As a very belated follow-up to Google personalised searches and the ‘echo chamber’ effect?, an earlier post where I worried that google searches might be creating cliques on-line, I ought to let my readers know that you can go some way to mitigating this using the verbatim search feature.
First bring up a search with the left-hand side bar of search options. A ‘fresh’ google page doesn’t show the search tools. Just start typing, the search box will move up to the top and the left-hand bar of tools will appear. (Personally, I would rather they had simply presented the full toolset from the get-go, but “whatever”.)
Click ‘More search tools’. A list of options appears; the last is ‘verbatim’ (shown to the right).
What does verbatim mode searching do?
Basically, it switches off some of google’s assistance,* such as
- making automatic spelling corrections
- personalizing your search by using information such as sites you’ve visited before
- including synonyms of your search terms (matching “car” when you search [automotive])
- finding results that match similar terms to those in your query (finding results related to “floral delivery” when you search [flower shops])
- searching for words with the same stem like “running” when you’ve typed [run]
- making some of your terms optional, like “circa” in [the scarecrow circa 1963]
The one relevant to my previous article is the second, search personalisation.
It’s nice to know that you can get raw, unadultatered searches should you wish to. (I guess we can still be concerned that many (most?) people will not be aware of this.)
Don’t forget that you lose all of the assistance – there’s no selecting which ones you’d like to have available.
Occasionally I’ve found it useful to use other nation’s google engines.
You’ll find you get country-specific results that can give some get some insight into how those from nations reading on-line might be viewing a topic.**
This doesn’t work for all nations unfortunately. In particular, I’m not aware of a way to search the US site if that is your choice. If I enter ‘google.com’ in the browser location bar, google redirects this to the New Zealand page, google.co.nz and google.com.us is a dead-end.
You can get use the google sites of some non-US countries, however. Choosing to use, say, google.co.uk works just fine.
Other country codes can be found here.
* Or ‘assistance’ if you think of it that way.
** Take care not to over-reach, of course.
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