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Search is an everyday part of our lives. From searching for the ingredients to make breakfast, looking for travel routes, and even to things as obscure as finding a dog-sitter - we are used to searching for things every day, so much so that over the past ten years the number of hours spent on the Internet has doubled to an average of 20 hours per week. However, during that time, the technology employed by search engines has not changed drastically and has been reliant on keyword based search. This kind of search picks out main words, disregards connective words and, in turn, provides users with pages and pages of results, many of which are not relevant.

In recent years, developments in mobile technology and voice search have changed the way people seek out information, and as a result, the way we search has evolved. However, some of the major search engines are yet to catch up.

So, what are the key trends that we can expect to see revolutionise the way we search?

The future of search appears to be in the algorithms behind the technology. Semantic search or natural language is being hailed as the ‘holy grail,’ but in the Search of the Future, new methods will prevail that provide better results thanks to their ability to organise information deriving from improved algorithms driven by the new methods. These methods will also utilise new technological approaches such as “natural intelligence” or “human language search,” rather than artificial intelligence and natural language search.

The difference among the search types is that: the keyword search only picks out the words that it thinks are relevant; the natural language search is closer to how the human brain processes information; the human language search that we practice is the exact matching between questions and answers as it happens in interactions between human beings.

The technology behind the human language search approach allows users to type in words or terms composed of a number of questions in sequences that replicate the dialogue that occurs between human beings. For example, instead of carrying out three different searches for UK golf courses, train stations and hotels under £300, users would simply type in “which UK hotels under £300 have golf courses and are near a train station”. This would immediately provide them with accurate results by returning in a single view information about hotels, golf courses and train stations.

In an ‘always on, always connected’ world, where people demand instantaneous results, the answers to a search must be precise, complete and immediately accessible.

The humanisation of technology and in particular, search, can be attributed to this new direction that the future of search is taking.

The aforementioned technology is transforming search and introducing new trends like the human language search approach. Yet the gap between using personal devices and using traditional search engines is yet to be fully bridged. This quest for an effective, true to life search engine that is identical to the way humans think is the holy grail, the online equivalent of the scientific search for a cure for cancer. In recent years there has been a handful of search engines trying and succeeding in mirroring these search techniques, and we can expect to see them launch into and dominate the consumer market. 



The emergence of IoT and Big Data has resulted in increasing amounts of data being produced, and it’s predicted that by the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet. All of this additional information means that search needs to be streamlined so that users can filter through the ‘noise’ and efficiently find what they are looking for. Search engines will need to be far more proficient to allow everyday users to effectively navigate the minefield of additional information.

Another key trend we can expect to see in the future of search is the shift from ‘search engines’ to ‘search platforms’, meaning that they will have a wider use. They will provide tools, services and a level of precision that is not currently available. It will be designed for the organisation, and management of information. Essential to this, is the simplification of results findings, presenting all the relevant search findings onto just one page, instead of the hundreds of results that we are used to being offered.

Ultimately, what the future holds is unknown, as the amount of time that we spend online increases, and technology becomes an innate part of our lives. It is expected that the desktop versions of search engines that we have become accustomed to will start to copy their mobile counterparts by embracing new methods and techniques like the human language search approach, thus providing accurate results. Fortunately these shifts are already being witnessed within the business sphere, and we can expect to see them being offered to the rest of society within a number of years, if not sooner.

Author : Gianpiero Lotito

Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/gianpiero-lotito/the-next-frontier-of-inte_b_14738538.html

Categorized in Search Techniques

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif., March 7, 2017 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Measured Search Inc, provider of the leading open source search-as-a-service solutions, today announced the availability of their new Elasticsearch Service offering. Elasticsearch, the popular open source search engine has been growing impressively over the last few years in both developer adoption and product features. Measured Search's Elasticsearch Service offers key features focused on enterprise customers:

Pick a Cloud...Any Cloud

Measured Search's Elasticsearch Service is Cloud agnostic. Host, deploy, manage and scale Elasticsearch applications in any cloud (including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud). Enterprises choose cloud vendors based on different criteria. Those criteria can change over time - as they change, so too can the cloud provider.

