gallery or by artist. Warning: this is highly addictive!

9. Numeric range.

Use this for anything to do with numbers – years, temperatures, weights, distances, prices etc. Use the boxes on the Advanced Search screen or just type in your two numbers separated by two full stops as part of your search. For example:

world oil demand forecasts 2015..2030

10.  Repeat your search terms one or more times. 

Ideal for getting out of a search rut or forcing Google to give you different results. Repeat your main search term or terms to change the order of your results – sometimes radically.

Workshop: Beating Google into submission (Reading)

A reminder that I am running an advanced search workshop concentrating on Google on June 28th, venue Reading University.

Topics will include:

– how Google works – what Google tells us and what we have to guess
– latest developments at Google- what’s gone, what’s new, impact on search results
– how Google customises your results and can you stop it?
– how to focus your search and control Google
– Google’s specialist tools and databases
– what Google is good at and when you should consider alternatives

You will have ample opportunity to experiment and try out the techniques for yourself. Exercises are provided to help you test out the search features but you are free to explore and try out searches of your own.

This workshop is suitable for all levels of experience. The techniques and approaches covered can be applied to all subject areas.

Cost: £150 +VAT (Total £180). A limited number of places for unwaged and students are available; please contact karen.blakeman@rba.co.uk for further details.

Full details are at Beating Google into submission: how to get better search results http://www.rba.co.uk/training/Google.htm

Workshop and presentation given at the 11th SAOIM June 5th-8th

The slides for the workshop and presentation I gave at the 11th Southern African Online Information Meeting are now up on authorSTREAM and Slideshare.

Personalisation of search: take back control




Personalisation of search: take back control – ADDENDUM

Answers to some of the questions that arose during the workshop




The future of search: localisation, personalisation and socialisation



Business information key web resources presentation

This is the presentation that formed the basis of the business information workshop that I facilitated on 17th May 2012.

If you do not see the embedded presentation above you can go direct to the file on authorSTREAM at http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/karenblakeman-1430353-business-information-key-web-resources/

The top tips can be found at http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2012/05/28/business-information-workshop-top-tips/

Business Information Workshop – Top Tips

The TFPL business information workshop held on May 17th in London turned out to be quite an intense day with plenty of questions and much discussion between the participants regarding the services and resources they use. When it came to the participants nominating their Top Tips at the end of the day there was a bit of umming and ahhing initially but they soon picked up speed and we ended up with eleven. Here they are.

1. BL BIPC industry Guides The British Library Business Information and IP Centre’s industry guides were very popular. You probably already know about the BL Business Essentials wiki Industries pages (http://bl-business-essentials.wikispaces.com/Industries) but these have now been expanded into a series of 30 PDF guides at http://www.bl.uk/bipc/dbandpubs/Industry%20guides/industry.html highlighting relevant industry directories, databases, publications and websites. One of the participants who had been using the guides since they were launched said that they are regularly updated and everyone was impressed that a named person responsible for the guide is clearly shown on each one.

2.  Zanran  http://zanran.com/ A search tool for  identifying charts, graphs and tables of data in PDFs and Excel spreadsheets. Run your search and Zanran comes up with PDF and spreadsheet files that match your criteria. Very useful if you are looking for industry statistics.

3. Slideshare http://www.slideshare.net/ Looking for a conference presentation, an expert on a particular subject, overview or background on an industry then look in Slideshare. One workshop participant commented that they wished they had known about this a couple of weeks ago.

4.  SCOTBIS  http://scotbis.nls.uk/  A national information service aimed at Scottish businesses and based on the business resources at the National Library of Scotland but, nevertheless, useful information for those of us not based in Scotland. SCOTBIS provides its users with a free enquiry service and also offers fee-based research and other charged services.

5.  Don’t just Google – try other search tools! If you are carrying out a general web search don’t just Google. You may find the information you are looking for more quickly using alternatives such as Bing.com, DuckDuckGo.com, Yandex.com, Blekko.com

6.  Advanced search commands. Familiarise yourself with the advanced search commands, in particular ‘site:’  for searching within a single site and ‘filetype:’. Look for PowerPoints for presentations, spreadsheets for data and statistics, or PDF for research papers and industry/government reports. Note that filetype:ppt will not pick up the newer .pptx so you will need to include both in your search, for example.

filetype:ppt OR filetype:pptx

You will also need to include .xlsx if you are searching for Excel spreadsheets and .docx for Word documents.

7.  BUSLIB-L  – an email based discussion list that addresses all issues relating to the collection, storage, and dissemination of business information regardless of format. To join the list, go to http://list1.ucc.nau.edu/archives/buslib-l.html where there are also searchable archives.

8.  Bureau van Dijk’s M&A Portal http://www.mandaportal.com/ A gateway to news, events, research and analysis on mergers and acquisitions worldwide. Some of the information on the portal home page is free of charge and there is a free search option for tracking down deals and rumours contained in BvD’s Zephyr database. The deals can be sorted by value, date or status. Basic information is free but you can purchase the full details from the Zephyr database using a credit card. The cost of the reports varies depending on the amount and type of information available.

9. Mergers and Acquisitions Review (Thomson Reuters). This was recommended by one of the workshop participants. Free quarterly summaries and reviews of M&A activity, for example http://dmi.thomsonreuters.com/Content/Files/4Q11_MA_Legal_Advisory_Review.pdf and http://dmi.thomsonreuters.com/Content/Files/4Q11_MA_Financial_Advisory_Review.pdf

10. Official Company Registers. A first port of call for many of us when checking up on a company. Most registers’ sites will offer an English language interface for searching but the information is usually in the local language. To locate searchable online official registers try one of the following:




11. ISI Emerging Markets http://www.securities.com/ Provides news, company information, industry reports and M&A from over 100 emerging markets. Much of the content is unique to ISI Emerging Markets. This was another service that was highly recommended by one of the workshop participants.

Forthcoming workshop: Effective online search tools and techniques (Sheffield)

If you want to make Google behave or learn about alternative search tools, I am running a workshop for SINTO next week in Sheffield. It is a one day hands-on workshop to be held at Sheffield Hallam University on Tuseday 1st May (10 am – 4 pm).

This workshop will start with how Google works, important changes that are affecting search results, and how to make use of Google search features to improve and focus your search. It will then move on to other options for general web search and specialist tools for different types of information (for example statistics, social media, research) and subject areas. This workshop is suitable for all levels of experience and the techniques covered can be applied to all subject areas.

Cost: SINTO members £80 + £16 VAT= £96. Non-members £110 + £22 VAT = £132

Feel free to contact me if you require further information about the workshop content.

A booking form is available at http://extra.shu.ac.uk/sinto/Events/events.html or you can contact SINTO on Tel 0114 2255740, email sintoenquiry@shu.ac.uk

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 (http://www.google.com/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 site:ac.uk comes up with sensible results. Switch the order to site:ac.uk 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 http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2011/11/08/dear-google-stop-messing-with-my-search/#comments. 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 http://www.google.com/publicdata/ 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 http://www.google.com/trends/ – can be used to view search trends over time and to compare multiple search terms

Google Trends for Websites http://trends.google.com/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 http://www.google.com/insights/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 (http://duckduckgo.com/) 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.