Mystery Writers Forum

General Discussion and News => Chat => Topic started by: B L McAllister on November 10, 2007, 05:03:48 PM

Title: Search Engines
Post by: B L McAllister on November 10, 2007, 05:03:48 PM
I've heard that one should occasionally look for oneself on the web, so, more or less following that advice, I looked for my own website, using Google, the supposed gold standard for the purpose.  I told it to look for

Byron Kay McAllister Keithley mystery nudist,

all words that, one way or another, are tagged for the website and might bring it up.  Google gave me a page full of irrelevant references, none showing all six of those tags, and none in any way connected with my website. Google had a lot more up its sleeve if I'd click in the right place, and I forget whether I did or not, but I didn't notice my website on Google at all.

So I tried the same thing on Yahoo, and up came a page of references every one of which referred to some portion of my website.  Further clicking gave me a total of 35 references, all but one of which identified the site I was "looking for."  (It is true, I should admit, that the last four of the "good" ones weren't quite good, since they said I wasn't authorized and would have to "log in," though there was no explanation of how to do so.  No doubt Yahoo had even found some administrator items on the site, perhaps the "tags.")  Still, compared to Google's zero, Yahoo's30 correctly clickable references to various pages on the site I was seeking seems impressive.  The one odd one on Yahoo referred neither to sports nor pornography, a pleasant surprise after a previous Google search I'd made for the same site (with mildly different key words). 

I'm trying now to see how to set my web-browser(s) so they offer me Yahoo instead of Google in the first place.  Not that Google hasn't found a lot of stuff for me in the past: it's just that I think the folks who run it may have lost track of what search engines are generally thought to do--and formerly did.  Maybe it all comes from  the push  toward a marketing mentality, in which the primary goal of every communication is to give you a sales pitch for something you didn't know you were interested in? The language may have been entirely subverted by folks who think its primary purpose is advertising, with seldom even a curtsey in the direction of information  sharing.
Title: Re: Search Engines
Post by: Lynette on November 10, 2007, 11:28:50 PM
Byron, I used Google and put just your name in to search and came up with several pages that all referred to you and your writing. Many of these references also referred to Kay. Stopped counting the references after about 40. I did the same thing for myself and came up with several pages including some where I was listed as a link on other writers' websites. I've always though it was important to list names of other writers in your links because if it isn't used from your site, both names will come up when the name is typed on a search.
You can check me out by using just Byron McAllister on Google and see what you get.
Title: Re: Search Engines
Post by: B L McAllister on November 11, 2007, 12:22:31 PM
Not surprisingly, I got what you got.  Maybe the point is that when I overwhelm Google with assorted relevant key words, Google retaliates by overwhelmiing me with irrelevant websites, some of which (after a few pages of useless ones?) may be appropriate.  This isn't the first time the contrast between Google's effectiveness and Yahoo's has impressed me, and I imagine it won't be the last, especially since eventually I'm almost sure to use Yahoo to find something, fail, use Google, succeed, and wonder why.  As a couple I once knew here in the west used to say (as a toast, accompanied by clinking glasses), "Oh, well."
Title: Re: Search Engines
Post by: Elena on November 11, 2007, 01:02:12 PM
Google is a bit frustrating that way - they take your query and automatically assign it the Boolean "OR", which is English language logic is AND/OR.  Therefore the more keywords the more "OR's" you get in response.

Unfortunately, they do not provide a way for users to select which Boolean operators they may actually wish to use. 

Therefore as you described, Byron, the fewer operators you key into Google the more "AND" hits you get, since following mathematical operations, ANDs are examined  before ORs.

The way they do it is a varient of the math order of precedence.  They search with AND for the first two key words - then take those hits and go to the third for AND, but if there are few or none, then they tackle the third key word for OR - they work their way down your key word list alternating that way. This gives you a wide variety of random hits.  Especially if what you wanted were all ANDs.

It is a shame that they do not offer an advanced search options with the operators - it would be an easy way to immensely increase the value of the software.

Probably more than you ever wanted to know - just a subject I find fun.
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