Re: Doing Google Searches
More growth results from making your own effort rather than asking otherstoggle quoted messageShow quoted text
to make the effort for you. I didn't say, don't ask questions.
The material below is eleven years old. Take it for what it's worth and
excuse spelling errors.
Chapter 23 Google As Research Tool
By Michael R. Cross
In the chapter on the internet, I used the Google search engine to download
antivirus and anti-spyware programs, but Google can be used for more general
types of information gathering. This chapter discusses several ways you can
23.1 Basic Searches
There are two basic general-purposed searches, the "Search" button and the
"I'm feeling lucky" button. They both process data that you enter into the
"Search edit:" box. There are also some specialized searches such as the
"Frugal" button. Both types are described in the paragraphs below.
23.1.1 I'm Feeling Lucky Button
If you are absolutely certain that you have the best set of search terms,
and that you only need to look at the page that Google gives the highest
relevancy ranking, then you can activate the "I'm feeling lucky" button.
Since there is only one resulting web site, Google doesn't bother to build a
result list; it just puts the PC cursor inside that web site. As this
happens, JFW will announce the web site's title. For the search query
"University of Texas", activating the "I'm feeling lucky" button connects
immediately to "University of Texas at Austin - Web Central", the official
University of Texas web site.
23.1.2 Search Button
The "Search" button is usually the button most beginners use to kick off
their web searches, and lots of users never use any other button. When you
do, Google generates a result page containing a list of web sites related to
your search query. This list varies according to the search terms with
which you started the search. In fact, even if you simply type the same
search terms but in a different order, the results list could be different.
The pages on the list appear in decreasing order of relevance as determined
by the Google search engine. However, web masters have a little control over
how close to the front of the result list their particular web site appears.
There is a brief discussion of this at the end of this chapter.
There are actually two results lists. The first is a list of web sites that
have paid to be there. Google makes it clear that these are not the actual
search results by putting them under the heading "sponsored links".
Each result in the search results list has four parts. The first is the
actual link. JFW announces it as both a link and a level 2 heading. The
second part is an excerpt from the page itself. This excerpt will contain
your search terms or maybe a synonym of one.
The third part is a line that says, "cached." Google saves snapshots of
pages in its cache. If the site in the results list is currently unavailable
or has been removed from the Web, activate the Cache link immediately below
it. You will connect to the snapshot, which may be an out-of-date version of
Finally, the fourth part is a line that says "similar pages". As its name
suggests, this is a link to sites with similar content.
23.1.3 The Search Edit Box
Life is full of forms, and the web is no different. Conducting a search with
Google begins with filling out a form called the "Search edit:" box. To
start a search for information on any subject, type into this box one or
more words describing what information you are seeking. These words (or
phrases) are referred to as "search terms", and taken collectively they are
called the "search query". The outcome of your search query is a dynamically
generated page called the "result page". It is a page that contains a list
of web sites that Google determines to be related to your search, either
directly or indirectly. The more specific the search terms in your query
are, the more likely the web sites in the result list will contain the
information you seek. Press INSERT+UP ARROW to hear where the PC cursor is
on the Google web site. If it isn't on the "Search edit" box, press the
letter F to move to it. This keystroke actually moves the PC cursor to the
next form on the page, but since it is the only form on the page, pressing
the letter F always works. That is, no matter where the cursor is, this
keystroke always relocates it the "Search edit:" box. You can't type any
search terms into this form until you enter "Forms mode. Do that by pressing
the ENTER key. JFW will say, "Forms mode on". Now you can type your search
terms. As you compose queries, stick to lowercase characters because Google
is never case sensitive. In all search queries, it converts uppercase
characters in your search terms to lowercase. So, for example, you may as
well type the word "American" with a leading lowercase 'a'. The results will
be the same whether you do or not. Exit forms mode by pressing the PLUS key
on the numeric keypad. JFW will say, "forms mode off". Next you will tab
down (or maybe up) to a search button and press the SPACEBAR. Google
processes your search, and focus moves to the results page. As discussed in
the previous two sections, the way Google processes the search query depends
on which button you activate.