Managed Services with SLA-backed Guarantees

Get 24x7x365 comprehensive and SLA-backed Managed Services from Elasticsearch experts. They are only a call or an email away – literally, anytime. Enjoy peace of mind with fully managed Elasticsearch Service.

Actionable Insights

Detailed query level metrics allows users to gain insights around what your users are searching for and how you can optimize search relevance. Get search conversion analytics, query level details and session level analytics to discover and track areas of improvement that can lead to increased click throughs and revenue.

Custom Plugin Support

Want to add the latest plugin or add a custom plugin to your Elasticsearch cluster? Elasticsearch Service by Measured Search supports custom plugins through their developer support.

"We've seen some of our customers struggle with their hosted Elasticsearch applications and felt there was a strong need for a fully managed Elasticsearch Service solution. They want to be able to focus on the interesting aspects of their job: application development and relevance tuning. And they want to leave the maintenance, support, care and feeding of the search infrastructure and tooling to someone else. Over the last year, we've really grown and learned from our Solr-as-a-Service customers and we're applying these lessons learned to our customers who are utilizing Elasticsearch."

-Sameer Maggon, CEO Measured Search

About Measured Search

Measured Search® enables companies to elevate the experience of Apache Solr or Elasticsearch based search applications faster and with more confidence. SearchStax® by Measured Search is a leading cloud orchestration, management and analytics platform for Open Source Search. Delivering cloud agnostic search as a managed service, Measured Search offers software and services that automate Solr or Elasticsearch management and administration in the cloud, improves stability and performance, provides comprehensive end-user search analytics, and on demand Search expertise.

Media Contact: Bing Gin, Measured Search, Inc., 844-973-2724, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com

Source : http://finance.yahoo.com/news/measured-search-launches-fully-managed-160000573.html

 

 

Categorized in Search Engine

SAN FRANCISCO — Don't believe everything you search. Or at least, not the featured snippets that Google puts at the top of search results.

The featured snippets are one of the 10 top search results Google displays in a special box. And they are in the spotlight thanks to longtime Google observer Danny Sullivan, founding editor of the blog Search Engine Land. Sullivan says the snippets, which he has dubbed Google's "one true answer" feature, can be deeply flawed. How flawed? "Sometimes these answers are terribly wrong," Sullivan says.

Recent examples? One featured snippet claimed some U.S. presidents were members of the Ku Klux Klan. (False). Another claimed President Obama was planning a coup d'etat. (Only if you scrolled down did you stumble on an ABC news story debunking the snippet).

Google isn't even telling you the truth about how long it takes to caramelize onions ("28 minutes if you cooked them as hot as possible and constantly stirred them, 45 minutes if you were sane about it" but definitely not about five minutes), according to Gizmodo. Or on whether MSG can kill you. (We're pretty sure it can't, at least we hope not).

"The featured snippets feature is an automatic and algorithmic match to the search query, and the content comes from third-party sites," Google said in an emailed statement. "We’re always working to improve our algorithms, and we welcome feedback on incorrect information."

Users can report incorrect information through a "Feedback" button at the bottom right of the featured snippet, Google said.

Author : Jessica Guynn

Source : http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/03/07/dont-believe-everything-you-search-on-google/98878158/

Categorized in Search Engine

Whitespark, a team of SEO experts focused on local search, has noticed something big: proximity to the searcher is now the #1 ranking factor for local search pack results.

 

What defines a local search? Think of local searches as searches on a search engine for something you’d traditionally look up in the yellow pages, usually for a place you’d like to physically go (e.g. a hotel, an atm nearby, or a dry cleaner).

A ‘pack’ – usually a 3-pack – is the Google configuration of results that appears at the top of a page for some searches and looks like this:

According to Whitespark’s tests, proximity in local searches now outweighs Google reviews, linking domains, whether businesses have claimed their Google listings – even whether or not they have a website!

How Can We Tell?

