[This article is originally published in qz.com written by Matthew De Silva - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Jay Harris]

Google might be stunting your online experience. Today, 75% of desktop and laptop searches pass through the world’s most popular search engine. Google’s next closest competitor, the Chinese search giant Baidu, accounts for just 12%.

Like compasses, search engines are useful tools, guiding us through the oceans of online information. But unlike compasses, they are often dynamic and personalized. Search engines gather data and learn from each input. While that customized aspect makes our searches more efficient, it can subtly undermine our autonomy.

“[W]hen you search, you expect unbiased results, but that’s not what you get on Google,” Gabriel Weinberg, founder of DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine, writes on Quora. “On Google, you get results tailored to what they think you’re likely to click on, based on the data profile they’ve built on you over time.”

On the surface, that may seem innocuous. But if our options are algorithmically curated, that removes our choice and diminishes our exposure to challenging viewpoints. Weinberg believes filtered searches engines like Google create echo chambers and further polarize society. Through clicks, we construct our own barriers, and eventually, we might become too blind to know they exist.

DuckDuckGo daily direct search queries

DuckDuckGo daily direct search queries

Alternative search engines like DuckDuckGo and Qwant—a French company—are growing in popularity. Because these tools don’t track users, they are less precise than Google, but they help users avoid “filter bubbles” that limit what they see. DuckDuckGo recently surpassed 35 million daily direct search queries. Google, meanwhile, processes 5.5 billion searches per day. Obviously, that’s a massive gap, but the market for privacy-preserving search is growing worldwide.

Google’s advertising machine is another reason to consider other search engines. By studying our search behavior, products are promoted to us by advertisers who have a direct line to our most intimate thoughts and desires. Our online profiles are caricatures of our true selves, but in a very real way, our searches can shape who we become. Advertisers are interjecting themselves, almost invisibly, into this information exchange.

We often treat Google like our personal encyclopedia. The search engine’s sleek design can make us forget that it’s not a private getaway or even an extension of ourselves. Alternative search engines, though, do not fit seamlessly into our digital lives. That honesty is refreshing and it helps remind a person of the physical-digital divide.

If changing your default search engine seems too inconvenient, you can opt out of Google’s personalization, revoking access to search and location histories. Although it’s a mild annoyance, it can help us acknowledge the blinders Google has erected around our queries.

About six months ago, I created a new Google account, so my username would sound more professional. As I used the new profile, I was amazed by how little Google knew about the “new” me. YouTube had forgotten my love of basketball and ice hockey highlights. Instead, I saw recommendations for Vine compilations and prank videos. On search, I no longer saw advertisements for cryptocurrency conferences. Making a new profile showed me that I could recreate myself and have an entirely different online experience. That was unsettling, but eye-opening.

By changing your privacy and advertising settings, you can climb out of Google’s digital silo to encounter the real and unfiltered world. It might require more effort to find what you’re looking for—but at least you’ll know that you’re doing it on your own terms.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in searchenginejournal.com written by Dave Davies - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Joshua Simon]

As SEO professionals, we generally focus on the question, “How do I rank my page?”

An equally, if not more important question we should be asking is, “How do search engines rank pages?”

Why Search Engines Rank Webpages

Before we dive into how search engines rank webpages let’s stop for a moment and think about why they rank them.

After all, it would be cheaper and easier for them to simply display pages randomly, by word count, by freshness, or any of a variety of easy sorting systems.

The reason they don’t do that is obvious. You wouldn’t use it.

So when we ask the question about rankings, what we need to always keep in mind is that the user we are trying to satisfy is not ours, they belong to the engine and the engines are loaning them to us.

If we misuse that user, they may not return to the engine and thus the engine can’t have that as their ad revenue will decline.

I like to think of the scenario like some of the resource pages on our own site.

If we recommend a tool or service, it is based on our experience with them and we believe they will serve our visitors as well. If we hear they do not, then we will remove them from our site.

That’s what the engines are doing.

But how?

Disclaimer

I do not have eavesdropping devices at Google or Bing. Google has one sitting on my desk and another I carry around with me when I’m not at it but for some reason, the message pickup doesn’t work the other way.

I state this to make clear that the following outline is based on about 20 years of watching the search engines evolve, reading patents (or more often – Bill Slawski’s analysis of patents), and starting each day for many years by reviewing the goings on in the industry from SERP layout changes to acquisitions to algo updates.

Take what I am saying as a highly educated breakdown that’s probably about 90 percent right. If you’re wondering why I think 90 percent – I learned from Bing’s Frederic Dubut that 90 percent is a great number to use when guesstimating.

