Cricket More Popular Than Koran

December 11, 2017

In the West, we tend to think that Islamic countries spend all waking hours of the day praying, reading the Koran, and doing other religious-based activities.  We forget that these people are just as human as the rest of the world and have a genuine interest in other things, like sports.  While not the most popular sport in North America, cricket has billions of fans and is very popular in Pakistan reports Research Snipers in the article, “Most Popular Keywords Searched On Google Pakistan.”

Google Trends is a free service the search engine provides that allows people to see how popular a search query is.  It shows how popular the search query is across a global spectrum.  When it comes to Pakistan, the most popular search terms of 2017 are as follows:

Top keywords searched in Pakistan in 2017, till now are

  • Pakistan

  • Cricket Pakistan

  • Pakistan Cricket Team

  • India

  • Pakistan India

  • News Pakistan

    Pakistan Jobs.

People in Pakistan are huge sports fans of the British sport and shopping apparently.  The Google AutoComplete tool suggests search terms based on letters users type into the search box.  Wen “A” is typed into a Pakistan Google search box, Amazon pops up.  Pakistanis love to shop and the sports cricket.  They are not any different than the rest of the world.

Whitney Grace, December 11, 2017

Personalizing a Chromebook Search Takes Some Elbow Grease

December 8, 2017

Chromebooks are a great laptop and cost a fraction of the price of an Apple or a Microsoft PC.  There is a learning curve for new users to Chromebooks, because they lack the familiar PC and Apple interfaces.  With a little elbow grease, however, and research any Chromebook user can become an expert.  The Verge shares a how-to article, “How To Customize Your Google Chrome And Chromebook Searches” that can get new users started.

The Chromebook OS lacks customization options, especially when it comes to search.  There is a little-known feature in Chrome OS that allows users to customize their search options.  What is great about this option is that it syncs customization across all Chrome browser you use.

The article provides a step by step guide on how to activate the search customization option and also includes some tips on how to improve you search overall.

Those customizations aren’t just limited to the Google search bar on Chromebooks. Basically, as long as you’re logged into Chrome, your customizations for the search bar will sync across to any Chrome Browser you’re using. So whether you use a Chromebook or just use the Chrome browser, here’s how to supercharge your searches for the stuff you use most often.

Read the article and learn how your Chromebook functions with search.  The learning curve is small and it will be well worth it.

Whitney Grace, December 8, 2017

Craigslist Is Shooting Itself in the Foot by Shunning Search

December 6, 2017

Craigslist is legendary as a way to find things, sell things, get jobs and meet people. But, it’s aim is to do so locally. Recently, some search engines started allowing users to search all of Criagslist, but it won’t last and that’s a shame. We learned this from a Search Engines List article, “How to Search All of Craigslist.”

According to the story, there are several new search tools on the market:

All these sites work roughly the same way. They provide a simple front end with either a series of selections to choose from or a search engine box. You can use them to search Craigslist, and sometimes other classified advert websites, without having to drill down into your city or area.


Use these services while you can, though. Unfortunately, Craigslist is cracking down on scrapers and websites that crawl its website. It has already blocked a number of the more popular Craigslist crawlers and will likely block more as time goes on. In the meantime, all those websites in the links I provided are currently working fine (as of January 2017).

This is a real shame. With a national and international reach that this technology serves, Craigslist should be embracing it, not shutting it down. Something like this could turn Craigslist into the next eBay.

Patrick Roland, December 6, 2017

Ichan Makes It Easier to Access the Dark Web

November 17, 2017

A new search engine for the Dark Web may make that shady side of the Internet accessible to more people. A piece at DarkWebNews introduces us to “Ichidan: A New Darknet Search Engine.” Writer Richard tells us:

Ichidan is a brand new darknet search engine platform that lets users search and access Tor-powered ‘.onion’ sites. The format and interface of the platform bear much similitude with the conventional search engines like Bing and Google. However, the darknet search engine has been designed with an entirely different purpose. While Google was created with the aim of collecting user information and analyzing the behavior across several platforms, Ichidan specifically aims to render selfless services to the users who access the darknet and are looking for some particular Tor site to get the necessary information. Owing to its simplicity and ease of use, the darknet search engine has now managed to be an incredibly helpful tool for individuals using the dark web. Security research professionals, for instance, are quite happy with the services of this new darknet search engine.

The article notes that one way to use Ichan seems to be to pinpoint security vulnerabilities on Dark Web sites. A side effect of the platform’s rise is, perhaps ironically, its revelation that the number of Dark Web marketplaces has shrunk dramatically. Perhaps the Dark Web is no longer such a good place for criminals to do business as it once was.

