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If you think a search engine exists as an index to the internet, it’s time to update your thinking.

This column is not about politics. It makes no political judgments and takes no political positions. No, really! Stay with me here.

President Trump this week slammed Google, claiming that the company “rigged” Google News Search results to favor stories and news organizations critical of the president.

To drive home his claim about bias, Trump posted a video on Twitter this week with the hashtag #StopTheBias (which, at the time I wrote this, had 4.36 million views), claiming that Google promoted President Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses, but stopped the practice when Trump took office.

In a statement issued to the press, a Google spokesperson said that the company did not promote on its homepage either Obama’s or Trump’s first “State of the Union” addresses because technically they are considered mere “addresses to a joint session” of Congress, the idea being that brand-new presidents are not in a position to reveal the “state of the nation.” Google also claimed that it did promote Trump’s second and most recent State of the Union, a claim that screenshots found on social media and pages captured by the site Wayback Machine appear to confirm.

The facts around this incident are being funneled into ongoing, rancorous online political debates, which, in my opinion, isn’t particularly interesting.

What is interesting is the Big Question this conflict brings to the surface.

What is a search engine?

A search engine can be four things.

  • An index to the internet

When Google first launched its search engine in 1996, it was clear what a search engine was: an index of the internet.

Google’s killer innovation was its ability to rank pages in a way that was supposed to reflect the relative relevance or importance of each result.

Both the results and the ranking were supposed to be a reflection or a snapshot of the internet itself, not an index to the information out there in the real world.

  • An arbiter of what’s true

In this view, Google Search would favor information that’s objectively true and de-emphasize links to content that’s objectively untrue.

  • An objective source of information

The objective source idea is that Google makes an attempt to present all sides of contentious issues and all sources of information, without favoring any ideas or sources.

  • A customized, personalized source of information

The personalized source concept says that a search engine gives each user a different set of results based on what that user wants regardless of what’s true, what’s happening on the internet or any other factor.

This is all pretty abstract, so here’s a clarifying thought experiment.

When someone searches Google to find out the shape of the Earth, how should Google approach that query? It depends on what Google believes a search engine is.

(Note that it’s likely that flat-Earth proponents generate, link to and chatter about the idea that the Earth is flat more than people who believe it’s spherical. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that, objectively, the content and activity on the actual internet favors the flat-Earth idea.)

If a search engine is supposed to be an index to the internet, then search results for the shape of the Earth should favor the flat-Earth idea.

If a search engine is supposed to be an arbiter of what’s true, then search results should favor the spherical-Earth idea.

If a search engine is supposed to be an objective source of information, then search results should provide a balanced result that equally represents both flat- and spherical-Earth theories.

And if a search engine is supposed to be a customized, personalized source of information, then the results should favor either the flat-Earth idea or the spherical-Earth idea, depending on who is doing the searching.

I use the shape of the Earth as a proxy or stand-in for the real search results people are conducting.

For example, searches for your company, product, brand or even yourself are still subject to the same confusion over what a search engine is supposed to be.

When your customers, prospective business partners, employees or future prospective employees and others search for information about your organization, what results should they get? Should those results reflect what’s “true,” what’s false but popular, or what’s neutral between the two? Or should it depend on who’s doing the searching?

The truth is that Google tries to make Google Search all four of these things at the same time.

Adding to the complexity of the problem is the fact that search engine results are governed by algorithms, which are trade secrets that are constantly changing.

If you were to ask people, I suspect that most would say that Google Search should be Model No. 1 — an index to the internet — and not get involved in deciding what’s true, what’s false or what’s the answer the user wants to hear.

And yet the world increasingly demands that Google embrace Model No. 2 — to be an arbiter of what’s true.

Governments won’t tolerate an accurate index

Trump has claimed repeatedly that, in general, news media coverage is biased against him. If that’s true, and if Google News Search was a passive index of what the media is actually reporting, wouldn’t it be reasonable for Trump to expect anti-Trump coverage on Google News Search?