It’s Only A Simple 5 Steps – Easy

There are five steps to the complete process of ranking a page.

I am not including the technical challenges like load-balancing obviously and I’m not talking about each various signal calculation.

I’m just talking about the core process that every query needs to go through to start its life as an information request and end it as a set of 10 blue links buried beneath a sea of ads.

Understand this process, understand who it is designed to serve, and you will be on your way to thinking properly about how to rank your pages to their users.

I also feel it’s necessary to note that the words used for these steps are mine and not some type of official name. Feel free to use them but don’t expect any one of the engines to use the same terminology.

Step 1: Classify

The first step in the process is to classify the query coming in. The classification of the query gives the engine the information it needs to perform all of the following steps.

Before complex classification could take place (read: back when the engines relied on keywords instead of entities) the engines basically had to apply the same signals to all queries. As we will explore further below, this is no longer the case.

It’s in this first stage that the engine will apply such labels (again, not a technical term but an easy way to think about it) to a query such as:

  • YMYL
  • Local
  • Unseen
  • Adult
  • Question

I have no idea how many different classifications there are but the first step the engine would need to make is to determine which apply to any given query.

Step 2: Context

The second step in the ranking process is to assign context.

Where possible, the engine needs to take into account any relevant information they have on the user entering the query.

We see this regularly for queries, even those we don’t ask. We see them here:

google weather

And we see them here:

google mobile apps

The latter, of course, being an example of where I didn’t specifically enter the query.

Essentially, the second stage in the process is for the engine to determine what environmental and historical factors come into play.

They know the category of the query, here they apply, determine or pull the data related to elements deemed relevant for that query category and type.

Some examples of environmental and historical information that would be considered are:

  • Location
  • Time
  • Whether the query is a question
  • The device being used for the query
  • The format being used for the query
  • Whether the query relates to previous queries
  • Whether they have seen that query before

Step 3: Weights

Before we dive in let me ask you, how sick are you of hearing about RankBrain?

Well, buckle up because we’re about to bring it up again but only as an example of this third step.

Before an engine can determine what pages should rank they first need to determine which signals are most important.

For a query like [civil war] we get a result that looks like:

america civil war

Solid result. But what happens if freshness had played a strong role? We’d end up with a result more like:

google search america civil war

But we can’t rule out freshness. Had the query been [best shows on netflix], I’d care less about authority and more about how recently it was published.

I hardly want a heavily linked piece from 2008 outlining the best DVDs to order on their service.

So, with the query type in hand as well as the context elements pulled the engine can now rely on their understanding of which of their signals applies and with which weightings for the given combinations.

Some of this can certainly be accomplished manually by the many talented engineers and computer scientists employed and part of it will be handled by systems like RankBrain which is (for the 100th time) a machine learning algorithm designed to adjust the signal weights for previously unseen queries but later introduced into Google’s algorithms as a whole.

With the statement that roughly 90 percent of its ranking algorithms rely on machine learning, it can reasonably be assumed that Bing has similar systems.

Step 4: Layout

We’ve all seen it. In fact, you can see it in the civil war example above. For different queries the search results page layout changes.

The engines will determine what possible formats apply to a query intent, the user running the query and the available resources.

The full page of the SERP for [civil war] looks like:

google search america civil war layout

I’ve put an educated guess on the core factor used to determine when each element is present.

The truth is, it’s a moving target and relies on a knowledge of entities, how they connect, and how they are weighted. That’s a highly complex subject so we won’t dive into it here.

What’s important to understand in the context of this piece is that the different elements of any given search results page need to be determined more-or-less on the fly.

This is to say, when a query is run and the first three steps completed the engine will reference a database of the various possible elements to inset onto the page, the possible placements and then determine which will apply to the specific query.

An Aside: I noted above that the search results pages were generated more-or-less on the fly.

While this would be true of infrequent queries, for common queries it is far more likely that the engines keep a database of which elements they have already calculated to fit the likely user intent so as to not have to process that each time.

I would imagine there is a time limit on it after which it refreshes and I suspect that it refreshes the full entry at time of low use.

But moving on, the engine now knows the classification of a query, the context the information is being requested in, the signal weights that apply to such a query, and the layout most likely to meet the various possible intents for a query.

Finally, it’s time for ranking.

Step 5: Ranking

Interestingly, this is probably the easiest step of the process, though not as singular as one might think.

When we think of organic rankings we think of the 10 blue links. So let’s start there and look at the process thus far:

  • The user enters a query.
  • The engine considers the type of query and classifies it to understand what key criteria apply at a high level based on similar or identical previous query interactions.
  • The engine considers the user’s position in space and time to consider their likely intents.
  • The engine takes the query classifications and user-specific signals and uses this to determine which signals should hold what weights.
  • The engine uses the above data to also determine which layouts, formats, and additional data may satisfy or supplement the user’s intent.

