Better Google Searching: Concept vs Literal Search Strategies
Posted by Bob Warfield on November 21, 2007
I was reminded again by Bubble Generation that for many people, Google is getting more spammy and harder to search. I’ve greatly changed my search habits over the year, and for the better. I break my searching down into two categories:
– Concept Search: I want to learn more about a concept without respect to who is talking about it, who owns it, who is selling it, and so on.
– Literal Search: I want to find something literally: a company, a person, a document, a product, or a specific piece of data such as the incidence of violent crime in Los Angeles.
The reason I start by looking at which kind of search I want to do is that I’ve taken to performing Concept Searching almost exclusively using blog search. The blogosphere is not quite so penetrated by spam and SEO optimization as mainstream web, so my results are often a lot better. Also, bloggers do a lot of linking, which means that each good hit immediately yields several great links. It doesn’t take me long to research a concept this way. Certainly it’s much faster and more efficient.
Ironically, literal search is less spam-polluted on the mainstream web than concept search, so by restricting my mainstream Google search to literal searches, I get faster better results there too. I suspect the reason is that it is harder to hijack literals because people own a lot of literal search terms as trademarks and the like. There are a couple of refinements.
Reviews turn out to be better searched on the blogosphere. Type any product and the word “review” and the Google results are hopeless. That’s fine, blogs are great review sources. Also, for people, I’ve gotten to where I like to type the name and the word “LinkedIn”. This gets me their LinkedIn profile right out of Google much faster than I can get over to LinkedIn to search. Often that profile is all I need to make contact with the person or learn a little about their background.
I’ve written about blog searching before, but wanted to pass along the tip again. It has certainly saved me a lot of time reading bad Google result pages!