Google Retains Opt-Out Option

February 15, 2018

While the desire by most organizations to land at the top of relevant Internet search results was strong enough to spawn the entire SEO profession, some entities are not so eager for traffic. Now we learn Google will continue to let sites opt out of its search results, even though the legal requirement to do so has expired.  Ubergizmo reports, “Google Will Let Websites Opt Out of Surfacing in Search Results.” Writer Adnan Farooqui writes:

Google settled an antitrust investigation by the FTC back in 2012 by promising to change its behavior in several areas. The commitments it made included removing AdWords restrictions that made it harder for advertisers to run multi-platform campaigns and giving websites the option to opt out of being displayed in search results and having their content crawled. Both commitments that Google made to the FTC back in 2012 have expired as of December 27th, 201[7]. It’s under no obligation to continue honoring them but Google has said in a letter to the FTC that it will honor them. ‘We believe that these policies provide additional flexibility for developers and websites, and we will continue them as policies after the commitments expire,’ Google confirmed in the letter.

So, fear not— if you’d prefer your site not be found by drive-by Google traffic, the search engine will continue to have your back.

Cynthia Murrell, February 15, 2018

Google Has Its Own Browser History

February 2, 2018

Have you ever wanted to look at your past Google searches, but did not want to go through your browser history?  Google has a new feature that will allow users to see their recent searches.  Search Engine Land reports that “Google Home Page Search Box Now Shows You Recent Searches By Default” and it is a super option.  Super annoying, that is.  Whenever you use Google search, a default dropdown appears before you even enter text into the search box.

Even former Google search executive Matt Cutts said this “new feature” is super annoying.   He tried to opt out of it, but could not find the opt-out option.  Search Engine Land sent Google an email to see what the scoop was.  They discovered that even Google found the automatic browser history box annoying.  Here is Google’s official response:

Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that this is not the behavior they want and it was likely a bug. “We launched the ability to see past searches by clicking the search box earlier this year. However, past searches should not be appearing immediately on page load, so we are working to fix this issue,” a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land.

All right, Google!  You admitted a mistake and provided a solution.  Now can you do something about the fake news stories that are plaguing Google News?

Whitney Grace, February 2, 2018

Some Think Google Is No Longer the King of Search

January 18, 2018

Google is much more than a search engine, it’s a verb. Like Xerox and Kleenex before it, that says something about the hierarchy of their business. However, some are claiming it’s time for alternatives (In search…not in copy-making or nose blowing). This, according to a recent Eyerys story, “Searching Beyond Google: When The Internet is Too Big for a Single Search Engine.”

According to the story:

[T]he information you need might be hidden from the tools you use. Either because the webmasters wanted that to happen by blocking search engines’ access, or inaccessible by search engine because they are behind paywalls or login forms, or lies inside the deep web.

To access them, you need more specific tools other than search engines, and look at the right place, with the right privilege.

If and only if you still can’t find the information you’re looking for, it’s either not available on the internet, or doesn’t exist in the first place.

Or, they could be hidden inside database, encrypted, lies deeper and accessible to only using certain IPs, classified methods or privilege. In this case, it’s not publicly available though it is there. You need to be a hacker to get yourself into that, and that is certainly illegal by any means.

While the story has its heart in the right place, recommending alternative engines, like DuckDuckGo, and giving tips on using social media for search, it’s not really too believable. For one, humans are creatures of habit and they are stuck on the single search engine method. This is wishful thinking, and actually makes sense in places, but we can’t see it happening.

Patrick Roland, January 18, 2018

Qwant Goes to China

January 17, 2018

The roots of Qwant stretch back to Pertimm, an interesting search system which pre-dated today’s Qwant. Information in my files about Qwant reminded me that Qwant is a metasearch system which combines its own crawling of French sources. The key feature of Qwant is that it is not retaining data about users’ queries. It is important to keep in mind that legal intercepts can capture Internet data and may be able to map user actions to particular Web sites or topics.

In the article “Not Just a Horse: Macron Also Brings Privacy-Based Browser on Trip to China,” the French delegation visiting Chinese officials is, in part, designed to promote the use of Qwant.

I noted this statement in the article, one of the founders of Qwant allegedly stated:

Yes, we need a lot of data but we don’t need to know that it’s you or me. The whole idea of Qwant is to make AI and IoT without the data of the users. In our case, based on the fact that we are a privacy-based search engine, we don’t need people’s data. So maybe we‘ll have some technology that we can use more easily in China than some of our competitors.

