The Feature Google Killed The + Command For — Direct Connect — Is Now Dead

google-plus-signs-600 Cast your mind back to November 2011, only a few months after the launch of Google+. That's when Google made one of its biggest Google+ification moves. It demoted a long-standing search feature involving the plus symbol so that searchers could instead more easily reach new "Google+ Pages" that had been launched. Today, this "Direct Connect" feature is forgotten and broken. How Direct Connect Worked When Direct Connect launched, Google promised that people could go directly to popular pages on Google+ by beginning their searches with a + sign followed by a few characters of the page's name. F [...]

Google Power User Tips: Query Operators

I love showing off my Google power searching skills when presenting or meeting or talking with a prospective client. I just know it boosts my credibility in the eyes of my audience. Invest a bit of time in learning some of the lesser-used Google query refinements -- i.e. the operators, parameters, and so forth -- and you too can amaze your friends, family, boss, co-workers and clients! For Part 1 of this series, I'm going to focus on the various commands:  the search operators, also known as query operators -- for the search box to restrict your results or to otherwise pull the needle from [...]

Math Engines: For Multiplying Mixed Fractions, It’s Wolfram Alpha Over Google & Bing

Ah, math. It's why I became an English major. But now math is spinning back around and haunting me in the form of my fifth grader. Last night, I found myself dealing with how to multiply fractions as part of helping with his homework assignment. Um, yeah, I think I remember how. But to be certain, could search engines help as a double-check? Enter the awesomeness of Wolfram Alpha. Doing math through a search engine isn't new. One of Google's earliest parlor tricks was allowing people to enter math problems into its search box and get answers. Indeed, I use it for this more than my pocket ca [...]

Google Changes How It Handles Synonyms

In a post on the Official Google Blog, Google opens up the curtains a bit on how it handles synonyms in search queries and results. It's a fairly detailed peek inside one aspect of Google's search algorithms -- an aspect that Google says affects a lot of searches: "...our measurements show that synonyms affect 70 percent of user searches across the more than 100 languages Google supports. We took a set of these queries and analyzed how precise the synonyms were, and were happy with the results: For every 50 queries where synonyms significantly improved the search results, we had only one trul [...]

Does Marissa Mayer’s “Perfect Search Engine” Already Exist In Siri?

Recently IDG News Service asked Google's Marissa Mayer about the "perfect search engine." Here was the question posed: "What is the perfect search engine? If you had a magic wand and could create it, what would it look like? What would it do?" Mayer replied: "It would be a machine that could answer that question, really. It would be one that could understand speech, questions, phrases, what entities you're talking about, concepts. It would be able to search all of the world's information, [find] different ideas and concepts, and bring them back to you in a presentation that was really infor [...]

Up Close With Google Search Options

Now that Google Search Options has added new features, I thought it was a good time to revisit how everything works -- and in some cases, doesn't work. Let's get up close and personal with all the filtering options! NOTE: See Meet The New Google Look & Its Colorful, Useful "Search Options" Column for important updates on how Search Options described below now work. By the way, this is a long article. If you want a digest of what's new today, then see the much shorter companion piece, Google Adds Visited Pages, Past Hour & Fewer Shopping Sites Filtering. Using Search Options [...]

New Video: Easy Tips For Better Searching

Last year, Common Craft produced a great, short video explaining RSS "in plain English." The company is back now with another wonderful one, Web Search Strategies in Plain English. It's less than three minutes long and does a great job explaining how to use some of the most simple "power" commands at searchers' disposal -- the minus sign and quotation marks. Be sure to check it out! The video is also below: [...]

What You Can Learn From Google’s “Site” Operator

Google has a set of advanced search operators that can be accessed either through the advanced search page, or by using specialized commands in conjunction with your query from any Google web search box. One of the most useful for search engine optimization is the "site:" operator. Google's "site:" is an advanced search operator that allows you to see the URLs they have indexed for your website. To access it, you simply type into Google's search box the following: Substituting your own domain for, of course. This is one of the first things we do when res [...]

Link Development Tool Shortcuts For Firefox

A few weeks back I did a post on my blog about creating Firefox quick search bookmarks. I was surprised at how well received it was, though I think people were most pleased with the fact that I had created a download of a very small selection of the large list of SEO related Firefox quick searches that I use. If you've ever seen me do a site review, you'd know I appear lost without my laptop, which contains all of my quick searches. Since the small list of general SEO ones I previously published was well received, I figured I would create a download of some of the ones I find to be [...]

Google Search URL Parameters Explained

Appending different parameters to the end of the Google search URL string can often extend the Google search results into something that may be more tailored for your specific search. Joost de Valk created a Google Web search parameters cheat sheet (PDF file) that contains a comprehensive list of many of the different parameters you can add to the Google search URL. [...]

Addicted to Link Research?

It's been a little over a week since MS Live Search disabled linking related advanced queries. The post itself announcing the decision was short, but the commentary that followed it was anything but. What's the big deal? The search engines never had to give us this data in the first place. The actual operator, link: is a creation of the engines, and it was a bonus freebie that many of us have used and abused for years. I'm thankful that we still have Google and Yahoo to use for link searches, but frankly I'm more thankful that Microsoft is considering a more robust "functionality for rea [...]

Google Now Reporting Anchor Text Phrases

Hurray! Finally, you can get a report from Google of the top anchor text phrases used when people link to your site. Google Webmaster Central has just announced the new feature. But didn't Google already report anchor text data? Yes, but only keywords, not phrases. Keywords are mostly useless junk food data. Phrases are datalicious, tasty and helpful. Below, a detailed and illustrated look at what a difference a phrase makes and how to claim your own. Getting The Anchor Text Data To access the data, you have to be verified Google Webmaster Central user. That's explained more here, and it's [...]

Yahoo To Redirect More Search Query Types Site Explorer

August of last year, Yahoo began pointing "link:" and "linkdomain:" without other search operators queries towards Site Explorer. Today, Yahoo will be redirecting "domain:" and "hostname:" queries to Site Explorer as well. So if you do a search at and it is using those query types, they will soon redirect to Site Explorer. It appears that this is not live yet, but Yahoo tells me it will happen today some time. [...]

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