Introduction: Background and Use
In this chapter, I will be covering another one of Google’s many useful tools, the blog search. It is a specialized search that works similarly to the regular Google Search, except all of the results generated are supplied by specific blog entries or blogs in their entirety. Google lists blogs or blog pages on the Google Blog Search only if they provide an RSS or Atom Feed that is detectable. Having easy access to these blogs provides an additional source of information that can be used to provide a more comprehensive look on whatever topic you may be interested in. You can use this tool if you want a more subjective look on a topic or if you want to gauge general public opinion on the issue. For example, if you needed to generate a positive and negative argument on global warming, you can search independently for positive and negative blogs on the topic. Plus, blogs tend to offer a more personal look on a topic versus more objective results that you will get doing a general web search. In this chapter, I will cover how to access the tool, use it, and give you my personal experiences with it.
Introduction: Accessing Google Blogs
There are three ways to access Google Blogs: 1) You can access the search option directly by going directly to the url: http://www.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en. 2) You can also enter your search query into any other Google Search and select “more (A)” and then “blogs (B)” (Figure 1)
3) The third way is to go to the Google Search homepage, click on the “more (A)” tab at the top, select “even more, (B)” scroll down to “specialized search,” and then select “blog search (C)” (Figure 2)
Instructions: Interface and Basic Use
Google Blog Search is built in the same exact way as every other Google tool. The main page has the same format. The search bar is set in the middle of the, flanked at the bottom by the “Google Search” and “I’m Feeling Lucky” buttons. The search bar does in fact auto populate based upon popular searches and your search history. Figure 3 shows you what it looks like.
Once you enter your search and hit enter, you’ll notice that the results page is split into 2 parts by a thin line. Above that line, the results are drawn from full blogs that match your search query. For example, my query is [Houston Texans], and all of the results above the line on the results page are drawn from blogs featuring “Houston Texans” in the tags for the entire blog. Every result below the line is a specific post tagged with “Houston Texans” either in the title or the content of the post. Figure 4 will show you this.
Google splits this up based on user needs. Generally, a user will select a result from above the line if they wish to check out the entire blog and even consider subscribing to it through an RSS feed (I will cover this later). The results below the line are generally selected if the end user wants just a specific piece of information. In this particular example, a Houston Texans fan may be more apt to pick a result from above the line (the Houston Texans Blog), since they would tend to subscribe to a blog about their team. A casual NFL fan would pick something from the bottom (Houston Texans at Detroit Lions…), since they may just want one blog post about the Texans previewing their Thanksgiving game against the Detroit Lions.
Assuming you don’t exactly know what you want to search, you can always go to the “Advanced Search,” which is under the dropdown menu next to the “Safe Search” toggle button. This may help you create a more specific search if you don’t know how to structure your query. The blog search’s “Advanced Search” is an exact match to the web search’s “Advanced Search,” and if you would like to learn about it, I recommend you go back and read the chapter on “Google Specific Features.” If you want a quick summary, I provide one in the next section.
Instructions: Advanced Search Interface and Use
Here (Figure 5, click image to enlarge), we have the interface for Google Blogs’s “Advanced Search” feature. As you can see, all of the options available on Google’s Web Search “Advanced Search” are available here as well. This holds true since Google is the backbone of both search styles and they standardized the process in order to minimize confusion. Like I said above, “Advanced Search” is really helpful in situations where you don’t know exactly how to phrase your query. “Advanced Search” will take whatever blanks you fill in the form above and construct a query. If you already know what what and how you want to search, this particular feature will provide you minimal benefit, and I wouldn’t bother with it.
Instructions: Filters and Additional Settings
If by chance, you do not like the results you get from just a straight search, you can alter the search results settings just like in a regular Google Web Search. I won’t go into explaining these, since I assume they have been covered in previous chapters, and you, as a reader, have previous experience with Google.
1) Change the Safe Search filter between on/off
2) Change the number of results per page
3) Change the language of your results
4) Adapt your results based on your current location
5) Change the time frame from when the blog results are from
6) Sort results by date or relevance
7) Filter your results based on blog homepages or blog posts
With these filters, you can access more relevant results. For example, you can select posts or blogs that are from a certain time period. For example, if I wanted to find a post on the formation of the Houston Texans team, I would restrict the time frame to the custom range 1/1/2002-12/31/2002. If I wanted a blog result about the Texan’s last game versus Jacksonville, I could either add “Jacksonville” to my original query of [Houston Texans] while changing the time frame to “past week.” I could also change my location to Jacksonville, Florida and change the time range to “past week.” You can play around with these filters and figure out which ones get you the best results. By setting these preferences, you can make the most of your searches.