With all this in hand and with an algorithm already written, the engine needs simply crunch the numbers.

They will pull in the various sites that can be considered for ranking, apply the weights to their algorithms, and crunch the number to determine the order that the sites should appear in the search results.

Of course, they must do this for each element on the page in various ways.

Videos, stories, entities, and information all change, so the engines need to order not just the blue links but everything else on the page as well.

In Short

The ranking of the site is easy. It’s putting everything together to do it that’s the real work.

You may ask how understanding this can help you with your SEO efforts. It’s like understanding the core functions of how your computer works. I can’t build a processor, but I know what they do, and I know what characteristics make for a faster one and how cooling impacts them.

Knowing this results in me having a faster machine that I need to update and upgrade far less often.

The same is true for SEO.

If you understand the core of how the engine function you will understand your place in that ecosystem. And that will result in strategies designed with the engine in mind and serving the real user – their user.

[This article is originally published in technobleak.com written by Kunal Ambadekar - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Mercedes J. Steinman]

“The Next Generation Search Engines market 2018 – 2023 report cover very impotent details” The Next Generation Search Engines Market report categorizes the market-based Trends, future prospect, Market share, size depending on the total research. And also provide technology, product cost, gross margin, and revenue The report highlights the market size and the important segments, providing quick relevant information about the Next Generation Search Engines market.

The Next Generation Search Engines Market has described the present market scenario in a well-ordered way, highlight the Company development important players engaged in the current market, market identification, industry strategy that will assist our readers to aim regarding Next Generation Search Engines outlook and promote strength and success.

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To analyze and research the Next Generation Search Engines Market status and future forecast, involving capacity, production, value, consumption, growth rate, market share, historical and forecast.

1. To present the key manufacturers, capacity, production, revenue, market share, and recent development.

2. To cut the breakdown data by regions, type, manufacturers, and applications.

3. To analyze the key regions market potential and advantage, opportunity and challenge, restraints and risks.

4. To identify significant trends, drivers, influence factors in regions.

5. To analyze company developments such as expansions, agreements, new product launches

Next Generation Search Engines Market report 2018 to 2023 focus on major drivers and key players. Next Generation Search Engines market research provides analysis of the market demand, revenue forecasts of the market. The market research report is details study on the industry.

Major Regions covers:-

North America

Europe

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Next Generation Search Engines market will prove as a valuable source of guidance for professional clients like Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 level managers, CEOs, CMOs, as well as the interested individual reader’s across the world. Vendor Landscape provide acts as a key development and focus of above professional with common aim to lead the way of Ceramic Sanitary Ware market Worldwide.

Next Generation Search Engines Market Overview:

Later, the report focuses on regions operational coverage across the world mainly sales (K Units), revenue (Million USD), market share and growth rate variable within each region depending upon its capacity. This research also results to measure global Ceramic Sanitary Ware competitors according to specific regions for development and compound growth rate

Significant Market Features:

This report features mainly top to bottom approach to target key aspects of Ceramic Sanitary Ware market that includes, Gross Revenue, CAGR, Key Players, Cost Structure, Production Capacity, Sales Analysis, and Future Growth Trends projected on the basis of historical Ceramic Sanitary Ware research.

About Worldwide Market Reports:-

Worldwide Market Reports is your one-stop repository of detailed and in-depth market research reports compiled by an extensive list of publishers from across the globe. We offer reports across virtually all domains and an exhaustive list of sub-domains under the sun. WMR well-researched inputs that encompass domains enable our prized clients to capitalize upon key growth opportunities and shield against credible threats prevalent in the market in the current scenario and those expected in the near future.

Categorized in Market Research

[This article is originally published in digitaljournal.com - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Jason bourne]

“ONIONLANDSEARCHENGINE.COM“

People know only one name Google, a search engine by default setting on everyone PC's and works just like water for all. But now a new deep search engine with new specifications. OnionLand Search Engine launched a new search engine i.e.; onionlandsearchengine.com. It is not merely provided deep web information but Anonymity for every user.

OnionLand Search Engine introducing and expanding this new search engine with excellent key features; good results and high-quality access to the information that people actually require with one click. There is a vast section of the Internet which is hidden and not accessible through regular search engines and web browsers. This part of the Internet is known as the Deep Web, and it is about 500 times the size of the Web that we know and everyone can have access to all this information without been tracked, maintaining total anonymity.