By slamming Google News Search as “rigged,” Trump appears to reveal an expectation that Google News should reflect what’s happening in the real world as he sees it, rather than what’s happening on news media websites.

Or it reveals that regardless of the weight of activity in favor of news sources Trump believes are biased against him, Google News Search should provide a balanced and neutral representation of all opinions and sources equally.

The rejection of the search-engine-as-internet-index model is common among governments and political leaders worldwide.

One famous example is the “right to be forgotten” idea, which has been put into practice as law in both the European Union and Argentina. The idea is that information on the internet can unfairly stigmatize a person, and citizens have the right for that information to be “forgotten,” which is to say made non-existent in search engine results.

Let’s say, for example, that a prominent person files for bankruptcy, and that 100 news sites and blogs on the internet record the fact. Twenty years later, well after the person has restored financial solvency, the old information is still available and findable via search engines, causing unfounded stigmatization.

A successful right-to-be-forgotten petition can remove reference to those pages from search results. The pages still exist, but the search engines don’t link to them when anyone searches for the person’s name.

The advocates of right-to-be-forgotten laws clearly believe that a search engine exists to reflect the real world as it is, or as it should be, and does not exist to reflect the internet as it is.

Google was recently caught in a controversy over an assumed return to the Chinese market with a custom China-only search engine that censors internet content in the same way that domestic sites are required to by the Chinese government. Hundreds of Google employees signed a letter in protest.

Google wants to “return” to the Chinese market. The Chinese government would not allow Google to operate a search engine accessible to Chinese citizens that accurately reflected what’s actually on the internet.

The examples go on and on.

What governments tend to have in common is that in political circles, it’s very difficult to find people advocating for the index-to-the-internet conception of what a search engine should be.

Why the search-engine-as-index idea is dead

Google’s self-stated mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Nebulous, yes. But for the purposes of this column, it’s telling that Google says that its mission is to organize, not the internet’s information, but the “world’s.”

The reality is that people search Google Search and other search engines because they want information about the world, not because they want information about what the internet collectively “thinks.”

And, in any event, the point is growing moot.

What the internet “thinks” is increasingly being gamed and manipulated by propagandists, bots, fake news, trolls, conspiracy theorists, and hackers.

Accurately reflecting all this manipulated information in search engines is valuable only to the manipulators.

Also: With each passing day, more information “searching” is happening via virtual assistants such as Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and Alexa.

In other words, virtual assistants are becoming the new search engines.

With augmented reality glasses and other highly mobile sources of information, search engines such as Google will have to increasingly become arbiters of what’s true, or supposed to be true, because the public will increasingly demand a single answer for its questions.

That’s why the old initiatives for your company’s presence on the internet — SEO, marketing, social media strategy and all the rest — have new urgency.

With each passing day, search engines exist less to index the internet and more to decide for us all what’s “true” and what’s “not true.”

It’s time to redouble your efforts to make sure that what Google thinks is true about your company really is true.

Source: This article was Published computerworld.com By Mike Elgan

Published in Search Engine

Good content marketing, which makes use of long-tail keywords, can be key to making sure your small business ranks well on Google.

As the internet continues to change consumer behavior, more marketers are turning to content marketing to reach customers. But the rules for this new form of consumer outreach are different than those of traditional ads. Rather than creating a slogan or image to catch customers' attention, content marketing requires the careful use of long-tail keywords.

What are long-tail keywords?

Trying to figure out long-tail keywords can feel overwhelming, especially if you aren't a marketing professional. For instance, a simple Google search for the phrase returns more than 77 million results. At its core, long-tail keywords refer to a phrase or several words that indicate precisely what a user has typed into Google. If you tailor your SEO properly, you will rank high in the search results for the phrase that directly corresponds to what your customers are searching for online as it related to your business. 

For example, say your Atlanta-based company makes doodads that are only meant for use within restaurants and bars. Someone looking to buy those doodads might search for "where to find doodads for restaurants in Atlanta." And if you're positioned well in search results (because you've made effective use of that long-tail keyword phrase on your website), you may show up in the first- or second-page search results. 