Instructions: Additional Tools
At the bottom of any results page, you will find a list of options as seen on Figure 6.
Here is the function of each one of those links:
1) Email Alerts:
With this tool, you can have emails sent to your inbox whenever the results for your search query update. You can change how often you receive updates: a) as updates happen, b) once a day, or c) once a week. You can change what triggers the results: a) only when the best results change or b) when any new result pops up. Also, you can set which email address these alerts are sent to. Just hit “create alert” whenever you have your settings in place. As you can see in these picture, I have alerts coming in one a day to my Yahoo email, only if the best results are updated.
2) Add Search to iGoogle:
This is pretty self-explanatory. Google provides a personal page for each user called an iGoogle, and by clicking this link, you can add the search query to your iGoogle page for quick reference. This would come in handy if you wanted to have the search on hand with all of your iGoogle widgets.
3) Subscribe to a Feed in Google Reader:
If you like the results Google Blog Search returns for a query, you can add the search to an RSS feed reader like Google Reader. When you click on this option at bottom of the page, the above picture pops up on your screen. All you have to do is press subscribe, and it will be added to your Reader. This is a great tool if you want to stay current on a topic and keep up with recent developments.
4) Atom/RSS Options:
This really provides minimal benefit for the user. All it does is allow you to see the feeds that Google Blog Search pulls from.
If you are just looking for one-time information on these queries, none of the tools in this section really apply to you. However, for those of us who want to stay up to date on certain topics, these tools provide great opportunities and are relatively simple to use. For example, as a fan of the Texans, I want to get up to date recaps on their games, injury reports, video news coverage etc. I would set up an RSS feed and email alerts to let me know when breaking news became available. That way I can keep track of my team without having to search multiple websites.
Comparison with Google Web Search:
Obviously, Google Blog Search is built very similar to its Web Search. All of the same search operators that apply for Web Search work on Blog Search. There are a few Blog Search specific ones that I will highlight below:
1) Inblogtitle: Google Blog Search will locate blogs that have whatever terms are placed directly after the operator in the title of the blog. (Ex: [inblogtitle:”houston texans”] will return blog results that have Houston Texans in the title of the overall blog).
2) Inposttitle: Google Blog Search will locate blog posts that have whatever terms are placed directly after the operator in the title of the blog post. (Ex: [inposttitle:”houston texans”] will return blog post results that have Houston Texans in the title of the post).
3) Inpostauthor: Google Blog Search will locate blog posts that have whatever name(s) is (are) placed directly after the operator as the author of the post. (Ex: [inpostauthor:”Paul Kuharsky”] will return blog post results that have Paul Kuharsky as the author of the blog post. Kuharsky is ESPN’s NFL blogger on the AFC South).
4) Blogurl: Google Blog Search will locate blog posts that have whatever url is placed directly after the operator in the url of the blog or blog post. (Ex: [Houston Texans blogurl:espn.com] will return blogs and blog post results that are related to the Houston Texans AND are from espn.com).
The addition of these particular search operators help in navigating through all of the results pages so that you, as a user can find exactly what you are looking for.
1) Provides more specialized search in comparison to Google Web Search:
This allows information to be a bit more specific and cut down on unrelated results. Blogs also tend to be more skewed, and so, the results provide a different viewpoint on each query, which can result in more information that you wouldn’t normally get from a general web search.
2) Allows for direct connection to RSS feed and email alerts:
This allows the end user to stay up to date on news, and it keeps all of your useful and relevant links organized. This direct connection will bring new articles from your saved blog search to your feed reader or inbox directly, saving you time and effort.
1) Not comprehensive:
According to a Bloomberg review of Google Blog Search, Google’s tool lacks depth in its results. Apparently, BusinessWeek detected that not all of its blog posts pop up on Google Blog Search. Obviously, Google Web Search is known for being thorough and comprehensive. Blog Search seems to deviate from that.
2) No Knowledge Graph:
In Google Web Search, Knowledge graphs are a useful sidebar tool that provides a quick summary of your query. Unfortunately, Google Blog Search has not taken that feature and made it a part of the specialized search option.
3) Limited Filters in Comparison: (Figure 7)
Compared with the Web Search, Google Blog Search does not have as many filters for search queries.