Here’s what one search for a local plumber turned up, and the local ranking factors for those plumbers:

Here are the factors that are normally some of the most important in determining search rank. As you can see, most of the plumbers listed rank pretty poorly for every factor… except location:

As Darren Shaw, CEO of Whitespark, points out: “Surely, Google, there are more prominent businesses in [my city] that deserve to rank for this term?”

There probably are.

However, when it comes to local searches, it looks like proximity is now the truest measure of worth from Google’s perspective.

Here’s the evidence from Whitespark, based on 9 different local searches by 4 people spread out across a city.

Browsing in incognito mode in Chrome from 4 dispersed locations around the city, they get 4 very different sets of results for the same search term.

The Good News

It’s not all about proximity, though! Local organic listings – the ones below the 3-pack – are relatively unaffected by proximity.

“Generally, localized organic results are consistent no matter where you’re located in a city — which is a strong indication of traditional ranking signals (links, reviews, citations, content, etc) that outweigh proximity when it comes to local organic results,” writes Shaw.

This is good news for hotels, especially those with restaurants, spas and other services that serve the local community as well as guests.

What Should Hotels Do?

Hotels should make their Google My Business profiles as strong as possible, and hotels should be on other sites that provide recommendations (like TripAdvisor).

This proximity factor won’t matter in many cases – most people searching for hotels aren’t looking for hotels in their city, after all. They’re doing research on hotels where they’d like to go. However, there are two important cases where proximity matters:

  • As mentioned above, for your hotel’s restaurant, spa, or other business that serves the local area as well as your guests
  • For last-minute bookers searching for a hotel as they drive into town

For example, when we search for ‘hotels’ on an incognito browser from our office at Net Affinity, this is what we get:

As you can see, those hotel results are pretty much triangulated around our location.

To prepare for those last-minute bookers and those on the hunt for your restaurant, you should make your Google profiles as strong as possible. While proximity is the dominating factor for the 3-pack, you can still aim for that coveted top organic listing.

You should also keep in mind that a lot of people won’t like these results. This move from Google likely won’t be too popular. Often, you’re not searching for the closest restaurant in town, you’re searching for the best. If all Google is showing you is the fast food joint up the street, you’re more likely to turn to sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and others.t

So, another important thing to do is to diversify and make sure your hotel, restaurant, and spa are on those sites, and that you’re putting time into optimizing those profiles. Don’t force yourself to rely completely on Google.

Conclusion

This is a big deal, but, managed properly, won’t affect your hotel too much. Local SEO has become more competitive with this change, and you’ll need to compensate with optimizing everything you can. Talk to your digital marketing team if your hotel is likely to be affected!

Additionally, diversify your efforts to TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other popular review and ranking sites in your area.

Author  :  Taylor Smariga

Source : http://www.4hoteliers.com/features/article/10305

Categorized in Search Engine

There was a time when you couldn’t get a chicken soup recipe while sitting on the toilet. Strange but true! It used to be that you asked your mom, or your friends, a book, or your local librarian for information. Today, instead of picking up the phone, everyone from bearded urban millennials to grandmas and dairy farmers turn to one place above all others: the Internet. How do people search? Who gets clicked? Why does search matter so much?

There is limitless information and entertainment, available (just about) wherever you are and available whenever you want it. It’s no surprise that lightning-fast Google has replaced the Dewey Decimal System as the primary means for finding out what you need to know.

SEO: the difference between being seen or ignored

But in this vast sea of cyber information, it’s easy for the websites of many businesses and individuals to get lost or outranked by bigger players. It’s the reason SEO (search engine optimization) is a hot topic. SEO is almost always the difference between being seen and being ignored online.

But you don’t need a specialized degree to understand why sites like Google and Bing rank their results the way they do. Getting the best of your business to appear in the top of search results starts by learning how people use search engines, and then tailoring your website’s information in a way that it’s most likely to reach a searcher’s eyes (hint: it’s how we crafted this article, from bare bones to final draft).