Cynthia Murrell, November 17, 2017

Voice Search: Bing vs Google

November 3, 2017

We all know that Microsoft’s Bing has struggled to compete with Google Search. Will voice search level the field? Search Engine Watch ponders, “How Does Bing’s Voice Search Compare to Google’s?” Writer Clark Boyd acknowledges it does not seem Bing will eclipse Google as a whole anytime soon, but points to Microsoft’s new partnership with Amazon’s Alexa as evidence of change. The article delves into specifics about Microsoft’s voice-search technology, mostly with details on Cortana but also citing the voice search now found in their Edge browser. It also examines the company’s apparent strategy, which involves that partnership with Amazon and integration into popular platforms like Spotify.

Boyd next examines specific differences between the companies’ voice searches. For example, he states Cortana is better at understanding his Irish accent, and Cortana’s tie-in with Windows lends efficiency to task management. It is Boyd’s analysis of context, though, that I found most interesting. He writes:

When a user is logged in across Windows products, Cortana can serve accurate contextual results. See below for an example of the same phrase [“who are Leeds playing today?”] searched by voice on a Windows laptop using Cortana and Google. The differences are slight but telling. Cortana knows that I am currently in Spain (I am using a Windows laptop), and therefore provides the kick-off in my local time. Google is not privy to this information and serves the result in Eastern Time, as my account is based in the US. When results default to Bing, it all gets a little hairier. I follow up by asking who will be in the starting lineup and receive a bizarre result about the USA soccer team, a news story about a Leeds starting lineup from three years ago, and some news about the Leeds music festival. Google does a better job of this, but both lack the immediacy that integration with a social media feed would provide.


This same pattern plays out across a wide range of travel, weather, and commercial queries. When Cortana can pull an immediate answer, it does so very capable; when it resorts to providing a list of search results from Bing, the quality varies. Google, therefore, represents a much more consistent, reliable option.

Those last two sentences serve the differences in a nutshell. The article concludes with a handy graphic that compares and contrasts Microsoft’s and Google’s voice search pros, cons, and other differences. Will an alliance with Amazon help Bing narrow the distance between it and Google Search? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, November 3, 2017


Queries Change Ranking Factors

October 26, 2017

Did you ever wonder how Google determines which Web pages to send to the top of search results?  According to the Search Engine Journal, how Google decides on page rankings depends on the query results-see more in the article: “Google: Top Ranking Factors Change Depending On Query.”  The article contains screenshots of a Twitter conversation between people at Google as they discuss search rankings.

Gary Illyes explains that there are not three ranking factors that apply to all search results.  John Mueller joined the conversation and said that Google’s algorithm’s job is to display the relevant content, but other factors vary.  Mueller also adds that trying to optimize content for ranking factors in simply short-term thinking.  Illyes mentioned that links (backlinking presumably) is not much of a factor either.

In summary:

That’s why it’s important for Google’s algorithms to be able to adjust and recalculate for different ranking signals.

Ranking content based on the same 3 ranking signals at all times would result in Google not always delivering the most ‘relevant’ content to users.

As John Mueller says, at the end of the day that’s what Google search is trying to accomplish.

There is not a magic formula to appear at the top of Google search results.  Content is still key as is paid results too.

Whitney Grace, October 26, 2017

The Future of Virtual Search Lies in Surprising Hands

October 12, 2017

The world of text-based search has its days numbered. At least, that’s what some experts are saying when they discuss virtual search engines. But should we be throwing today’s strongest text-based search giants on the scrap heap? It’s not that easy, according to Search Engine Watch in a new article called, “Pinterest, Google, or Bing: Who Has The Best Virtual Search Engine?”

Historically, we know that video, images, and articles have been cataloged in a text-based system for search. This keyword-based system that Google has perfected over the last few decades is, however, more limiting than much anticipated. These static keyword searches are ignoring a vast swath of search potential that some surprising sources are tapping into the virtual search market.

According to Search Engine Watch:

Already, specific ecommerce visual search technologies abound: Amazon, Walmart, and ASOS are all in on the act. These companies’ apps turn a user’s smartphone camera into a visual discovery tool, searching for similar items based on whatever is in frame. This is just one use case, however, and the potential for visual search is much greater than just direct ecommerce transactions.


After a lot of trial and error, this technology is coming of age. We are on the cusp of accurate, real-time visual search, which will open a raft of new opportunities for marketers.

So, who is going to lead the charge in this virtual search frontier? Google, right? They own search today and will probably own it tomorrow, right? Not so fast. According to the piece, Google Lens is still in BETA testing and not as robust as the competition. If they follow their historical trajectory, they will be a leader here. But it’s too early to tell.