Figure 7: Top Section-Web Search/Bottom Section- Blog Search
As you can see from figure 7, the Web Search has a filter for much more of its results than Blog Search. This allows a user to better organize Web Search results. This isn’t to say that Blog Search results are disorganized, but it would go a long way if Google added some similar filters to its Blog Search feature.
The downsides we saw above will generally be characteristic of blog searches. Since they are so specialized and draw from a smaller data pool, they will not have as many functions/filters to work with. Since Google is the backbone of both of these search features, there really isn’t much difference between the two besides content and filters. This shouldn’t be entirely surprising. They have the same search operators, minus a few specific ones for Blog Search. Ultimately, both services have the same Google reliability and speed, which sets them apart from competitors like Yahoo for the Web Search and Technorati for the Blog Search.
Recommendations and Final Thoughts:
Google Blog Search is definitely a service I would recommend over other competitors such as IceRocket and Technorati. It combines Google’s known reliability and speed with a blog search, allowing Google Blog Search to be one of the top services in the industry.
Blog Search would really come in handy if you were looking for a more subjective take on a query, whether that be an opinion, evaluation, etc. You can use a blog search to keep up with fashion, sports, exercise trends, or just general political news. Obviously, these aren’t the only uses, but you get the idea. What really makes Blog Search handy is its ability to connect to an RSS feed and utilize email alerts. The ability to stay up to date on a search is really the main plus of Google Blog Search. You can subscribe to current events and have everything come to you as opposed to carrying out five or ten different searches or checking multiple websites.
In comparison to Web Search, Blog Search does provide more specialized information, and because of that, there are less search results to comb through. This can be both good and bad. The good is that there is less time spent developing an overly specific query and more time spent reading and researching. The bad is that having a smaller database to choose from may lead to omission of some more detailed information. Blog Search would be more useful in queries you are trying to develop a basic knowledge in since you won’t need a very specific query to get information, and you won’t have to comb through hundreds of thousands of extraneous Web Search results. If you are looking for very detailed information, use Web Search since you can structure a very specific query that can draw from a large database of results.
Google’s Blog Search is a powerful tool that can really come in handy; however, it is up to you, the reader, to decide which blog service will work best for you. The next few chapters will cover Technorati, IceRocket, and Regator, all of which are blog search tools with their own merits. Regardless of which service you do choose, I advise you to adopt one of the blog search engine tools due to the unique information they present and their up to date content.
Google Blog Search, http://www.google.com/blogsearch- Used for the chapter photo at the top.
Google Blog Search, http://bit.ly/RIdU8V- Used for figure 1, which shows how the reader can navigate toward Google Blogs
Google Web and Google Products, http://www.google.com and http://bit.ly/mMAzSF- Used to construct figure 2, which shows another way the reader can navigate toward Google Blogs
Google Blog Search, http://www.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en- Used for figure 3, which gives the reader a look at the main interface of Google Blog Search
Google Blog Search, http://bit.ly/TI8UNi – Used for figure 4, which shows the main results page for Google Blogs and how it is split into two parts (home pages versus posts)
Google Blog Search, http://bit.ly/TPRejg – Used for figure 5, which takes a look at the advanced search option in Google Blog Search
Google Blog Search, http://bit.ly/VoUamd – Used for figure 6, which shows the various additional functions Google Blog Search provides
Google Email Alert, http://www.google.com/alerts?t=4&q=houston+texans&hl=en – Used to show how readers can set up and create email alerts through blog search.
Google Reader, http://bit.ly/QNZNgV- Used to demonstrate how readers could use Google Reader to optimize blog searching
Google Blog Search and Google Web, http://bit.ly/XA8wXe and http://bit.ly/VD1lgD – Used to construct figure 7, which shows limitations in Google Blogs’s search filters vs. Google Web’s
Bloomberg Businessweek, http://buswk.co/TKl1wA – Used to provide information on weakness of Google’s Blog Search depth
Google Blog Search, http://www.google.com/blogsearch- Used for the chapter photo at the end.
About the Author:
Rajesh Reddy is a BBA Junior in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. Originally from Texas, Rajesh enjoys a lot of warm weather activities such as swimming, kayaking, and grilling on the beach. He also loves playing sports, reading, and long walks on the beach (of course, that’s more like long walks on the snow and ice here in Ann Arbor). Currently, Rajesh loves the University of Michigan, especially football Saturdays in the Big House. He hopes you, the reader, enjoys this chapter and actually gains as much from reading this as he did while writing it,