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While the search engines are getting better at serving results, the sheer volume of information available is growing as well. With Google recently announcing they index nearly 1 trillion unique URLs, it can be a challenge to find the information you are looking for.
Learning how to craft your queries can certainly help but wouldn’t it be nice to have a search assistant that could look ahead in your results and grab the ones that are most likely to be useful to you. That’s what Surf Canyon promises.
Surf Canyon is a browser extension for Firefox and IE that customizes and personalizes your search results on the fly. Currently compatible with Google, Yahoo!, MSN Live Search and Craigslist, Surf Canyon seamlessly integrates itself into your results pages. There are no sidebars, toolbars, or new windows required. Other than an unobtrusive bullseye added to your initial results, you’ll hardly even know it’s there.
The bullseye is the key though. Click on it or the result that is most relevant and Surf Canyon automatically works to filter or refine your results, bringing more relevant items directly to the existing search page. Keep clicking to refine your results even further, up to 3 levels deep.
The example search term they use to demonstrate Surf Canyon is “Dolphins”, a term where the desired result could either mean the football team or the marine mammal. Selecting a preliminary result either way will bring forward results that are more appropriate for you.
While Surf Canyon does seem to work best for those queries that are somewhat ambiguous, overall I found the results generally useful, or easily ignored. Like any good assistant, it’s right there waiting if I need it but has the good sense to stay out of my way if I am managing on my own.
I guess the way I know that Surf Canyon is useful to me is that I notice the lack of the bullseye on machines where it isn’t installed. I don’t realize how much I use it, but in a short period of time it has become a part of my search process and I find I miss the functionality it brings when it isn’t available.
Surf Canyon is a free download – so if you use Firefox or Internet Explorer I recommend you give it a shot.
How do you find relevant results to your web queries? How would you rate the effectiveness of your searching?