What Search Engines Do

People want their search results to be as relevant and reliable as possible, so search engines work to ensure that the answer to a user’s search query fits the bill. More information isn’t always better, and there’s usually a good reason for why certain results appear farther down on the list than others (not always though).

Googles mission is to organize the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Search engines use something called algorithms to rate and rank websites within any given list of search results. The better the ranking, the closer to the top of the search results the site will appear.

Which Search Engine Gets the Most Use?

Most of us (a whopping 64% as of October 2016) head straight to Google when we want to know something. Bing, the next most popular search engine, is the engine of choice for 22% of users.

google accounts for 64%25 of search engine usage

If you’re just learning the basics of SEO, it makes sense to start by focusing on ranking high with Google to capture the highest possible number of leads.

A caveat: you’ll never be able to know all of the factors at play (and Google doesn’t want you to, since there will always be some who would exploit the system). It’s also unlikely you will be able to keep up with the changing factors all the time because Google changes it’s search algorithm almost daily. But having a basic idea about what Google is looking for will help you get on the first page of results.

How People Use Search Engines

You may have been taught to put your search queries in quotes, or you may be more of a “voice command” searcher. While everyone has a different search style, there are some basic rules that dictate how we approach things when we’re looking for information.

Full or Part Phrase Searchers

According to research from Blue Nile, about half of searchers use full phrases (i.e. “How do I cook a lasagna”), while the other half use fragments (“how cook lasagna”).

However, nobody wants to reach just half the people searching for their information, so creating a page that hits on a variety of relevant keywords and search terms is necessary.

There are typically three types of queries that people make:

  • “Do” queries (see lasagna example above)
  • “Go” queries (when they want to reach a specific page)
  • “Know” queries (when they want detailed information on a specific topic)

In order for your page to reach the people who you are looking for, it needs to be composed to be relevant for the specific category of query the person entered. To make this targeted approach, it’s important to get a full grasp on what your information is really delivering — or the message you want it to deliver.

Who Gets Clicked On

The first page of search results are coveted. It’s the beachside real estate in the world of SEO, and everyone wants to live there. Some beaches are better than others because of the commercial aspects of top rankings.

94% of people scroll right past the paid ads

There are no shortcuts to that spot, not even through paid advertising. A 2011 study based on 28 millions users and 1.4 billion searches in the UK found that 94% of people scroll right past the paid ads, ignoring them in favor of the natural results.

People choose the 3 organic results 68% of the time

The study also found that users chose one of the top three organic search results 68% of the time. For the pages that don’t hold one of those three coveted spots, it means significantly less traffic.

It’s not always enough to be on the front page. You have to be there based on merit rather than through ad placement, and you have to rank above pretty much all of the millions of other relevant listings.

Why SEO is Important for a Website

Search engines are smart in a way different than human beings are. They rely on context and keywords to accurately deduce your page’s relevance for a specific search term. And their decision, while potentially flawed, can make the difference between the first page of search results and the last.

This is why search engine optimization can give your site the fuel it needs to appear higher in search results. Adhering and adapting to the changes in SEO best practices can mean big things for a business. It can make your brand more visible, increase web traffic, enhance credibility, and bring in more revenue.

search-improvement-graph.jpg

Search results bring more traffic to a website than social media, according to a study conducted by Outbrain. They also bring traffic that is less likely to bounce. Optimizing your site for search engines isn’t just smart business—it’s necessary for being seen in the first place.

The variables that dictate how people search and how search engines display results may always be changing, but it’s the nature of the game. In order for a website to stay relevant and rank high, it’s essential to stay ahead of the changing algorithms and trends in user behavior in online search.

Author : Kent Campbell

Source : http://www.business2community.com/seo/people-search-understanding-landscape-01775943#50cWDMSDDv3t783W.97

Categorized in Search Engine

Today we are going to talk about free and open source software called Zazu, which actually is responsible for quickly searching for EXE files in our team and run them thanks to the launcher function available, which can turn into an alternative to Cortana in Windows 10.

