Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cached Pages in Google Search Results

Google has removed the cached page link from the search results page.  Until last week, it used to appear with every link in the search results.  In its place, if you hover your cursor over a search result, you will notice two arrows in a light gray box appear.   

Click on the arrows in the box, and you will see a preview thumbnail of the website along the new location for the link for the cached site.

I use a website cache for many reasons:
  • On cached pates, each search term is highlighted instantly and in a different color making keywords easy to find especially on long pages. 
  • Cached pages load faster. 
  • Cached pages are available for pages that are altered, deleted, hard to load, or firewalled. 
  • Cached pages are available for pages that are updated frequently such as forums, blogs, and news, many times taking me to the page that has moved on that contains the search items.

Once you try using cached pages for the above reasons, you may find them useful, also.

To me, Google's "Instant Preview" of a website is pretty much useless.  It's too slow to load and too small to read except perhaps the title.   I'm always accidently clicking on it - it gets in my way while viewing the search results page.   And with a pop-up blocker turned on or javascript disabled, you may not even be able to see the arrows.  But that is now where you have to get the link to see cached results.

I find the new method to click on the link for cached pages user-unfriendly.  Now, there are two extra steps to use the cached links.  First, you must hover over the result to make the arrows appear and then click on the instant preview arrows and wait for the "instant preview" to appear (which on my computer isn't always instant). Then click on the cached link.  Much more time consuming to get a link for something I consider very useful and necessary. 

I'm sorry to see Google making such user-unfriendly decisions recently - see Google Removes the + Search Operator.  The great search results and interface simplicity are what drew me to Google years ago.  Cached pages are one thing that makes Google unique - Bing and Yahoo don't have links for cached pages.

Google is always on a quest for greater search speed hence Google Instant  which shows results as you type and Google says takes 2 to 5 seconds off each search.  It surprises me that they would then make two changes  in one week that makes things slower on the user end.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Google Removes the + Search Operator

Google has just recently removed the + search operator and replaced it with quotation marks functionality.  Instead of placing the Google + operator before a single word that you want to appear in your search results as-is, you now must add quotation marks around the word.  Quotation marks have always worked to give exact results for a phrase, but they now also give exact results for a single word.

If you search using the + operator, you will get a message that says:

The + operator has been replaced.
To search for an exact word or phrase, use double quotation marks

When asked why the + functionality was removed, a Google employee replied:
 "We've made the ways you can tell Google exactly what you want more consistent by expanding the functionality of the quotation marks operator. In addition to using this operator to search for an exact phrase, you can now add quotation marks around a single word to tell Google to match that word precisely. So, if in the past you would have searched for magazine +latina, you should now search for magazine "latina".  "

I'm not sure I see this as an improvement - it will now take two keystrokes to replace one, and I have to remember not to do something that has become second nature to me during my searches.

How does this affect genealogy searches?  Well, now if  I want to search for any word, including surnames, and get exact results, I must use quotation marks.  For example to search for the surname Meyer without getting results that also show Mayer, Myers, and other spelling variations, I must now search for the surname in quotes.  "Meyer"  

It almost seems counter-intuitive to have to tell Google that you want to search for an exact word, after all, isn't that what you expect when you enter a keyword?  But if you remember that Google does synonym searches, it becomes easier to remember that you have to tell it when you want an exact search.  Sometimes getting spelling variations and synonyms in search results is a good thing as it broadens your results and helps you find things you might not otherwise find, but there are time when only exact spelling results are appropriate.

I just hope Google doesn't do away with any other operators such as the minus sign and the OR operator.  So far, they are still working.  Check out the Easy Google Genealogy Searcher for other ways to use Google.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

15 Days of Free Databases 15th Anniversary Sweepstakes 15th Anniversary Sweepstakes

Starting October 1st, will celebrate its 15th Anniversary with 15 days of free databases and a sweepstakes giveaway with prizes awarded everyday!  

Each day for the next 15 days a new database will be opened for free.  And each day day a new prize is awarded.

The Sweepstakes Grand Prize will be a trip to California to go behind the scenes of an episode of Who Do You Think You Are, meet Executive Producer Lisa Kudrow, the celebrity guest, and see how the show is made.

PLUS, have a variety of daily prizes throughout the promotion!

Now this is one contest that really interests me.  I would love to go behind the scenes of an episode of Who Do You Think You Are to see how the show is made.

Enter Here to Win Daily Prizes