The changes that Google have made over recent months have revolutionised how people are able to search the internet, or at least it should do when users finally take notice and understand how powerful the tool now is. With just a few clicks, businesses can monitor what is being said about them, just seconds after it hits the World Wide Web if they need to.
In April 2010, Real-Time Search Results fully came into play and then in June 2010, Google’s new Search Index, Caffeine, was rolled out. Both of these updates bring users the freshest, most relevant and malleable search engine ranking pages that Google has ever presented. Most people I speak to haven’t yet noticed the contextually relevant panel, or ‘left-hand nav’, that appeared in May 2010 and haven’t heard that new features are available. Click on ‘More’ to uncover the drop down lists of vertical searches and then ‘More search tools’ to view the refining tools that are available for the individual types of search.
These are the three new and most significant ways of customising your Google search:
You may want to see if any blogs mention your company, product or campaign, especially if you have recently distributed a piece of news, but this aspect can also be used for research into your industry as a whole. Keeping up to date with what is going on in your line of work can be difficult but finding a few key bloggers or blog sites is sure fire way of learning about current issues. Extend your searches to find out what the current trends are in advertising, for example, or use it to locate writers who might be interested in talking about you or reviewing your product. Tailoring the results by time, from the past ten minutes to your own custom dates, is very helpful if the topic you are interested in isn’t particularly current.
Whether you have a social media PR campaign in place or not, you might be surprised to find how many people mention you, your industry or even your competitors on social media sites. This search mainly brings up results for Twitter, although Facebook and some other sites like Friendfeed are also displayed. You will be able to find yourself potential new followers by using this tool and because many people won’t use a hashtag, or your preferred hashtag, in Twitter it means you can keep abreast of what is being said. Social networking sites work on real-time and now so do these new search results. The default setting is ‘Latest’ and although you can choose to view ‘Anytime’ results, the time line chart at the top of the page is the most useful part of the tool as well as the coolest gadget. You can easily see heightened levels of activity, the longer the blue line the more people were talking about the term you searched for, zoom to any point and basically replay the real-time updates, extremely handy if you’re working on a global scale across various time zones.
This function displays results from forums and also sites where people are invited to join in, like Yahoo Answers and also interestingly includes MySpace. Not only can you sort the results by time but also to only show forums or question and answer sites. If you haven’t got time to look at each one in turn you can activate the page preview or also custom the results to only show short, medium or long posts. This is all particularly useful to businesses who want to undertake more direct engagement. As with the updates, you might find people who are talking about your business or product in a negative way, in which case you have the heads up and you can do something to smooth things over. Getting involved in interesting discussions about your industry might lead participants to choose you over a competitor or they might not have even heard of your business before.