All posts tagged ‘search’

File Under: Browsers

Firefox 4 Adds Bing to List of Search Engines

Mozilla has announced that Microsoft’s upstart Bing search engine will soon become a default part of Firefox’s search bar. When Firefox 4 arrives it will feature some slight changes to the list of included search engines, offering, in order: Google (default), Yahoo, Bing, Amazon, eBay and Wikipedia.

Bing is a new option, though savvy users have long been able to install a Bing search plugin on their own. Now, it will be much easier to access by clicking on the drop-down list in the browser’s built-in search box.

Microsoft’s search engine continues to make inroads against Google, and while Microsoft has had a search product for years, it’s taken a long time to make its way onto Firefox’s short list. Mozilla vice president of products Jay Sullivan says Bing’s inclusion now is based on its “significant rise in popularity over the past year.”

Google’s engine will still be the default option for Firefox users. Google remains a primary source of income for the Mozilla — the two companies share the revenue generated by Google searches typed from within Firefox’s search box.

The new search engine default list removes the Answers.com and the Creative Commons search engine choices. Answers.com is disappearing because, according to Mozilla, “we have heard from our users that Wikipedia is more useful as an included reference search engine.”

The Creative Commons search engine is being removed because the search tool itself has changed from something that searches just CC licensed materials to a more general search engine that duplicates what’s found in Google, Yahoo and others. Mozilla is careful to point that the foundation “will continue to actively support [the Creative Commons] organization and mission through grants and joint programs,” but not, apparently, its search engine.

Of course users are still free to install any of the thousands of search plugins for the sites they’d like — we’re fans of the Flickr CC search plugin and the Speckly torrent search plugin — but making the default plugins list means more traffic for those lucky sites.

In Bing’s case it also means an important new avenue to perhaps pull a few users away from Google.

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File Under: APIs, JavaScript

Add a Google Search Box to Your Site

Unless you’re incredibly handy at writing complex algorithms, building a search engine for your website is pain. And in the end, yours probably isn’t going to be that great, even after all your hard work. So why bother? Especially when there’s already a reasonably popular search engine by the name of Google — maybe you’ve heard of it? — that’s perfectly willing to handle the job for you.

The Google Search API is not only really good at searching, since it accesses the Google index, but it’s also really easy to use.

The potential for search-based mashups is nearly limitless, too. But in order to learn how it works, we’ll confine ourselves to a much more common use case — a site-specific search engine for your blog.


Continue Reading “Add a Google Search Box to Your Site” »

File Under: Identity, Social

Google Crawlers Now Understand ‘Canonical’ URLs

Migrating a web site from one domain to another is never easy. You’ll probably lose whatever Google ranking your old pages had, possibly break incoming links and generally disrupt the flux capacitor of the web.

Of course, there are occasionally good reasons to move your content and now there are some new ways to let Google know what you’re up to. The Google Webmaster blog recently announced that Google will support the cross-domain rel="canonical" link element. That means you can effectively migrate your site to a new domain even if you don’t have server access to do redirects.

In most cases, Google still suggests that, if possible, you use 301 permanent redirects to point both visitors and search engine bots to your new domain. However, if that’s not possible for some reason, (for example, if you’re migrating from a hosted blog service to your own domain) then you can add rel="canonical" element to your page headers and Google will index the new URL.

Note that in our example — moving from a hosted blogging service to a self-hosted domain — it’s OK if there are some differences between the new and old pages, but the basic content (the blog post) should be the same.

Previously, Google would look down on cases of duplicate content across domains. Given the number of content-stealing “splogs” out there, filtering duplicate content by domains is a good way for Google to stop search engine spam. The problem is there are legitimate reasons to have duplicate content, like migrating a site to a new domain, and now there’s a way to do it.

One important note, Google no longer recommends blocking access to duplicate content on your website, whether with a robots.txt file or other methods. Just use the rel="canonical" tag instead.

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File Under: UI/UX, Web Services

Google Tests Redesigned Search Page

Google’s new look? The search giant is testing a revamped results page. Click the image for a larger view.

Google appears to be testing a possible redesign of its iconic search page. Whether or not the new prototype will ever become official remains unknown, but thanks to some clever JavaScript you can check out the new look today.

The Google watchers over at Google Blogoscoped have found a snippet of JavaScript you can paste into your browser’s URL field which will activate the new look. Because the JavaScript code sets a new cookie, you’ll most likely need to log out of your Google account before it works.

Once the cookie is set, refresh the Google homepage and you’ll see the changes. The search buttons have become blue and the overall look is a bit like that of Google Wave. More significant is the redesigned search results page (seen above) which features an always-on sidebar for narrowing search results by type, date and view.

The brighter, more Wave-like look of the prototype doesn’t bother us, but we’re not so sure about the sidebar, especially given that the same options are already available in the infinitely more compact menu that runs along the top of the page.

There is one new search option in the sidebar that you won’t find on the current Google page — the ability to see results from online forum sites.

The good news, should the new look utterly disgust you, is that so far Google hasn’t even mentioned the new look (and had not responded to our inquires when this story was published) let alone taken any steps toward making it official. Given Google’s track record of beta testing, we suspect the redesign will be thoroughly and publicly tested before it goes live, if in fact it ever does.

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File Under: Identity, Web Services

Google Dashboard: One Service to Rule Them All

If you’ve ever wanted to see all the Google services you use — and how you’re using them — in one spot, then the new Google Dashboard is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Google Dashboard is a one-stop shop for browsing through of almost all the Google services you’re using and, by extension, shows you everything Google knows about you. The nice thing about the new dashboard is that it gives you central way to manage and control that data — change privacy settings, control sharing and limit what data Google stores about you.

Each service listed in your dashboard contains an overview of your usage and links to change any data-sharing settings, edit any associated profiles and control who can see what. For example, the Google Reader entry in the dashboard shows a summary of your feeds, starred items and followers, and includes handy links to control your sharing settings.

There’s nothing in dashboard that can’t be found within the individual services themselves, but navigating through dashboard is considerably easier than trying to do the same on a service-by-service basis.

That said, Dashboard has a few quirks. For example my dashboard says I’m sharing a photo album on Orkut, but in fact it’s just the default album associated with my Orkut account, and it doesn’t actually have an photos in it. Ditto for my Picasa account.

Dashboard doesn’t currently offer any transparency about how your data is being used by Google for advertising or user-behavior data-collection purposes. It also offers little info about how (or how long) your data is being stored. It would also be nice if the Dashboard gave you a nice link to export all your data for each Google service. Eventually we’re hoping Google’s Data Liberation Front will fix that oversight and integrate some exporting tools directly into Dashboard.

Dashboard doesn’t currently support every Google service, though it does cover the most popular tools. The big omissions are Maps and Groups, though Dashboard does at least offer links to the services it doesn’t track.

To access the new Dashboard features, just click the My Account link in any Google service and then look for the new Dashboard link. Alternately you can head directly to the new Dashboard URL: https://www.google.com/dashboard.

To see Dashboard in action, check out the following video from Google:

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