As stated earlier, supposedly, the most relevant page is at the top of the
list, and in general the more specific the search terms in the "Search
edit:" box, the narrower the scope of the search and the more relevant the
subject matter contained in the web pages given by the result list will be.
Adding another search term to the "Search edit:" box usually narrows the
scope of the search. You want to have enough terms in your search to narrow
the scope of the search, but not so many that Google refuses to process it.
I recommend not having more than eight search terms in your search query.
Depending on the topic you are investigating, your queries may be shorter
and in rare instances longer. Use your intuition, and be prepared to conduct
more than one search to achieve the result you want. Activating the "Search"
button moves the PC cursor to the "Sign in" link on the search results page.
To see the links that Google flagged as being objects of your search, you
will have to cursor down to the results list.
188.8.131.52 Constructing A search Query
There are some basic rules to follow when composing a set of search terms.
Don't include words or phrases that are vague. Be brief and to the point
rather than wordy. For example, don't type, "help for people that can't
see". It would be better to type "blind employment" or "Blind
rehabilitation" or "Blind independent living" or "Blind travel skills".
Your search term should include nouns, especially place names or titles.
Also include any adjectives that distinguish the topic or object being
sought. Google will put the web sites that are described by all your search
terms early in the results list. As you cursor down through a list, you
start encountering sites that are described by some but not all your search
terms. You might also encounter web sites that didn't contain one of your
search terms but one of its synonyms instead. When this happens, the synonym
will be highlighted in the excerpt of text below that link in the result
list. This means more to people who are watching the screen as well as
listening to JAWS read.
Avoid putting conjunctions, prepositions, and articles in a search query,
for example, the words "and", "but", "from", "to", "in", "into", "a", "an",
and "the". Google will also ignore common words such as "where" and "how".
Also avoid single digits and single letters; they don't help the search. If
Google omitted a word in your search query, you will find a message about it
on the result page beneath the "search edit:" box. For example, I typed the
search query "into every life some rain must fall". Google ignored the
preposition "into". Here's a portion of the result page.
into every life some rain must fall
Results 1 - 10 of about 1,450,000 for into
Tip: Save time by hitting the return key instead of clicking on "search"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Quotes
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Into each life some rain must fall. ... Each
morning sees some task... - Every man has his secret. ...
www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henrywadsw139003.html - 20k -
Notice a few things. At the end of the line that begins "results 1 - 10 of
1,450,000" are the words "For into". Google ignored "into" the first search
term. There was a surprise! Google supplied the preposition "For". I had
forgotten that "for" was part of the quotation. Google supplied it as one of
the ignored search terms. The fact that "into" didn't appear as part of a
link tells you that the word "into" was left out of the search. The other
search terms appear on lines by themselves and JFW says "link" as you cursor
through them. This tells you that these search terms didn't get left out of
the search. IN contrast, the word "into" did not appear on a line alone and
JFW didn't say it was a link. This means it did get left out of the search.
Remember that Google tries to match your search terms against key words
provided by web site owners. The fact that Google found a match in a
particular web site does not however guarantee that your search terms occur
close together or in any specific pattern on that page. In other words,
there may be a relationship between the search terms in your search query,
but the pages identified by Google as matches don't necessarily contain
those words with the same relationship between them. For example, I entered
the search "blind bus driver". When I looked at the web sites on the result
page, one contained a story about a blind woman riding a bus. The bus driver
who was not blind said something to the blind woman at the end of the story.
My search string implied that the bus driver was blind. However Google
didn't assume that blind was an adjective modifying "bus driver".
In a second search, I typed into the "Search edit:" box the string "blind
bird watching". Among the web sites identified by Google was one containing
a story about a duck blind. Another site had a story about a group of blind
people in natural preserves listening for recognizable birdcalls.
The question arises "is there a way to force Google to look for groups of
words in a specific relationship"? The answer is "yes". In order to force
Google to search for web sites about a blind bus driver, type the search
string "blind bus driver" enclosed in quotation marks. The quotation marks
mean that Google searches for web pages containing the exact phrase rather
than words "blind", "bus", and "driver" which may be scattered throughout
the web page. It must search for the exact phrase "blind bus driver".
