Searching For Earthquakes

This morning at 5 am US Pacific time there was a magnitude 4.2 earthquake in the Oakland, California hills where I live. Danny found the earthquake by doing a search on Ask simply for “earthquakes.” The example highlights the value of Ask 3D, the inclusion of more “vertical” structure in search results, and how the new Ask really shines in certain situations vs. the other engines.

Compare results:

Impressively, the correct result on Ask appears without using a geographic modifier, but there’s also a box to refine by geography within the body of the search results if the desired information isn’t present. On the other engines you could get to the same information but you’re at least a couple of clicks away from the SERPs.

Here’s our previous write up Ask 3D when it launched early last month.

Related Topics: Ask: Ask 3D | Channel: Search Marketing


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • BoardTracker

    Already the discussions are in full swing on the forums and of course indexed by boardtracker..

    Technorati also has a few posts indexed now and to be fair, so does google blogsearch.

    Personally I like to subscribe to search terms like “breaking news” which often gives me a heads up about things like this (although so far not in this case) – of course one could also subscribe to “earthquake, volcano, hurricane, ‘google down’” etc. to get the hot news on any major disaster (almost) as it happens.. ;)

  • exposureTim

    There is a bid difference, at least at Google, if you search for eathquake rather than the plural earthquakes.

    Interesting to note that, while I’m not a fan of Personalized Search, here is an example of where it might be useful.

    I’ve never done a search in my life for soccer or anything related to soccer teams or even California sports in general, so it might have been a good time to employ some PW and skip the team news. Maybe Google News and oneboxes are an appropriate place for PW rather than regular SERPs.

    And I guess Earthquakes is a brand name now, so that presents another challenge to be tackled.

  • gary price

    A couple of quick notes.

    You can also search and find recent quakes by a general location around the world. For example:
    earthquakes Japan or
    earthquakes Alaska

    Also, Ask offers (its been available for about a year) a near real time earthquake map of all detected quakes around the world.

    KPIX in San Francisco provides this video of a seismograph running during today’s quake. They also offer a real time feed of the several seismographs in the Bay Area.

  • gary price

    Hey Greg,
    I forgot to mention two more useful “historical” databases about earthquakes that I posted about and linked to on ResourceShelf over a year ago.

    Significant Earthquake Database (via NOAA) contains information on destructive earthquakes from 2150 B.C. to the present…”

    Earthquake Intensity Database Search, 1638-1985 (via NOAA) is a collection of damage and felt reports for over 23,000 U.S. earthquakes. The digital database contains information regarding epicentral coordinates, magnitudes, focal depths, names and coordinates of reporting cities (or localities), reported intensities, and the distance from city (or locality) to epicenter. Earthquakes listed in the file date from 1638 to 1985.”

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