Instead, the virtual search market is currently led by some surprising players. Pinterest and Bing both have platforms that provide different levels of accuracy in accumulating things like your search history and things you take pictures of to help search. All these companies are still pretty new at virtual search, but we like the odds of Bing and Pinterest to stake a serious claim for the future.

Patrick Roland, October 12, 2017

Google Sitelinks Adopts Carousel Presentation

October 9, 2017

For its mobile search, Google is shifting its Sitelinks presentation to a carousel design, we learn in Search Engine Land’s brief write-up, “Google Officially Changes Sitelinks Design to Carousel Format.” (Think of a slide-projector carousel, not the kind with wooden horses.) Writer Barry Schwartz reveals:

Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that they are now rolling out a new design for Sitelinks. Sitelinks are additional links within the snippets of the search results where searchers can quickly jump to important and relevant pages on that site, as opposed to the main listing in the search result snippet. Google has been testing a carousel format for these Sitelinks for over a year and today has confirmed they are now rolling out the new carousel-based design for mobile search results.

Schwartz provides a screenshot of the feature in action and notes it shifts left or right at the user’s swipe. Perhaps the revised design will encourage more people to use the under-appreciated Sitelinks feature.

Cynthia Murrell, October 9, 2017



Yandex Adds Deep Neural Net Algorithm

September 18, 2017

One of Google’s biggest rivals, at least in Asia, is Russian search engine Yandex and in efforts to keep themselves on top of search, Yandex added a new algorithm and a few other new upgrades.  Neowin explains what the upgrades are in the article, “Yandex Rolls Out Korolev Neural Net Search Algorithm.”  Yandex named its upgraded deep neural network search algorithm Korolev and they also added Yandex. Toloka new mass-scale crowdsources platform that feeds search results into MatrixNext.

Korolev was designed to handle long-tail queries in two new ways its predecessor Palekh could not.  Korolev delves into a Web page’s entire content and also it can analyze documents a thousand times faster in real time.  It is also designed to learn the more it is used, so accuracy will improve the more Korolev is used.

Korolev had an impressive release and namesake:

The new Korolev algorithm was announced at a Yandex event at the Moscow Planetarium. Korolev is of course named after the Soviet rocket engineer, Sergei Korolev, who oversaw the Sputnik project, 60 years ago, and the mission that saw Yuri Gagarin get to space. Yandex teleconferenced with Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergey Ryazansky who are currently representing Russia on the International Space Station.

Yandex is improving its search engine results and services to keep on top of the industry and technology.

Whitney Grace, September 18, 2015

How Search Moves Forward

September 8, 2017

Researchers at UT Austin are certainly into search engines, and are eager to build improved neural models. The piece “The Future of Search Engines” at Innovation Toronto examines two approaches, suggested by associate professor Matthew Lease, to create more effective information retrieval systems. The article begins by describing how search engines currently generate their results:

The outcome is the result of two powerful forces in the evolution of information retrieval: artificial intelligence — especially natural language processing — and crowdsourcing. Computer algorithms interpret the relationship between the words we type and the vast number of possible web pages based on the frequency of linguistic connections in the billions of texts on which the system has been trained. But that is not the only source of information. The semantic relationships get strengthened by professional annotators who hand-tune results — and the algorithms that generate them — for topics of importance, and by web searchers (us) who, in our clicks, tell the algorithms which connections are the best ones. Despite the incredible, world-changing success of this model, it has its flaws. Search engine results are often not as ‘smart’ as we’d like them to be, lacking a true understanding of language and human logic. Beyond that, they sometimes replicate and deepen the biases embedded in our searches, rather than bringing us new information or insight.

The first paper, Learning to Effectively Select Topics For Information Retrieval Test Collections (PDF), details a way to pluck and combine the best work of several annotators, professional and crowd-sourced alike, for each text. The Innovation Toronto article spends more time on the second paper,  Exploiting Domain Knowledge via Grouped Weight Sharing with Application to Text Categorization (PDF). The approach detailed here taps into existing resources like WordNet, a lexical database for the English language, and domain ontologies like the Unified Medical Language System. See the article for the team’s suggestions on using weight sharing to blend machine learning and human knowledge.

The researchers’ work was helped by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, three government organizations hoping for improvements in the quality of crowdsourced information. We’re reminded that, though web-search companies do perform their own research, it is necessarily focused on commercial applications and short-term solutions. The sort of public investment we see at work here can pave the way to more transformative, long-term developments, the article concludes.

Cynthia Murrell, September 8, 2017

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