To use long-tail keywords, you don't need to know everything about them. You just need to understand six things about the changing world of marketing, how long-tail keywords fit in that picture and where you can find them. The answer, generally speaking, is content marketing.

Content marketing has a low cost and high ROI.

Though you can still purchase ads online, one of the most cost-effective and valuable ways to reach customers is through content marketing. That involves creating online material, such as blog posts, website pages, videos or social media posts, that do not explicitly promote your brand. Instead, the messaging stimulates interest in your business and products by appealing to the needs and interests of your target customers. 

Content marketing is a form of inbound marketing, bringing consumers to you and gaining their trust and loyalty. It generates more than three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing while costing about 62 percent less. 

However, blogging and other forms of content marketing aren't effective unless you make effective use of keywords, particularly long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are essential to content marketing.

When creating online content, you want customers to be able to find it. The most common way that customers find content online is through search engines. The average business website receives more than three-quarters of its traffic from search, but that level of traffic is impossible without using keywords. 

When you incorporate relevant keywords in your content, you optimize your website for search, making it more likely that customers searching for the keywords you have used will find your business. This search engine optimization, or SEO, increases your web traffic and exposes new audiences to your brand. 

Just using keywords isn't enough. To create effective content that makes it to the top of a search engine results page, you need to use a specific type of keyword known as long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords attract customers who are ready to buy.

Long-tail keywords are phrases of three or more words, but their length isn't where the name comes from. Long tail describes the portion of the search-demand curve where these keywords live. 

In statistics, the long tail is the portion of a distribution graph that tapers off gradually rather than ending sharply. This tail usually has many small values and goes on for a long time. 

When it comes to online marketing, a small number of simple keywords are searched for very frequently, while keywords that fall into the long-tail are searched for more sporadically. For example, a simple keyword that is searched for hundreds of thousands of times would be "fitness." A long-tail keyword would be "dance fitness class in Boston." Because the tail is so long and there are so many of them, these keywords account for about 70 percent of all online searches, even though the individual keywords themselves are not searched as often. 

Long-tail keywords are not searched for as frequently as simple keywords like "hotel" or "socks," because they don't apply to everyone. They're what a customer plugs into a search engine when they know exactly what they want and need an online search to help them find it. These search terms communicate a consumer's intent – especially their intent to buy – rather than their general interest. 

This means that when you use the right long-tail keywords, you appeal directly to customers who are looking for what you are selling. You want to determine what your audience might be searching and then work those phrases into your content marketing.

Look for high search volume and low competition.

Because long-tail keywords are so niche, there is much less competition for them. If your long-tail keyword is "dance fitness class in Boston," you aren't competing for search traffic with every dance class out there or even every gym in Boston. You are only competing with Boston studios that offer dance fitness classes. That is a much smaller field. 

However, you still need enough people to search for your keywords for your investment in content marketing to be worthwhile. The best long-tail keywords are low in competition but higher in search volume. High volume in this context doesn't mean thousands of searches every day. But several dozens to a couple hundred searches shows that many of your potential customers are actively searching for that keyword.

There are many tools to help you find long-tail keywords.

The best way to find low-competition, high-volume long-tail keywords is with a keyword tool. These tools allow you to plug in a seed keyword related to your business or audience, and they will return relevant long-tail keywords. 

Keyword planners, such as Answer the Public and Keywords Everywhere, are free, though the number of keywords and the information they provide about them is limited. You can also plug seed keywords into a Google search and use the auto-complete and related search term features to find new long-tail keywords. 

Paid keyword research tools, such as LongTailPro or Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, return not only thousands of relevant long-tail keywords but also statistics on the number of monthly searches and the level of competition for those keywords. They also include tools for project planning, search filters, and additional traffic stats. However, these tools can be expensive, costing several hundred dollars to use. 

The type of tool you select depends on your budget and the scope of your content marketing, and the keywords that get you the best results depend on your business and your customers.

Long-tail keywords tell you what content to create.

