Using Smart Software to Make Google Search Less Awful

November 16, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb humanoid. No smart software required.

Here’s a quick tip: to get useful results from Google Search, use a competitor’s software. Digital Digging blogger Henk van Ess describes “How to Teach ChatGPT to Come Up with Google Formulas.” Specifically, Ess needed to include foreign-language results in his queries while narrowing results to certain time frames. These are not parameters Google handles well on its own. It was Chat GPT to the rescue—after some tinkering, anyway. He describes an example search goal:

“Find any official document about carbon dioxide reduction from Greek companies, anything from March 24, 2020 to December 21, 2020 will do. Hey, can you search that in Greek, please? Tough question right? Time to fire up Bing or ChatGPT. Round 1 in #chatgpt has a terrible outcome.”

But of course, Hess did not stop there. For the technical details on the resulting “ball of yarn,” how Hess resolved it, and how it can be extrapolated to other use cases, navigate to the write-up. One must bother to learn how to write effective prompts to get these results, but Hess insists it is worth the effort. The post observes:

“The good news is: you only have to do it once for each of your favorite queries. Set and forget, as you just saw I used the same formulae for Greek CO2 and Japanese EV’s. The advantage of natural language processing tools like ChatGPT is that they can help you generate more accurate and relevant search queries in a faster and more efficient way than manually typing in long and complex queries into search engines like Google. By using natural language processing tools to refine and optimize your search queries, you can avoid falling into ‘rabbit holes’ of irrelevant or inaccurate results and get the information you need more quickly and easily.”

Google is currently rolling out its own AI search “experience” in phases around the world. Will it improve results, or will one still be better off employing third-party hacks?

Cynthia Murrell, November 16, 2023


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