One of its main characteristics is that, in addition to operating locally, it also allows searches on the keyword in Google, NPM, Giphy, etc. Thanks to the functionalities that it puts at our disposal, this freeware will help us to increase our productivity, since it allows changing quickly between the different tasks that we can carry out. It is also worth noting that you can extend its functionality, thanks to the use of various add-ons that are added to the tool itself.

In fact this application already has a series of add-ons that will give us the option to perform various additional tasks like locating an internal or external IP address, finding local applications, shutting down or rebooting the PC, etc. In addition, being an open source alternative it will over time probably continue to receive interesting improvements.

The truth is that on the Net we can download many launchers of applications specially designed for Windows, but Zazu differs from most due to the automation of searches in alternative services such as those mentioned Google, GitHub or NPM. On the other hand say that it is a cross-platform application, so it can also be used on Linux and Mac platforms.

How to use the Zazu application

Its use is extremely simple, since once installed and executed, it is located in the system taskbar from where we can launch it by accessing “Toggle Zazu” or pressing the key combination “Alt + Spacebar”, then the corresponding Search bar where we type the term in question. The user interface itself allows us to select the source of such a search.

If we make use of any of its additions, instead of executing the EXE, it will show the results in our default browser. On the other hand we can do some basic mathematical calculations, convert units of measure, etc. As we have said, to extend its functionality we have to install add-ons, something that we can carry out by typing in the search bar the command “Install” followed by the first letter of the plugin in question.

To finish will say that it can be so that it can be installed easily without having to worry about virsus.

Author : Alex Wilson

Source : http://hitechgazette.com/2017/01/31/zazu-a-powerful-internet-search-engine-and-application-launcher/

Categorized in Search Engine

One of SEO’s hottest topics recently has been the need to migrate from HTTP to HTTPS, especially for those websites which collect personal data or passwords. Websites serving content over the secure HTTPS protocol have been given a ranking boost since 2014. Google Chrome (which owns ~55% of the desktop browser market) is visibly branding websites as secure.

In Google Chrome 56, the upcoming browser update will also start branding websites served on HTTP as not secure. (If you haven’t yet made the switch to HTTPS, you should read this SEJ article from Tony Messer.)

So what’s next on Google’s agenda? Within the SEO community, we already know that Google is able to ‘guess’ standard URLs on websites, such as XML sitemaps, about pages, and contact pages. Could it be plausible for Google to start making passive scans of websites too?

Passive scanning is a form of web vulnerability testing and is seen as a less dangerous alternative to active vulnerability testing, where a system is probed and stressed, and carries risks ranging from performance lag to system crash.

While passive scans won’t discover as much as an active test, they may provide enough information to aid an IDT (Intrusion Detection Tool).

The Case for Google and Passive Scans

As HTTPS becomes widespread and the new standard for all websites, the bar of what is and isn’t safe needs to be raised again.

At the end of 2016, Google Webmasters published a link to the Sucuri 2016/Q2 Hacked Website Report, highlighting analysis of 9,000 infected websites made up of WordPress, Joomla!, Magento, and Drupal builds.

Google’s main reason for flagging this report is the increased number of hacks for SEO purposes. Hackers targeted search optimized websites to ‘piggyback’ off of their good rankings. After gaining access, they created malicious 301 redirects to other websites. The intention is to extract information or money from the user, or infect their machine with malware, ransomware, or viruses.

A site hack can leave lasting damage. For example, the below screenshot is of my landlord’s website:

Hacked Website Warning Google

This is a WordPress website that was hacked via an outdated plugin. Instead of displaying a title tag for a letting (leasing) agency based in the North of England, it’s displaying the name of a Japanese consumer electronics company.

The website still appears within Google UK for its exact match name, but little else. Anyone who comes across the site via online search will likely perceive this as a black mark against my landlord’s trust and credibility. 