If you know who your target customer is, you can use their interests and concerns as seed keywords to find related long-tail keywords. For example, if you know that your customers are interested in travel, you can search for those words to find related keyword such as "which travel insurance is best" or "tax deductible travel expenses." 

Once you have a list of these high-volume, low-competition keywords, they provide you with ideas for blog posts, social media, video content, web pages and more. You can create a series of blog posts comparing kinds of travel insurance. You can make an infographic about tax-deductible travel expenses. Rather than wondering what content to create, the long-tail keywords themselves can serve as your topics. 

Creating content around these relevant keywords automatically optimizes your web platforms for search. And since your initial seed keywords were based on what you know about your target customer, you are designing content that directly appeals to the people searching for a business like yours. Using long-tail keywords effectively works with search engines to bring customers directly to your website, rather than hoping that they see an ad and decide your business is worth visiting.

Source: This article was Published business.com By Katharine Paljug

Published in Online Research

New markup from Schema.org including HowTo, QAPage, and FAQPage can be used to potentially show your content in Google in a brand new way. Google previewed this in Singapore a couple weeks ago.

Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that it has been testing for the past several months a new form of search results snippets — the way the search results appear to searchers. These new search snippets are in the form of FAQs or frequently asked questions, Q&A or question & answers and How-Tos.

Akhil Agarwal notified us about this feature on Twitter, and Google has just sent us a statement explaining the test. Here is the screenshot presented at a recent Google event in Singapore:

A Google Spokesperson told us:

We’re always looking for new ways to provide the most relevant, useful results for our users. We’ve recently introduced new ways to help users understand whether responses on a given Q&A or forum site could have the best answer for their question. By bringing a preview of these answers onto Search, we’re helping our users more quickly identify which source is most likely to have the information they’re looking for. We’re currently working with partners to experiment with ways to surface similar previews for FAQ and How-to content.

These new snippet features give more insights into what the searcher can expect from that web page before deciding to click on the search result. Webmasters should be able to mark up their content with structured data and to have their search results be eligible to have the question and answer previews shown. Similar to how supporting metadata around the number of upvotes and the Top Answer feature works.

Google will soon open up an interest form to allow publishers and webmasters to participate in the FAQ and How-to formats shown in the screenshot above.

 Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz

Published in Search Engine

Data nuts, here is your chance to get your data and charts looking pretty in the Google search results snippets.

Google has announced support for datasets markup schema in the Google search results. This makes it possible for searchers to better visualize data represented on a web page directly in Google’s search results.

Google explained that “news organizations that publish data in the form of tables can add additional structured data to make the dataset parts of the page easier to identify for use in relevant Search features.” Google added, “News organizations add the structured data to their existing HTML of a page, which means that news organizations can still control how their tables are presented to readers.”

Here is what it looks like, with the markup version on the right:

Google’s developer site explains this is a “pilot” release of this markup. Google wrote:

Datasets are easier to find when you provide supporting information such as their name, description, creator and distribution formats are provided as structured data. Google’s approach to dataset discovery makes use of schema.org and other metadata standards that can be added to pages that describe datasets. The purpose of this markup is to improve discovery of datasets from fields such as life sciences, social sciences, machine learning, civic and government data, and more.

Around two years ago, Google first announced this as Science datasets in the search. Google is now calling them simply “Dataset” and expanding it beyond the science community to any data-driven agency.

Here are some examples of what can qualify as a dataset:

  • A table or a CSV file with some data.
  • An organized collection of tables.
  • A file in a proprietary format that contains data.
  • A collection of files that together constitute some meaningful dataset.
  • A structured object with data in some other format that you might want to
    load into a special tool for processing.
  • Images capturing data.
  • Files relating to machine learning, such as trained parameters or neural network structure definitions.
  • Anything that looks like a dataset to you.

 Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz

Published in Search Engine

Google image search on desktop tests tiled image layout with titles and URLs beneath the snippets.