My perception is that China is quite interested in who searches what, particularly within the Middle Kingdom. Qwant will follow “local regulations.”

My recollection is that Google has not achieved the same level of dominance that it has in Europe, home of Qwant.

Since the demise of Quaero and Muscat, Yandex has become one of the European alternatives to Google. The Exalead Web search system is still online, but it does not attract much attention. I find it useful because Google results are thin when I search for older content. You can locate the Exalead search system at this link. Dassault Systèmes uses Exalead for its product component search, and I am surprised that the company does not push the Web search capability more aggressively.

If you have not tried Qwant, you can try it at www.qwant.com. Compare the results with the Exalead system and the Russian Yandex system.

In my tests, I find it necessary to use multiple search systems, including the low profile iseek.com and Searx.me system. It is more difficult than ever to locate certain types of information in general purpose Web search systems. This applies to metasearch systems like Ixquick (now Startpage.com), Unbubble, Izito, and other systems which try to offer researchers an alternative to Google.

Google works well for pizza. Looking for other types of information? Qwant and other low profile systems have to be used. The process of locating something as basic as the address of a company in Madrid can require quite vigorous hoop jumping.

But China? Interesting.

Stephen E Arnold, January 17, 2018

A Look at Chinese Search Engine Sogou

December 25, 2017

An article at Search Engine Watch draws our attention to one overseas search contender—“What Do You Need to Know About Chinese Search Engine Sogou?” Sogu recently announced terms for a proposed IPO, so writer Rebecca Sentance provides a primer on the company. She begins with some background—the platform was launched in 2004, and the name translates to “searching dog.” She also delves into the not-so-clear issue of where Sogu stands in relation to China’s top search engine, Baidu, and some other contenders for the second-place, so see the article for those details.

I was interested in what Sentance writes about Sogou’s use of AI and natural language search:

It also plans to shift its emphasis from more traditional keyword-based search to answer questions, in line with the trend towards natural language search prompted by the rise of voice search and digital assistants. Sogou has joined major search players such as Bing, Baidu and of course Google in investing in artificial intelligence, but its small size may put it at a disadvantage. A huge search engine like Baidu, with an average of more than 583 million searches per day, has access to reams more data with which to teach its machine learning algorithms.

But Sogou has an ace up its sleeve: it is the only search engine formally allowed to access public messages on WeChat – a massive source of data that will be particularly beneficial for natural language processing. Plus, as I touched on earlier, language is something of a specialty area for Sogou, as Sogou Pinyin gives it a huge store of language data with which to work. Sogou also has ambitious plans to bring foreign-language results to Chinese audiences via its translation technology, which will allow consumers to search the English-speaking web using Mandarin search terms.

The article wraps up by looking at Sogou’s potential effect on search markets; basically, it could have a large impact within China, especially if Baidu keeps experiencing controversy. For the rest of the world, though, the impact should be minimal. Nevertheless, this is one company worth keeping an eye on.

Cynthia Murrell, December 25, 2017

There Is on Obscure Search Engine Beating Google (a Little)

December 22, 2017

Is there life out there beyond Google? Sure, there’s Bing and Yahoo, but are there any people could actually fall into a routine of using? If that’s your question, things could be looking up for your search, according to a recent Search Engine Watch story, “6 Innovative New Search Engines To Keep an Eye On.”

According to the story,

Believe it or not, there are a number of other search engines out there, still crawling the web and making their mark. Since Google has so completely dominated the “all-purpose” search engine space, many of them have moved to occupy more niche areas, like academia, or sought to distinguish themselves in other ways.

 

As technology continues to have a hand in most everything that we do, it’s important to be aware of the other contenders in the industry. While they aren’t likely to revolutionize SEO overnight, they’re indicative of the trends and technology currently making their way through search, which could show up on a much larger scale later on.

To those on the list, we wish you good luck. You’re gonna need it. Google has had a stranglehold on the search world for longer than anyone can remember. The only one of the engines recommended here that even stand a chance is Semantic Scholar. As Wired pointed out, this scholarly engine actually stands a great chance of succeeding somewhere Google can’t because it helps users bypass pesky paywalls for scientific journals. Wow. Keep an eye on this.

Patrick Roland, December 22, 2017

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

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