If you don't "Bing" or "Dogpile," now's the time
ONLINE COLUMN: Web Savvy
Published: June 16, 2009
|If you're relying on a single search engine for research on the Web, you may miss information that sets your content apart from that of other writers. Microsoft's new search engine Bing is making headlines, and soon I suppose we'll 'Bing' just as we 'Google.' In fact, there are a number of engines and portals you can add to your arsenal of tools. There are even a few tactics that help refine your search query. And despite the dominance of engines like Google, there may be striking differences in results.|
|One attractive feature of Bing is an artsy photo changed out daily—it's hard to beat a color shot of Ponte Vecchio Duomo Cathedral in Florence, Italy. There's an option to install Microsoft's 'Silverlight' for access to archived photos. There's a link for images related to the current photo, and headline teasers at the bottom. And if you're searching a topical subject, Bing may yield more direct results. For instance, a recent search using the terms 'computer injuries at home' returned the top news story on that topic. But to get those results at Google, I had to search under 'News' instead of a general Web search. Based on my own trial and error, and my own preferences of course, Bing seems to return a more immediate type of content with a single click. I really like the look of the Microsoft product—it has an aesthetic element other search engines lack. I also noticed within days of the public premiere, I was getting Bing referrals to my site.|
Some search engines and directories are geared to specific industries. The Web site Search Engine Guide has an excellent list of those, with multiple categories like Real Estate, Jobs and Computing. A few links may surprise you. Some popular Web sites, often perceived as news sites, are basically search engines, directories or portals. One very useful site is Metagrid, listing approximately 8,000 newspapers and magazines worldwide. I write about global events frequently, so the breakdown by country at that site is a big timesaver. Here's where Google comes in handy, because it's often necessary to translate the page if the media outlet doesn't offer a version in one of the languages I can read.
Checking out new search engines isn't just useful for research. When you visit a new search engine, be sure to check to see if there's a way for you to submit your own blog or Web site URL directly. I see interesting referrals to my site because of that. There's a great analysis of free and fee-paid directories at Search Engine Watch. Carrie Hill breaks it all down in her column, My 'Must Have' List of Directories.
There are many search engines—if you query just using those two words, you'll find an abundance. Another of my favorites is Dogpile, and not just because they promote worthy charities. This engine pulls results from a number of other major search engine results. The site lists 'Favorite Fetches' on the main page, and that is sometimes useful when I'm looking for a timely column topic. Dogpile was named top consumer search engine by J.D. Power & Associates in 2006 and 2007.
It's also beneficial to use alternate techniques sometimes. Instead of just inputting your search terms, consider adding some simple keystrokes to expand or refine your results. Using the word NOT (all caps) will omit undesired results normally expected with a subject. For instance, if I type 'healthcare' but I'm not interested in politics, I might use the terms 'healthcare NOT government' to take a more direct path. There's an excellent resource on using such search operators—words like AND, OR, and NEAR, technically called 'Boolean'—at About.com's Web Search journal.
You can also search for specific Web sites. Another About.com site, Google Power Searches, explains this well. For example, by using the term 'intitle: freelancers,' you will get results with that word in the title of the page.
There are near-infinite Internet resources for enhancing searches. Use as many of those resources as possible to make your content distinct, and in doing so, to set your brand apart from other writers who don't venture beyond the familiar.
Microsoft's new search engine
Metagrid lists newspapers and magazines worldwide.
Search Engine Guide offers links to news and media search engines and portals.
Analysis by Carrie Hill: 'My Must Have List of Directories'
Dogpile brings together results from a number of leading search engines-a metasearch.
Boolean Search at About.com.
Google Power Search at About.com.
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--Published June 16, 2009
Join us next time as we discuss the dangers (and the benefits) in Internet distractions.
Kay B. Day
Florida journalist Kay B. Day has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. The author of two books, she has written for The Christian Science Monitor, United Press International, The Florida Times-Union and Sky News. To read Kay's other Web Savvy columns about writing for the Web, click here.