Searching 101

Yesterday, the US President made reference to this “report” indicating that there was a problem with Google searching for him and the results returned.  Is it rigged?

I wonder.

Common social media wisdom is that you should “Google Yourself” periodically to make sure that your online presence is appropriate.  I’m sure that’s what he was doing.  Actually, I’d be willing to bet that he was made aware of the article and then did a search.

So, if the president of the United States has issues, how about this little guy blogging away on his Chromebook?  I decided to test it out.  We all know that Google has its “magic sauce”.  Is it friendly to me?

I put Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo to the test – just simply looking for myself.  To make things easier (or skewed), I made sure that I was logged into my Google and Microsoft accounts.

Here are the results.

Google:

Two of the top 10 results were of me.  The number one result was actually a football coach who spells his name differently.

Bing:

One of the top 10 results were of me.  That football coach appears again.

DuckDuckGo:

Wow, there are a lot of people with similar spellings.  In fact, DDG thought that I made a mistake and wanted to search for “Pederson”!  I didn’t appear in the top 10 results but eventually reference to my Twitter account appeared.

So, rigged?

Now, all of this was interesting (kind of) but is certainly not representative of how I do searches.  Even when I was responsible for the Student Reference Portal for my district, I’d never suggest going to the simplest of searches.  Every search engine has advanced search abilities that lets you find the most relevant resources.

Screenshot 2018-08-29 at 11.40.28

This is where anyone who is serious about the results of searching should begin.  It’s “Searching 101”.  In fact, by using the advanced search properly, I was able to generate 10 results that were all me.

Could I be so bold as to suggest this should be the first lesson on searching skills for the upcoming school year?

https://www.google.com/advanced_search

And, if you don’t want to bookmark a particular site, you’re well advised to learn how to use search operators.

https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2466433?hl=en

https://ahrefs.com/blog/google-advanced-search-operators/

https://www.ampercent.com/bing-search-tips-commands/9282/

https://duck.co/help/results/syntax

If you’re going to use the tools, use the tools to their max.

Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is created by me at the keyboard or as a result of an aggregator of my daily reading under the title OTR Links. On Fridays, look for my signature post "This Week in Ontario Edublogs" where I try to share some great writing from Ontario Educators. The other regular post appears Sunday mornings as I try to start a conversation about things that have gone missing from our daily lives.

2 thoughts on “Searching 101

  1. Good morning Doug!

    I found your impetus to conduct an inquiry into Google search this morning to be “interesting.“ While I can confess that I really didn’t read much beyond headlines with regards to Mr. Trump’s challenges in finding the news that he wanted to read, I’m not surprised that he had difficulty finding it.

    I will be honest that I very rarely conduct an advanced search. Either my standards are low and I tend to accept whatever Google feeds me back, or my search parameters tend to lock on to what I am looking for such that I can get what I need. (It could also be that I automatically revise my search parameters until I get what I need without really noticing that part of the process. Suffice to say, I don’t find myself sitting there hours on end, frustrated that I can’t find what I’m looking for. Google Search is one of the most amazingly useful technologies we have these days. I use it Bigly.)

    I decided to replicate your “Doug Peterson“ search challenge, but with one simple refinement. Note that I did not use the advanced search interface, but rather the URL box in Safari (omnibox in Google Chrome parlance) with one simple additional word to qualify my search. You were not looking for any old Doug Peterson, you were looking for the Doug Peterson who is an educator (that’s my expectation in this context). So that’s what I put into the search box.

    Probably Mr. Trump would have had greater success in finding what he was looking for had he simply typed in “Donald Trump Breitbart“ or “Donald Trump Fox and Friends.” Alternatively, he might be well advised to start using the NOT operator, thereby excluding any of the oh-so-numerous stories that he does not want to hear about. I will not waste our time by listing them here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I decided to search for myself. Bing and DDG both had me three times in the first ten. In the first four in fact. Google had me 5 times in the first ten. I may have to switch back to it. 🙂

    On the other hand, it feels like Google is more easily gamed than the others. Today people were telling me to look for “idiot” in Google images. Up came a lot of pictures of Trump. Other search engines did not have the same result at all. That tends me to mistrust Google’s algorithms so maybe I will stick with Bing after all.

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