Secure Your Website Ahead of Time

Google has given us warning that they are going to start marking websites as unsecure in Chrome 56, giving webmasters the opportunity to migrate to HTTPS. But there is currently no indication that there will be any advance notice of passive scans or other security checks. Here’s how you can stay ahead of the game:

  1. If you’re running open source software, it’s important that you keep it up-to-date and ensure it’s updated to the latest version.
  2. Check your plugins. According to the Sucuri report, 22% of all WordPress hacks they found came from three plugins not being updated. It’s estimated that WordPress websites have an average of 12 plugins installed. Any that haven’t been updated recently by the developer should be considered for replacement. Plugins that have been abandoned by developers can become unsecure over time and offer easy access to a website.
  3. Use an edge network company and put your website behind a Web Application Firewall (WAF) such as Cloudflare or Amazon AWS. This will protect your website from a number of online attack types such as SQL injections or cross-site scripting.
  4. Note that Google could also include known vulnerabilities that aren’t platform-specific in their passive scans, such as the OWASP Top 10. The OWASP updates each year and identifies the top 10 flaws that are being exploited by hackers. You should stay on top of their recommendations and updates.

How Do I Know If I’ve Been Hacked?

There are a number of articles and studies that claim that the ‘This site may be hacked’ message only appears on 50% of all websites that have been hacked. While Google now says they will flag malicious redirects they identify via Google Search Console, you still can’t rely on Google as your only indicator as to whether your site has been compromised.

In my experience, keeping an eye on your Search Console data for anomalies is worthwhile. In one case, I saw a non-sports related site start to inexplicably gain impressions for cheap NFL jerseys and sportswear terms. This turned out to be “bait & switch” hacking:  the hackers had managed to inject around 500 sportswear-related pages, and all redirected to another website via JavaScript. What did the hackers gain from all this? An affiliate fee from the click.

Lastly, if you’re seeing an unexplained drop in traffic or rankings, hacking should be considered (as one of many possibilities).

Putting the User First

Google has been both reactive and proactive to the change in search behavior, as users move to spend more time on mobile vs desktop.

Given that their Webmaster’s blog post also promotes the vision of a no hack web (sporting the #NoHack hashtag), in my opinion there is a strong case for Google incorporating both passive scans and/or ranking incentives for websites that are secure beyond HTTPS encryption. Google already takes into account whether or not a website affects “your money or your life” (YMYL), so passive scans could be an extension of this philosophy, as a hacked website could obviously impact a user in profoundly negative ways.

Author : Dan Taylor

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com/will-google-search-give-weight-cybersecurity-2017-beyond/184145/

Categorized in Internet Privacy

DuckDuckGo revealed it has hit a milestone of 14 million searches in a single day. In addition, the search engine is celebrating a combined total of 10 billion searches performed, with 4 billion searches conducted in December 2016 alone.

For a niche search engine that many people don’t know exists, that’s some notable year-over-year growth. Around this same time last year, DuckDuckGo was serving 8–9 million searches per day on average.

DuckDuckGo is a search engine which has built its reputation on privacy and transparency. All searches are performed anonymously, meaning the company doesn’t track or record data about its users. It’s also one of the most transparent search engines in the sense that it makes its own data publicly available for everyone to see.

According to the company, it is growing faster than ever, which could be credited to the fact that people are actively looking for ways to reduce their digital footprint. DuckDuckGo cites a study from Pew Research which states: “40% think that their search engine provider shouldn’t retain information about their activity.”

Staying true to its mission, the company donated $225,000 to nine organizations that are also dedicated to raising the standard of trust online. DuckDuckGo is on the hunt for privacy-focused organizations to donate to this year, so if you have any in mind give them a shout.

Author : Matt Southern

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com/duckduckgo-hits-milestone-14-million-searches-single-day/184179/

Categorized in Search Engine

A new Canadian-made Internet search tool that detects child sexual abuse images online has logged more than five million unique web pages with 40,000 images in the past six weeks alone, the Toronto Star has learned.

Project Arachnid, created by the Winnipeg-based Canadian Centre for Child Protection, is searching 150 web links a second for child abuse imagery in an effort to have it removed from public view, a form of lingering abuse for victims.

When the search tool identifies illegal material, the centre sends notices to the site host requesting its removal.