Search engines like Google are incredibly powerful, but they can't crawl and index the vast amount of data that is not hyperlinked or accessed via public DNS services. However, there are Deep Web Search Engines that crawl over the TOR network and bring the same result to your regular browser. But, what if, you can still be able to dig the Darknet contents with your regular browsers, without the need of TOR?

OnionLand Search Engine is bringing a big change in human's life because of its Deep Web and Anonymity that you may not be able to find in a giant search engine like Google. OnionLand is introducing and marketing onionlandsearchengine.com with highly effective strategies and trying to make it default search engine by replacing Google and it seems very effective as onionlandsearchengine.com is really changing the lives of people by giving them suggestion options.

Categorized in Deep Web

[This article is originally published in searchengineland.com written by Barry Schwartz - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Grace Irwin]

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 of 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 (questions & 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:

Google FAQs QA and How Tos

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 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.

But if you review the Schema.org website, you can find a lot of this markup available already, including HowTo markupQA page markup, and FAQ markup. So if you want to get started early, consider adding the appropriate markup to the sections of your HTML.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in searchengineland.com written by Amy Gesenhues - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Carol R. Venuti]

Users no longer have to go to their Google Account page to access privacy controls

Google updated its user privacy controls on Wednesday, allowing users to delete their search activity — and control the ads the see — directly from the Google Search home page both on desktop and the mobile web, as well as from the Google Search iOS app.

As long as a user is signed into their account, they will be able to access their search data without having to go to their Google Account page and click through to the “Personal info & privacy” settings. On the mobile web experience, “Your data in Search” will be a persistent menu item on the home page as well as on results pages.

Google search data

Why search marketers should care

Since news broke that Cambridge Analytica had used an app to harvest and exploit Facebook user data and then the later launch of the EU’s GDPR legislation, Google and other popular online platforms have been forced to pay more attention to how they store user data and be more transparent about how that data is used for ad targeting purposes.

While this latest update from Google is a step in the right direction in terms of user privacy, advertisers could be impacted in two ways. First, it’s now easier for users to delete and control their search data, making it more difficult to target ads to them. Second, users will be able to react more quickly to ads they don’t want to see. One could argue that such controls would help advertisers avoid serving ads to likely unresponsive audiences, therefore allowing them to focus on more receptive individuals.

“To control the ads you see when you search, we give you access to your Ad Settings. Additionally, you can access your Activity Controls to decide what information Google saves to your account and uses to make Search and other Google services faster, smarter and more useful,” writes Google’s director of product management, Eric Miraglia.

your data in search

Giving users more direct access to control what information Google saves will potentially limit available ad targeting data. But, whether or not such efforts will impact advertisers will depend on how readily users avail themselves of these privacy tools. Certainly, having a call-to-action on its desktop home page, and a menu option within the mobile experience, will make this more top-of-mind for Google searchers.

More on Google’s latest user privacy control updates

  • The updates are rolling out on desktop, mobile web and the Google Search app for iOS on Wednesday, but won’t be available on the Android app until the coming weeks.
  • Google says it plans to expand these privacy control efforts to Google Maps in 2019, followed by releases in “many” other Google products.
  • In addition to being able to delete recent search activity, control ad settings and have access to Activity Controls, users will also see a “How activity data makes Search work” message aimed at educating them on how their settings and activity on Google impact search results.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in searchengineland.com written by Michelle Robbins - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Jasper Solander]

Google updates the search results features with an expanded featured snippet targeting broad, nuanced queries

Google has been rolling out many new search features over the past few months related to images, featured snippets, and the knowledge graph. Today the search giant released another feature called “multifaceted featured snippets.”

Multifaceted featured snippets will be surfaced for queries that are sufficiently broad enough to allow for more than one interpretation of what was submitted. In these instances, the SERP returned will include more than one featured snippet, with the original query rewritten as the questions the algorithm assumes the user may have intended, and the results displayed in the multifaceted snippet will reflect those new questions.

From the announcement:

  • There are several types of nuanced queries where showing more comprehensive results could be helpful. We’re starting first with “multi-intent” queries, which are queries that have several potential intentions or purposes associated. The query “tooth pain after a filling,” for example, could be interpreted as “why does my tooth still hurt after a filling?” or “how long should a tooth hurt after a filling?”

For example:

garden need full su

Multifaceted Featured Snippets vs. Multi-Perspective Answers

Back in December, Bing began rolling out AI-powered multi-perspective answers as part of its “Intelligent Search” set of new features, which includes Intelligent Answers, Intelligent Image Search and Conversational Search. Multi-perspective answers are just one of the “Intelligent Answers” features that has been live since the rollout. These results surface two (or more) authoritative sources on a topic, and will typically include differing perspectives/answers to the query.