Google Image Search for desktop is testing a user interface and design that makes it more aligned with the mobile image search layout that launched back in March of this year. The desktop version in this test shows the tiled image layout in this white interface, it also shows the titles and URLs beneath each image search result snippet.

Here is a screenshot of the test, which I grabbed from a Google support forum

This brings it more in line with the mobile version of the image search results on Google. Here is a screenshot from my iPhone this morning:

Here is what the current design looks like, without the tiled design and titles and URLs:

Google is often testing new user interfaces, but it does make sense that it would align the desktop and mobile interfaces for image search.

Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz

Published in Search Engine

The rate at which Google shows its “People Also Ask” search suggestions, aka “Related Questions”, jumped by 34% this week.

According to data from Moz, Google’s Related Questions are now shown 43% of the time.

Dr. Pete Meyers@dr_pete

Big increase (+34%) in Related Questions ("People Also Ask") on Google SERPs last night. They're on a whopping 43% of all SERPs in the MozCast 10K data set. This number rises and falls, of course, but I've hand-checked and confirmed the increase--

To put that in a different perspective — one out of every two or three searches will now display “People Also Ask” suggestions.

Putting it yet another way — Related Questions are now the fourth most commonly displayed Google search feature out of all the features tracked by Moz.

As you can see in the image above, Related Questions are now shown almost as frequently as AdWords.

Just so we’re all on the same page, this feature is not the same as the “People Also Search For” suggestion box. Although the wording is similar, they are two distinctly different features.

This data strictly applies to the “People Also Ask” suggestion box, as seen in the example below.

What makes this feature unique is that each suggestion has a drop-down button that can be clicked on to reveal a search snippet.

Therein lies the opportunity for SEOs and site owners. With this feature now appearing more regularly, it gives content creators the opportunity to drive traffic by targeting related terms.

For example — instead of going after a highly competitive query with a new piece of content, you might want to consider other ways that question might be typed into Google.

A related question could be less competitive, giving you the opportunity to gain exposure by possibly appearing in the “People also ask” suggestions.

Since this feature usually appears near the top of the first page, ranking for a related questions suggestion could be highly valuable.

Source: This article was published searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern

Published in Search Engine

Forget that blue Google search results interface for the local panel -- here is a new fresh look

Google is now rolling out a new look for the local panel in the mobile search results. The new look goes from the blue interface with text buttons to a white interface with rounded buttons. Here is the new look you might be able to see now when you search for a local business on your smartphone:


Here is what this looked like the other day, in the blue interface:


Google has been testing this new interface on and off since January of this year.

If you do not see the new interface now, it might require a bit more time for it to fully roll out.

We have emailed Google for a comment and will update this story when we receive one.

Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz

Published in Search Engine

The kids of today are comfortable in the digital space. They use digital diaries and textbooks at school, communicate via instant messaging, and play games on mobile devices.

However, as much as the Internet is an incredible resource, access to it can be dangerous for children, and parents who want their child to spend time online safely and productively, need to understand the basic concepts of digital security and the associated threats and be able to explain them to their children.

With this in mind, Kaspersky Lab compiles an annual report, based on statistics received from its solutions and modules with child protection features, which examines the online activities of children around the world.

Video content

According to the report, globally, video content made up 17% of Internet searches. Although many videos watched as a result of these searches may be harmless, it is still possible for children to accidentally end up watching videos that contain harmful or inappropriate content.

The report presents search results on the ten most-popular languages for the last six months. The data shows that the 'video and audio' category, which covers requests related to any video content, streaming services, video bloggers, series, and movies, are the most regularly 'Googled', and make up 17% of the total requests.

Second and third places go to translation (14%) and communication (10%) Web sites respectively. Gaming Websites sit in fourth place, generating only 9% of the total search requests.

Harnessing smart wearables to spy on owners

Kaspersky Lab has also noted a clear language difference for search requests. "For example, video and music Web sites are typically searched for in English, which can be explained by the fact that the majority of movies, TV series and musical groups have English names. Spanish-speaking kids carry out more requests for translation sites, while communication services are mostly searched for in Russian."