“If we can make this content more difficult to find, the breadth of exposure for victims will diminish over time,” says Signy Arnason, director of Cypertip.ca, a project of the Centre which receives tips about child abuse from across the world.

One of the most powerful findings from an international survey of 128 child abuse victims being released today by the centre is the lifelong impact that exploitative images published online can have on victims, including ongoing paranoia and fear of being stalked, sleeplessness, poor self-image, “powerlessness” and “shame and humiliation.”

“The fact that images/videos of a child’s sexual abuse were created at all, not to mention that they may still be possessed by the abuser and be publicly available for others to access, has an enormous negative impact on the individual,” the study says. “The impact can perpetuate into adulthood and may reduce the ability of an individual to recover and function in society.”

Among respondents, 73 per cent said they worry about being recognized; 88 per cent believe it has affected their education/academics; 91 per cent believe it has affected their employment; and 93 per cent believe it has affected friendships.

Author : ROBERT CRIBB

Source : https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2017/01/17/new-web-searcher-digs-into-the-internet-darkest-corners.html

Categorized in Online Research

You want to know a little more about an internet date or a potential new hire at work, but you don't want to necessarily need a comprehensive background check and definitely don't want to pay for one. With a little know-how and help from the world wide web, you don't have to. Here's how to vet someone online for free without being creepy.

It's prudent to know if you're going to be meeting someone sane for a date. If you're hiring someone new or at least part of the decision at work, you may want to know a little bit about the guy or gal who will be sharing your office for the foreseeable future. Several years ago, I had a stranger situation where the doorman in my building opened my mail, invited me to his house for dinner, looked up my cell phone number in the building directory to call me at home, and more. I wanted to know who this person was, to get a better idea of how concerned I should be, and the internet helped me out. Learning about others online can be useful when you have a legitimate reason to know, but it can be pretty creepy if you're basically becoming an online stalker. Some of these tactics are pretty reasonable ways to learn some useful information about another person and some are pretty in-depth. Use them at your own discretion and only for good. Please don't go out and become another creep on the internet.

Warning: Don't Sabotage Yourself

Before you get started, it's important to understand what you're doing and the impact it's going to have. While you can find out a lot of information about a person without their consent, you'll often miss the details either because they're not available or you're not looking for them. For example, you could find out someone you're thinking of dating is a type 3 sex offender. They could be a serial rapist who took a plea bargain and got away with a lower charge or they could have dated a sophomore when they were a senior in high school and been caught with their clothes off in their car by a policeman. Address history, bad credit, education, favorite movies, and all sorts of things can paint a very specific picture about a person in your head, but without context, that picture could be very skewed. If you come across any information that worries (or excites) you, ask about it. Your knee-jerk assumptions may be far from the truth.

Find Free Public Records 

Public record sites seem like a convenience because all you have to do is enter a name, pay a fee, and you get more information about a person than you probably want. In many cities, however, it's very easy to get these public records yourself—for free—without much more effort. Sometimes this isn't the case, as policies can differ significantly between cities and states, so you'll have to do a little research. The best place to start is the Free Public Records Search Directory. Presumably you already know the general area where the person lives, and this site can help you find out how to gather unrestricted information in that area. In some cases you may need to apply for a permit and wait a little while or perform the records search in a government building (as opposed to within your own home), potentially making this method a little pointless. Nonetheless, a few searches should be easily and freely accessible in the area you're looking.

If you're only concerned about the bigger problems, check the National Sex Offender Registry or perform a criminal records search in your area of choice. For example, my home state of Minnesota offers several searches, from registered sex offenders to fugitives to every public criminal record on file. While you can find these easily with a simple web search, Wikipedia lists every state with links to their relevant sites. You may not always be able to find everything you want through public records, but with a little effort you can gather a ridiculous amount of information fairly quickly.

Use People Search Engines

The internet offers several search engines dedicated to finding information about a given person. While it's not always the best way to find the information you're looking for, it's generally a good means of locating enough data that you can cross-reference to find what you want. (More on this later.) We have a couple of favorites.