184.108.40.206 Search Operators
Google allows you to tell it how to organize and use the search terms in a
search query by including special terms called operators in the query. These
aren't really search terms, and that is indicated by the fact that on the
results page, the operators don't occur on a line thar is a link. Examples
of operators are the word "OR" in upper case and the word "site" followed by
a colon and a website supplied by the user. Here are some of the operators
available to you with either the "I'm feeling lucky" button or the "Search"
220.127.116.11.1 The PLUS Operator
I described above a method for forcing Google to search for pages with an
exact phrase in its contents. There is a second method (although not as
intuitive) of having Google search for an entire phrase. It is to put plus
signs between the search terms in the phrase. The plus signs must be
preceded and followed by spaces. For example the search query "absolute +
power + corrupts + absolutely" works as well as "absolute power corrupts
absolutely" enclosed in quotation marks.
You can apply either one of these methods to force Google to include a term
in your query, even when you aren't looking for an exact phrase. So, if
Google ignored one of your search terms that you think is critical to
getting the results you want, you can force Google to include it in the
search by preceding it with a space and a "+" sign.
18.104.22.168.2 The "OR" Operator
You can search for pages about two or more categories of information using
the "OR" operator. The pages in the results list must satisfy either the
part of the search query that precedes the "OR" operator or the part of the
query that follows the "OR" operator. And in the case where there are two
or more "OR" operators, the pages in the result list must satisfy at least
one of the parts of the query separated by the "OR" operators. Pages that
satisfy every part are also included in the results list. As a test, think
of two categories that you wouldn't expect to appear on the same website.
Try this search query: "tigers OR gardening". As expected, the result list
included links to sites that discussed either tigers or gardening, but not
one listed that discussed both. In the list was the homepage of the Detroit
Tigers. Notice that the word "or" was upper case. If it had been typed as
lower case, it would have been treated as just another search term and not a
directive to the search engine about the relation between parts of the
search query. Try typing it in lower case. You won't get the same results.
In fact, under the "Preferences" link, Google makes a suggestion to you. It
is "Try uppercase "OR" to search for either of two terms. [".As you examine
the results page further, you will notice that the word "or" appears on a
line that isn't identified as a link. So, it got left out of the search.
Actually, it would have been left out of the search whether it were upper or
lower case. If it is upper case; it is an operator, not a search term. If it
is lower case, it is a common word that Google omits from searches.
Next prove to yourself that you can use the "OR" operator more than once in
a query. Type "tigers OR gardening OR planets". What results did you get?
22.214.171.124.3 The Synonym Operator (tilde)
The tilda is another operator that tells Google to search for either the
term or synonym of the term that is preceded by a ~. The use of ~ lets you
construct the broadest possible search query. For example, try the query
"~rehabilitation ~information". I found this interesting website among the
Facts and Statistics for Rehabilitation Engineering and Technology ...
REHABILITATION ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM. (Department of Mechanical
Engineering) ... FACTS AND STATISTICS. VR Status at Referral ...
retp.eng.usf.edu/about_us/facts_and_statistics.htm - 28k -
126.96.36.199.4 The Exclusion Operator (Minus Sign)
Another search operator is the exclusion operator, the minus sign. Suppose
one of your search terms has meanings in more than one area, and you would
like to avoid one or more of those meanings. In your search query, the term
that has multiple meanings should be followed by a minus sign and a meaning
to be excluded. For example, suppose you want to search for pages about
pizza recipes, but not American, Italian, vegan, or vegetarian pizza. The
search query "pizza recipes -American -Italian -vegan -vegetarian" would
give you the results you want.
Notice that you can stack up negative search terms, but if you end up
excluding a long list of meanings, it may be time to rethink your search
strategy. Remember the KISS principle; keep it simple stupid. Don't resort
to the exclusion operator unless a straightforward query failed to give
you the results you wanted. The search query "web surfing" is better than
"surfing -waves -games -beaches -supplies -schools -tours".
188.8.131.52.5 Numerical Range Operator
There is a numerical range operator that looks like an ellipsis but with two
periods only. To search for pages that span a numerical range your search
query should contain two numbers separated by two periods (no spaces).
Don't forget to include a search term indicating units such as pounds or
A search query for screen readers in the price range $10 to $200 would be
"screen readers $10.$200".