Chinese-speaking children look for education services, while French kids are more interested in sport and games Web sites. German children dominate in the "shopping" category, Japanese kids search for Anime, and the highest number of search requests for pornography are in Arabic.

Anna Larkina, the Web-content analysis expert at Kaspersky Lab, says children around the world have varying interests and online behaviors, but what links them all is their need to be protected online from potentially harmful content.

"Children looking for animated content could accidentally open a porn video. Or they could start searching for innocent videos and unintentionally end up on Web sites containing violent content, both of which could have a long-term impact on their impressionable and vulnerable minds," she says.

A local view

In addition to analyzing searches, the report also delves into the types of Web sites children visit, or attempt to visit, which contain potentially harmful content that falls under one of the 14 pre-set categories, which cover Internet communication sites, adult content, narcotics, computer games, gambling and many others.

The data revealed that in South Africa, communication sites (such as social media, messengers, or e-mails) were the most popular (69%) of pages visited.

However, the percentage for this category is dropping each year, as mobile devices play an increasingly bigger role in children's online activities.

The second most popular category of Web sites visited in SA is 'software, audio, and video', accounting for 17%. Websites with this content have become significantly more popular since last year when it was only the fifth most popular category globally at 6%.

Others in the top four are electronic commerce (4.2%) and alcohol, tobacco, and Web sites about narcotics (3.9%), which is a new addition compared to this time last year.

Education

Irrespective of what children are doing online, it is important for parents not to leave their children's digital activities unattended, says Larkina.

"While it is important to trust your children and educate them about how to behave safely online, even your good advice cannot protect them from something unexpectedly showing up on the screen. That's why advanced security solutions are key to ensuring children have positive online experiences, rather than harmful ones," she concludes.

Source: This article was published itweb.co.za

Published in Internet Privacy

Time spent increasing meta descriptions for the longer Google search results snippets may have been wasted.

Google has confirmed that only about five months after increasing the search results snippets, it has now decreased the length of these snippets. Danny Sullivan of Google wrote, “Our search snippets are now shorter on average than in recent weeks.” He added that they are now “… slightly longer than before a change we made last December.”

Google told Search Engine Land in December that writing meta descriptions don’t change with longer search snippets, telling webmasters back then that there is “no need for publishers to suddenly expand their meta description tags.”

Sullivan said, “There is no fixed length for snippets. Length varies based on what our systems deem to be most useful. He added Google will not state a new maximum length for the snippets because the snippets are generated dynamically.

RankRanger’s tracker tool puts the new average length of the description snippet field on the desktop at around 160 characters, down from around 300+ characters

… while mobile characters for the search results snippets are now down to an average of 130 characters:


Here is Danny Sullivan’s confirmation:

tweet
If you went ahead and already lengthened your meta descriptions, should you go back and shorten them now? Google’s advice is to not focus too much on these, as many of the snippets Google chooses are dynamic anyway and not pulled from your meta descriptions. In fact, a recent study conducted by Yoast showed most of the snippets Google shows are not from the meta description, but rather they are from the content on your web pages.

 Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz

Published in Search Engine

Use Facebook Advanced Search to Find All Kinds of Things

A search for people who like cats on Facebook

Facebook advanced search is more a concept than a function. The world's largest social network had a standalone advanced search feature in the early days of its history but released a new service called Graph Search in early 2013 that essentially replaces the older advanced search features with a powerful new search engine.

To do an advanced search on Facebook, it's best to sign up for the graph search feature if you haven't already activated it and start learning how it works.

Our "Facebook Search Guide - Intro to Graph Search" provides an overview of how it works and the types of content you can look for and find with the so-called Graph Search. This article provides screenshots and explanations of more advanced query types and refinement options.

Reviewing the Basics

To start searching, remember you can just click on the Facebook logo or your name in the upper left corner and type any query. You can search for people, places and things matching all kinds of different traits or criteria, including geography, dates and clicks on the "like" button.

Two general filters you likely will use are "friends" and "like," since those refer to friend connections and use of the "like" button throughout Facebook.

