I thought it might be fun to build on my recent Twitter search operators and FriendFeed search filtering posts with another set of search tips. This time, I’ll be talking about getting more out of Google Blog Search with a few tips, tricks and hacks.
First, let’s cover a couple of differences between Google Blog Search and the standard Google search along with a few of its advantages. I use these two search engines in very different ways. When I need some piece of information, I use the standard Google search. I use Google Blog Search to monitor information, or to find the newest results for a particular query.
Google Blog Search has a few additional features over standard Google search that make it perfect for monitoring:
- Limited to blogs. This is the “well, duh” difference.
- RSS feeds. This is the key for me. Blog Search has RSS feeds. For anyone familiar with my previous posts, you know that I am an RSS junkie, so I love having RSS feeds available for my searches.
The Advanced Blog Search page has several interesting options that you will find useful in addition to the standard options found in most search engines (AND, OR, exact phrase, etc.)
- Words in the post title. This option is a great way to increase the relevance for your search when searching for common words, by limiting searches to posts that have the search terms in the post title. I tend to use it when searching for topics about RSS or Twitter, for example, since many blog posts mention them in the text of the post, even when the post is actually about some other topic.
- Words in the blog title or at a specific URL. I use these searches almost daily to search a particular blog for a specific article or to see what they have written on a certain topic. While most blogs have a built-in search engine, I generally don’t want to navigate to the blog to type in a search, especially since the search engines used by many blogs aren’t as good or as fast as Google.
- By author. This is a great way to narrow the results if you are looking for something written by a particular author, especially on some of the larger multi-author blogs.
This is one of my favorite Google search tips, since it finds incoming links to any URL. I use it to find when people link to one of my posts, especially when they don’t use my name or the name of my blog, which would show up in one of my other vanity feeds. Here’s how it works:
- link:fastwonderblog.com — finds links to my personal blog, fastwonderblog.com
I also have a couple of caveats with this one. When some blogs link to my web site in a sidebar, it will show up as a new link for every single new post on that blog, even though the text of the blog post doesn’t link to my web site. This can generate a considerable number of false positives when a prolific blogger links to a web site in a sidebar and you get a new search result for every single post they publish. It is also worth mentioning that while I love to use this operator, I don’t think it is officially supported by Google.
More RSS Results
As I mentioned earlier, I am a self-confessed RSS junkie. I take various search results from different Google searches, and use Yahoo Pipes to construct the searches using lists of keywords with some additional filtering on content and removing duplicate results. Google defaults to RSS feeds with only 10 items, which is fine for low volume queries, but it just isn’t enough for higher-volume searches. The only way I have found to change the number of results in the RSS feed is by tweaking the variable in the URL.
By default, the RSS feed with 10 items will look something like this one. I’ve simplified it by removing any optional parameters to make it easier to read.
Here’s a version where I have tweaked the “num” variable to show 50 results:
Many of the search options that I discussed above are also available in the standard Google search, but I tried to focus on the ones that I find most useful when using blog search. You can get a few more advanced search operators out of the Google help pages; however, this unofficial Google guide has many more, and most of them should work with Google Blog Search.
What are your favorite Google Blog Search hacks?