184.108.40.206.6 Definition Operator
The definition operator is a little different from those presented so far.
Rather than being an enclosing operator like the quotation marks or a binary
operator like the plus symbol which stands between two parts of the query,
the definition operator is a unary operator meaning that it doesn't stand
between operands (parts of the query). Unary operators are either prefixes
or postfixes. This one is a prefix operator, and it looks like this
"define:". Your search query is the word "define" followed immediately by a
colon and the word or phrase whose definition you are seeking. For example,
to find a definition of the term "Braille", type the search query
"define:braille". Google will display a collection of definitions of
"braille" drawn from different sites around the web. On the day I executed
this search, Google produced the following results:
Definitions of braille on the Web:
List of 9 items
. A system of raised letters. People who are legally blind read by touching
the letters with their fingers.
.A system of raised dots representing the letters of the alphabet,
punctuation and numbers, based on the six patterns of a dice, which enables
blind people to read by touching and to write using an embosser. Invented by
. A tactile code developed by Louis Braille to represent letters of the
alphabet and used by persons with visual impairments. There are several
forms of Braille, including the most common, Literary Braille. Additional
codes have been developed for musical notation, work in math or science, and
Foreign languages have their own codes as well.
. A writing system using a series of raised dots to be read with the fingers
by people who are blind or whose eyesight is not sufficient for reading
material. (See Section 12.9, Braille .)
. for communication with the blind - a code in which patterns of raised dots
represent the letters of the alphabet,
. French educator who lost his sight at the age of three and who invented a
system of writing and printing for sightless people (1809-1852)
. a point system of writing in which patterns of raised dots represent
letters and numerals
. transcribe in Braille
. Braille is a tactile writing system used by blind people. It was invented
by Louis Braille of France who was blinded in a childhood accident. At the
age of 15 he modified a military system for reading orders at night without
showing any light (night writing), inventing Braille. Braille originally
lacked an encoding for the letter W.
Find definitions of braille in:
As an exercise, use this operator to revisit some of the facts given in
chapter 10 about the Internet. Try these queries: "define:DARPA",
"define:HTML", "define:HTTP protocol", and "define:Tim Berners-Lee".
220.127.116.11.7 Site Operator
Google allows you to restrict your search to a specific domain, that is
website. In your search query, type your search terms followed by "site:"
and the name of the website. For example, to get admission information at
the University of Texas at Austin website, your search query should be
18.104.22.168.8 File Type Operator
Your search queries can specify pages containing documents in particular
formats such as "txt", "doc", "pdf", "rft", "html", and others. This is done
using the filetype operator. When you View a page in the result list, you
will be given the option to view the document as HTML. Since the other
document formats can carry viruses, it may be safer to cut and paste the
HTML rather than downloading a document in one of the other formats. Place
the filetype operator at the end of your query followed immediately by a
colon and the format you prefer. Suppose you want to see a 1040 form in PDF
Your search query will be "form 1040 filetype:pdf".
23.2 Advanced Search Button
The "I'm feeling lucky" button and the "Search" button both process the
search query in the "Search edit:" box, but the "Advanced search" button
doesn't. Instead, it sends you to a page whose title is "Advanced search".
The page has several controls giving you much more control over the way
Google processes your search query. You will notice that controls on web
pages are very much like those in the Windows operating system, however You
will notice one difference between controls on an internet website and those
in Windows. On a website not just an edit box requires you to enter forms
mode before setting its value, every control does. Combo boxes etc. all
require entering and exiting forms mode. Depending on what kind of control
you want to exert over the query, you will put different parts of the query
in different controls. There are thirty-three controls falling into nine
areas, some of which have defaults. These defaults are well thought out and
often don't need to be touched at all. You can specify that pages must
satisfy the properties in any or all of these areas.
The first control on the "Advanced search" page is an edit box. The JFW
keystroke INSERT+TAB announces the name of the control. It is "With all of
the words". The search terms you type into this box are required to be on
every page in the results list.
The second control is a combo box with five entries. When you tab to it, JFW
announces the name of the entry that the combo box is set to. It usually
says "combo box 10 results. Its other four values are 20, 30, 40, 50, and
100. To change its value, turn on forms mode by pressing the ENTER key. Use
the up and down arrow keys to move to the value you want, and then exit
forms mode with the PLUS key on the numeric keypad.