Also remember, it's smart to pay attention to the phrasing suggestions Facebook presents in a drop-down list whenever you start typing a query. OK, that's it for basics, ready to move on?

Query Phrasing Examples

Let's start with a general query not restricted to friends. You might type, "people who live in Chicago, Illinois and are single and like cats."

When I did this, the query turned up more than 1,000 people who matched the search, so Facebook presented two suggested phrasings that sought clarification on whether I meant "cats" as an animal or "cats" as a business. Those suggestions are shown in the image above.

When I specified the "animal" type of cats, Facebook presented a list of matching users, with a vertical stack of profile photos of people who live in Chicago and have clicked the like button on cat photos.

Facebook also asked if I wanted to see people who had liked "Cats & Dogs," the movie. And if I clicked the "see more" button, it offered "West Chicago" as a refinement option.

Click the "NEXT" button below to see the list of additional filters that Facebook typically shows for people searches like this one.

Facebook people search filter

Advanced Search Filters for Chicago Cat Lovers

Running an advanced Facebook search like "people who live in Chicago, Illinois and are single and like cats" can produce so many results that you'll have to refine the query if you want to see any meaningful results.

The image above shows the typical people search filter box that is available on the results page for any query involving people. I've found that using this box is the best way to narrow a Facebook people search.

As you can see, the box allows you to refine Facebook people search results by gender, employer, hometown, employer and so forth.

Each of those filters has additional sub-categories you can choose. For example, under "friends," you can select one of these:

  • My close friends
  • My friends
  • Friends of my friends
  • Not my friends
  • Friends of Joe SixPack (substitute any friend of yours for Joe)

Okay, let's look at a totally different example, this one involving Paula Deen and restaurants. It will allow us to explore the "places" bucket of content and the "like" button.

Click "NEXT" for a new example.

Facebook restaurant search

OK, let's try an advanced Facebook search involving restaurants. Say you're a Paula Deen fan and you start typing a query that says something general: "restaurants liked by people who like Paula Deen..."

Facebook may ask you to be more precise, since there are so many restaurants liked by Paula Deen fans.

It may suggest you look at Savannah, Georgia restaurants, in Deen territory. It also will likely offer suggestions for types of restaurant queries that it can handle, as shown in the image above. It may rank them by popularity, such as Asian, American, Mexican and so forth.

If you typed a more general phrase, leaving out a connector such as "by," and simply said "restaurants like friends Paula Deen," it would offer more precise versions of that query, such as restaurants...

  • liked by my friends who like Paula Deen (public figure)
  • liked by friends OF Paula Deen (person)
  • Cafes liked by my friends who like Paula Deen

You get the idea.

Next, let's explore more general searches for based on geography, religion and political views. click "Next" below to see examples.

Facebook Graph search makes it easy to do a search by city, because one powerful search parameter for people on the social network involves geography.

You can find Facebook friends by city using either the city where they currently live or their hometown. Both are examples of structured data Facebook stores about users, making it easy to search.

You can also do a Facebook search by city for people you don't know, and based on the privacy settings of each individual, see a list of people living in particular cities who use Facebook that you are not friends with.

I started with a general search on "People who live in Los Angeles, California" and it helpfully told me: "Your results include people who've lived in Los Angeles, California at any time. you may want to limit your search to Current Los Angeles, California residents." As I phrased the question different ways, it also asked if I wanted people who live IN L.A. or people who live NEAR L.A.

The "see more" button prompted me to check for "my friends" who live in L.A. I clicked that option, and it spit out a list of my 14 friends who happen to currently live in or near Los Angeles, along with a list below that of friends of friends who live there.

Advanced Facebook People Search Filters

The filter box for refining "people search results" even further is accessible through a small rectangular tab or label on the right, usually overlaid on the visual search results. What the label says varies with the type of search; in this case it said "14 Friends" since that's how many matches I had. But it usually has three tiny stacked, horizontal bars. When you click on that little label, the filter box opens up with many more options for narrowing(or broadening) your search.