Pipl is very comprehensive and doesn't require more than a name. If you provide it with additional information, it will provide you with more accurate results. What's both great and problematic about Pipl is that it attempts to profile a person like it knows them. When it's correct, it gives you a very comprehensive look at a person. If it's not, you may end up believing false information about a person. For example, Pipl believed I'm 27 (which is true) but thought I could also be 51 (which isn't). It also confused me with Shunsuke Adachi a few times, because we both employ the same username: adachis. Generally you can detect when false information pops up in these profiles, but it's important to look out for discrepancies. It's very easy to miss what you're not looking for.

123People is equally comprehensive but asks for both a name and location (although the location can be as vague as a country). It also sorts its results into separate categories, which is great if you're looking for something specific. It also provides you with a means of obtaining additional information through paid public record searches, but presumably you're trying to avoid those if you're reading this post. That said, 123People is nicely organized and can be a great starting point when you're trying to find social media accounts and other places to look for more.

When using these sites, it's very important to remember that there's a high chance of finding information that's either inaccurate or about a different person with the same/similar name. Even though I am the only Adam Max Dachis on the planet, these searches still pulled information about other people. They're great as a starting point, or when you have a means of verifying what you find, but it's best to go in with the assumption that everything you find is wrong. You absolutely want to give the target of your search the benefit of the doubt and verify anything you find before you believe it. These search engines do find accurate, good information—otherwise we wouldn't recommend them—but they're imperfect. Remember that before you search.

Cross-Reference What You Know

While people-centric search engines can be helpful, regular search engines can often provide you with the best information. This only works, of course, if you already have some information to go on and can cross-reference everything you find. For example, say you come across your target's email address and it's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (apologies if this is a real email address). You can start out by searching for the entire email address and you might find a few things, but chances are all you need is awesomeguy1017. Your target has likely used it to register accounts on other sites, and simply searching for the name can bring them up.

Once you find some success with cross-referencing, you'll have more information you can use for the same purpose. You'll also find pictures and other telling data that will help you determine whether what you find is accurate or not. You'll rarely have trouble getting search results, but cross-checking and verifying is vital. If you go on believing false or incorrect information, you're doing yourself and your target a disservice. It's important to remember that your goal is to find truth and not just anything at all.

A good way to make sure you don't miss anything important is to use multiple search engines. These days it can be easy to just fall back on Google and never look anywhere else. You'll likely find that using multiple search engines will make it easier to find additional results you would have missed. Sometimes you'll just have the top ten organized differently and you won't discover anything new, but generally there will be a page or two that one search engine considers far more important than another. Make sure you check more than one to avoid missing something that matters.

When All Else Fails, Be an Attractive Stranger (on Facebook)

In general, you'll want to stick to finding information that's publicly available using the methods described above. An email address or Twitter handle can lead to usernames on more niche sites and forums so you can find a lot this way. However, if you're not finding much you can often fill in a lot of the blanks with the help of Facebook. Ideally your acquaintance is someone you'll feel comfortable friending yourself and you can gain access to their profile and wall—or at least portions of it—by sending a simple request. If that's not an option, however, you can pretend to be someone else. More specifically, an attractive stranger.

First things first: this is a fairly deceptive method and kind of a creepy thing to do. For the most part, you should never hunt down information about people by tricking them. That said, there are some circumstances where protecting yourself justifies being a little creepy, so use your own judgment because you essentially become a detestable Facebook stalker.

This method is pretty simple: you just create a fake account and use it to send a friend request to the the person you're investigating. It helps to have an attractive photo, some mutual friends, and similar interests. You want to be casual when sending the request, and if it doesn't work out don't push it. This is a last-ditch effort and definitely encroaches on a person's privacy. Only do it if you have a good reason and everything else has failed. Most people live at least somewhat in public these days, and the other methods should serve you well without the need to resort to deception.

Author : Adam Dachis

Source : http://lifehacker.com/5845900/how-to-use-the-internet-to-investigate-your-next-date-co-worker-or-new-friend-to-ensure-theyre-not-crazy

Categorized in How to

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