The third control is the "Search" button.
The fourth control is an edit box called "With the exact phrase. Whatever
phrase you type into this box is exactly equivalent to the phrase enclosed
in quotation marks in the basic search discussed on 26.3 above. Obviously
you don't need the enclosing quotation marks. This exact phrase will be on
every page in the results list.
The fifth control is an edit box named "With at least one of the words". The
page in the results list will contain at least one of the search terms you
type into this box.
The sixth control is an edit box name "Without the words". The search terms
you type into this box will not be on any of the pages in the results list.
This is like the exclusion operator (minus sign) discussed earlier.
The seventh control is a combo box named "Return pages written in". It has
thirty-seven entries. The first, its default, is "All languages". This
doesn't restrict the result list pages to be in any particular language. As
with any combo box, turn on forms mode and use the up and down arrow keys to
change the value. Press the letter E and the PC cursor jumps to English.
The eighth control is a combo button called "File format. Its first value is
"Only", and the second it "Don't".
The ninth control is a combo box called "Return results with the file
format". It has seven values, the first of which is "Any format". If the
value set in the previous control were "only", then this control specifies
what formats are acceptable for results page. However, if the value of the
previous control were, "Don't", then this control's value specifies what
format are not acceptable for results pages.
The tenth control is a combo box named "Return web pages updated in the".
This is a "fill in the blank" kind of control, and the value set in the
combo box fills in the blank. Its four possible values are "Any time", "past
3 months, "past 6 months", or "past year".
The eleventh control is an edit box named "return web pages containing
numbers between". This is equivalent to the "Numeric range" operator
discussed in 26.3 above.
Type in the first number of the range.
The twelfth control is an edit box for the second number defining the range.
The thirteenth control is a combo box named "return results where my terms
occur". This is another "fill in the blank" control where the values fill in
the blank. The possible values are "anywhere on the page", "in the title of
the page", "in the text of the page", "in the URL of the page", and "in the
links to the page". The first includes all the others.
The fourteenth control is a combo box named "Domain. It has two possible
values "Only" and "Don't". Like a combo box you have already seen above, the
value specified here dictates how to interpret the domain name you type into
the next control, an edit box. The first value means "look only at pages on
the following domain whereas the second value ("Don't") means "Don't look at
pages at the following domain".
The fifteenth control is an edit box named "Return results from the website
or domain". Whatever website address you enter here is interpreted according
to what you specified in the previous control- either accept it or block it.
The sixteenth control is a link named "More information".
The seventeenth control is a combo box name "return results that", and its
two values are "not filtered by license", "free to use or share", "free to
use or share- even commercially", "free to use share or modify", and "free
to use share or modify - even commercially".
The eighteenth control is a link named "more info". It is about the license
The nineteenth control is a combo box named "SafeSearch", and its two
possible values are "no filtering" and "filter using SafeSearch". The
default is "no filtering" If you specify "safesearch", the result pages will
be free of x-rated material.
The twentieth control is an edit box named "Find pages similar to the page".
If you have a page in mind, you can specify what the pages in the "similar
pages" part of the results page will be similar to.
The twenty-first control is the "Search" button that when activated will
start the processing of the "advanced Search" information about your search.
The twenty-second control is an edit box named "find page that link to".
What you type into this edit box is a web address. The results list will
contain pages that link to it.
The twenty-third control is another "Search" button that processes all the
information you entered into the "Advanced Search".
The twenty-fourth control is an edit box named "Book search".
The twenty-fifth control is an edit box named "code search".
Activating this link sends you to the "code search" page. A result in this
case is not a website but rather a file. Depending on what you want, this
file will contain either the definition of a software function, or a
computer program's source code. You can control the search by specifying
file name, computer language (such as C++), and type of license (such as
GPL). In addition, you are given more powerful ways in which to specify any
of these things.