The people filter offers all kinds of basic and advanced refinements. They are classified under headings such as "Relationships & Family, Work and Education, Likes and Interest, Photos and Videos," and so forth.

Sort People by Political or Religious Views?

These filters are very granular, and some are potentially controversial. They allow you, for example, to sort people by their age range, religious views (Buddhist? Catholic? Christian? Hindu? Jewish? Muslim? Protestant), and political views (Conservative? Democrat? Green? Liberal? Libertarian? Republican?) You can even specify what languages they speak. Some filters get into highly personal areas and, therefore, have privacy implications that worry many people.

The image above, for example, shows the religious views options in the search filter box. It's similar to the political views box.

The political views filter, along with the ability to search on who "liked" Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, allowed me to easily sort my friends into those favoring the Democratic or Republican party, at least around the time of the 2012 election. That was a new thing for me--I'd never seen anything like that before--a bunch of profile pictures of my friends sorted by political views.

Extend Your Search in Other Ways

In my L.A. people search, the "extend this search" area at the bottom of the filter box suggested that I might want to expand my search to see "photos of these people," or "these people's friends," or "places where they've worked."

A remarkable variety of search options, indeed. Click "Next" to see more search examples, this time involving apps and who uses them.

Finding Facebook Photos Lots of Friends Like or Commented On

Facebook photo search filters

One of my favorite Facebook searches is quite simple: "Photos I have liked."

Despite all the time I've spent on Facebook, I've actually clicked the "Like" button on just under 100 pictures. They obviously moved me, so it was fun going back and looking at them all again.

The "refine this search" button allowed me to also change my query easily to see all the photos that my friends have liked (provided their privacy settings allowed that.) That, of course, turned up the volume on the results, producing more than 1,000 photos.

Facebook's search results counter seems to stop at 1,000; when your results exceed that amount, it won't tell you how many more there are, just that there are more than 1,000. At least, that's what happened in all my trials.

You can do a lot of more specific photo searches similar to the example shown above, in which I searched for photos my friends took at zoos and aquariums. The background imagery shows photos that matched my query, and the filter box popped up on the right after I clicked the little horizontal bars previously mentioned.

I had fun playing around with this one using the filter box (shown on the right), especially using the "commented on" and "liked" filters to see which of my friends had commented and what they said.

(More examples of photo searches are available in our Introduction to Facebook Searching. Also, see our basic Facebook Photos Guide for general info on using pictures on the social network.)

Click "Next" below to see ways you can search for Facebook apps used by your friends.

Facebook Apps Your Friends Use

Facebook apps friends

Another interesting Facebook search you can run is "Apps my friends use."

Facebook's advanced search will spit out a list of apps with their icons in order of popularity with your friends, or which ones are most used by your pals.

Beneath the name of each app, it will list the names of a few friends who use it, along with the total number of your friends who use it.

Beneath the names of your pal, it will show a couple of other links allowing you to run additional, related searches. They are outlined in red in the image above.

Clicking "People" will produce a list of a bunch more people who use that app, not necessarily limited to your friends. This one is kind of creepy, but if you have not restricted the privacy settings for your use of this particular app, you could show up in the search results to anyone running a search like this.

Clicking "similar" is less creepy and more useful; it will show a list of other apps similar to that one.

Also fun is using Graph Search to find Facebook apps friends use. Facebook app search is a powerful capability of the new search engine. Here are a few specific queries Facebook may suggest relating to apps if you type apps and friends into the search bar, besides the most obvious one, "apps my friends use":

  • Apps my friends use that I use
  • Apps used by my friends who joined X (where X is a group you belong to)
  • Sports apps my friends use
  • Books apps my friends use
  • Apps my friends who live nearby use
  • Movies apps my friends use

As always, the suggested searches likely will vary based on your personal connections, likes, and interests on Facebook.

That's it for this tutorial. Now go explore the blue search bar. Have fun, and try not to get too creeped out.

 Source: This article was published lifewire.com By Leslie Walker

Published in Search Engine
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