In an earlier discussion, I said that the Google search engine didn't assume
a relationship between the search terms you type into the "Search edit:"
box. Remember the example about the query "blind bus driver". In performing
a code search, you can force Google to look for those search terms in a
specific relationship. Your queries take the form of something called
regular expressions. These expressions describe textual patterns within a
document or within a long string of text. The search actually opens files
and examines them hunting for a match to the regular expression you
specified. The searches described earlier in this chapter hunted for a
match within a database entry for a website. The site itself isn't
searched. This is a big difference. Obviously regular expressions have no
place in the website searches. The programmers in the reading audience can
look into the details for themselves, and for everyone else, this is more
than enough said on the topic.
The twenty-sixth control is an edit box named "Google scholar".
The twenty-seventh control is an edit box named "Google news archive".
Activating this button links to the "News archive Search" page. This is good
for historians and those writing a historical novel. The edit box "Create a
timeline which shows selected results from relevant time periods" is where
you specify what historical event you are investigating. For example, type
"Berlin wall". Then tab to either the "Search archive" button or to the
"Show timeline" button and activate it. The results page is fairly
straightforward. Some of the articles have an associated cost, but most are
free. Have fun researching.
The twenty-eighth, twenty-ninth, and thirtieth controls are "Apple Macintosh
link", "BSD Unix link", and "Linux link". These controls are off topic and
won't be discussed.
The thirty-first control is "Microsoft link". Although this is very much on
topic, it won't be discussed.
The thirty-second control is "U.S. Government link". This is a very large
topic and won't be covered here.
The thirty-third and last control is "Universities link".
23.3 Two More Important Searches
It is important to be familiar with two more types of searches. The first
deals with searches producing an overwhelming number and variety of results.
It is a search within a search. The second, although interesting to all
readers, will be especially valuable for education and research. It is a
23.3.1 Search Within Results
Earlier I gave an example of having too many exclusion operators in a search
query. Here's a better approach. Suppose my original search query had been
simply "surfing". My results page has lots of links for ocean surfing and
other topics too. There is a link on the results page close to the bottom
called "Search within results". Bring up a links list with INSERT+F7 and
type the word "search". By the time you strike the letter A, focus will have
jumped to "Search within results". Press the ENTER key and you will find a
blank results page with a form field called "Search within results edit".
The search term you type here produces a results page extracted from the
current results page. For example, in the "Search with results edit:" box,
type "internet". The next results page won't contain any of the links to
ocean surfing pages.
23.3.2 Book Searches
Google also helps you find books on a specific subject. For example, you can
enter "books about blindness." At the top of the Search results page, you'll
get a list of book results. Click on the Book results header to get a
complete list. Or, an abbreviated list appears below it.
When I executed this query, I got the following results. This is only a
Learn About Blindness
Find resources, research updates,
treatments & clinical trial info.
Books for the blind
Search our collection of more than
28,000 Braille and talking books.
Tip: Save time by hitting the return key instead of clicking on "search"
Perkins School for the Blind: Nonfiction Books About Blindness
Do You Remember the Color Blue: And Other Questions Kids Ask About
Blindness. East Rutherford, N.J.: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers,
www.perkins.org/subsection.php?id=131 - 10k -
BOOKS ABOUT BLINDNESS AND GUIDE DOGS
Walking With Smokie, Walking With Blindness By Rod Michalko Book Cover ...
BOOKSTORE: Books on guide dogs, blindness, puppy training & raising. ...
www.guidedogsofamerica.org/books.html - 28k -
Amazon.com: Blindness (Harvest Book): Books: Jose Saramago
Amazon.com: Blindness (Harvest Book): Books: Jose Saramago by Jose Saramago.
www.amazon.com/Blindness-Harvest-Book-Jose-Saramago/dp/0156007754 - 154k -
Mar 17, 2007 -
As an exercise, find books about the history of the world wide web. Use the
search queries: "books about DARPA", "books about World Wide Web", and
"books about Tim Berners-Lee".
23.4 Nonuniqueness Of Search Results
Adding search terms that don't appear on anyone's meta-search list obviously
don't help. In fact, it would insure that the results page is empty, because
Google only puts a web site on the results list if that site satisfied all
your search terms. Obviously you can't know what is on any web site's
Neither Google nor any other search engine is exclusively responsible for
the search results. Otherwise search engines would have to examine an entire
web site to determine its relevance to your search. This would be so time
consuming that it would bring everything to a screeching halt. Instead, each
site's web master decides how he or she wants to advertise the site to
search engines like Google. The key words and phrases picked out go into a
list of terms called "metasearch terms". Search engines collect these
meta-search terms from websites and store them in their databases. Then when
you perform a search, Google uses its database to build a results page. It
doesn't visit any website while building a result page. This is much faster
than trying to evaluate an entire site. Websites have to apply to be
included in Google's search engine database, and there are rules to be
followed if a webmaster wishes his site to remain there.
There are three factors that make it likely that a Google search performed
today may generate different results than the same query performed a year
from now. First new websites are added to Google's database. Secondly, some
websites are removed from it. Thirdly, websites update their meta-search
terms. All search engines periodically go through their list of subscribing
websites, evaluating website content and updating their own databases.
23.5 Google Accessible Search
There are two web pages you should try for a more blind friendly experience.
The first is: "http://www.google.com/ie";. This version of the Google Search
page is for use on Personal Digital Assistant devices, PocketPC, and mobile
phones. They have screens necessitating abbreviated results pages. This
means only page titles and no accompanying description text. This is very
attractive to many blind users.
There is a "Search edit:" box and a "Search" button just as in the standard
Google search. I executed the search query "lime marmalade recipes" with the
following results page:
lime marmalade recipes
I'm Feeling Lucky
Marmalade Recipes - Home Cooking
Lime Marmalade Recipe - Home Cooking
Lime Marmalade Recipe | Recipezaar
Lime Marmalade Recipe - Jellies and Jams Recipes
SURE.JELLR Lime Marmalade Recipe
Nikibone.com - Marmalade Recipes
Cooks.com - Recipes - Lime Marmelade
Astray Recipes: Lime marmalade
Guidelines for Marmalade Making > ABC Melbourne > Recipes
Lime Marmalade Recipe
The simplicity of the result page layout is very refreshing. There are no
lines saying "Similar" or "cached" pages. Since I hardly ever activate them,
their absence doesn't bother mea a bit. When I searched with the query
""http://www.google.com/e, the first website on the result page had the
following comment under it: Bare-bones interface which returns only page
titles. The website itself had only a "Search edit:" box, a "Search" button,
and an "I'm feeling lucky" button.
The second Google search page you should investigate is at
"http://labs.google.com/accessible/";. It performs a search whose results
rank sites high that are blind friendly. When Google gets a site's
meta-search terms, it also evaluates its HTML source code. A good
evaluation earns that website a high accessibility ranking. This accessible
search puts the inaccessible pages at the bottom of the results list. So,
you can still get to them; they are just not presented at the top of the
results list. The result pages are less cluttered than the result pages on
the standard Google search page. That in itself is a big help to the blind.
Generally, what considerations go into an accessibility ranking? The pages
that get high marks are those that "degrade gracefully"- meaning pages that
would display well with graphics disabled. For the partially sighted user,
the screen shouldn't be cluttered with cute but nonessential images. In
fact, images are baggage. If images must be present, they should have text
labels called ALT tags. More important are keystrokes and page structure.
Can you do everything by keystroke that others can do with a mouse? Are the
major sections of a page organized by headings at different levels? If the
answer to these two questions is yes, finding the information of interest on
a page will be much easier. I never go back to pages that trap you. They
disable keystrokes like BACKSPACE and ALT+LEFT ARROW that allow you to
return to the previous page. These web sites should be thrown out of
Google's search database. The last straw is when you can't even turn on the
JAWS cursor and simulate a left mouse click on the "Close" button at the
right end of the title bar.
Since the JFW configuration manager allows you to disable graphics and
inline frames, graphics on a page hardly ever bother me (with some important
but rare exceptions). I am more appreciative of the fact that the Google
Accessible Search insures that the pages at the top of the results list
support all the necessary keystrokes. Even using the standard Google search,
most web sites on the results page seem to have a complete keystroke
interface. Google is in a strong position to be an advocate for the
disabled. Its most valuable service to the blind community would be to
insist that all the web sites applying to be included in its search database
must strictly follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Google should
also raise objections to any attempt to change the World Wide Web Consortium
in ways that would prevent accessibility.
C2007 Michael R. Cross . Austin, TX