Bing leverages its deep recurrent neural network models to determine similarity and sentiment among authoritative sources, and extracts the multiple viewpoints related to a topic — providing the most relevant set of multi-perspective answers (covered in more detail here).

is cofee good for you

Google’s multifaceted featured snippets may appear not too dissimilar from Bing’s multi-perspective answers, in that they also provide multiple rich results for a single query, but they are instead based on the presumed multiple intentions of a query (resulting in both multiple queries and results) vs. multiple viewpoints resulting from a single query. With these types of broad queries, many interpretations of what the user is actually asking can exist.

Multifaceted snippets aim to provide a more comprehensive and actionable set of results for these multi-intent query scenarios. They differ from multi-perspective intelligent answers in that they presume a different question might be being asked altogether, and surface responses for each of the queries the algorithm assumes the user may have actually intended, as the screenshot below demonstrates:

associative property of addition rule

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in thenextweb.com written by IVAN MEHTA - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Dana W. Jimenez] 

Google has launched a dedicated dataset search website to help journalists and researchers unearth publicly available data that can aid in their projects. Traditionally, researchers have relied on sources like the World Bank, NASA, and ProPublica or search engines like Kaggle. This new tool will make their work much easier.

The website takes Google’s familiar approach and design for search and applies it to datasets published across the web. So if you need to look at historical weather trends, you can use a simple query like “daily weather” to begin your research. Plus, the engine supports shortcuts that work on Google’s regular search tool, like ‘weather site:noaa.gov’ to retrieve results only from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agency in the US

The company explained that the new tool scrapes government databases, public sources, digital libraries, and personal websites to track down the datasets you’re looking for. If they’re structured using schema.org’s markup or similar equivalents described by the W3C, Google can find it. It already supports multiple languages and will add support for more of them soon.

This year, Google has focused on a lot of initiatives directed towards journalists. In July, it had rolled out an improved representation of tabular data in search results. In India, it has launched a program to train journalists to identify misinformation. And at its developer conference earlier this year, it rolled out a revamped Google News with improved personalization and discovery features.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in news.bitcoin.com written by Kai Sedgwick - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Robert Hensonw]

In this latest edition of our periodic deep web series, we bring news of Tor 8 – the most feature-rich onion browser yet. We also take a first look at a clearnet web browser that trawls the darknet, and cover the fallout from the Alphabay shutdown, whose repercussions rumble on to this day.

Tor 8 Looks Great

The Tor Project has released its latest and greatest browser yet. Tor 8 is a slick looking beast compared to the Tor browsers of yore, partially thanks to its incorporation of Firefox Quantum, which allows for better page rendering and other subtle tweaks. With Tor 8, there’s a new welcome screen to guide first-time users through the process of connecting to the deep web, and there are additional security protections built in. A Tor Circuit button can now be used to switch servers at random, further obfuscating users’ connection route.

The Tor Project

The Tor Circuit button in action

Tor 8 comes with HTTPS Everywhere and Noscript, and it is recommended that users enable these add-ons, as they’re critical in maximizing anonymity while browsing the web. While the Tor browser is best known as a tool for navigating the dark web, it can also be deployed as a privacy-friendly clearnet browser which minimizes cookies and other web trackers. Finally, the new improved Tor makes it easier to circumvent firewalls in countries where internet censorship is rife. Its development team explains:

For users where Tor is blocked, we have previously offered a handful of bridges in the browser to bypass censorship. But to receive additional bridges, you had to send an email or visit a website, which posed a set of problems. To simplify how you request bridges, we now have a new bridge configuration flow when you when you launch Tor. Now all you have to do is solve a captcha in Tor Launcher, and you’ll get a bridge IP. We hope this simplification will allow more people to bypass censorship and browse the internet freely and privately.

Deep Web Gets a Clearnet Search Engine

Searching the deep web has traditionally been harder than with its clearnet counterpart. The absence of a darknet Google is arguably part of its appeal, making onion sites accessible only to those who know what they’re looking for. It was this barrier to entry that ensured sites like Silk Road were accessible solely to technically adept users in bitcoin’s early days. The deep web has opened up significantly since then, giving up its secrets, and in the same week that Tor released its most user-friendly browser yet, it’s perhaps fitting that a clearnet search engine for the deep web should launch. Onionlandsearchengine.com is a simple but effective tool for generating deep web search results without needing to first connect to the deep web.

Deep Web Gets a Clearnet Search Engine

Onionland deep web search engine

US Government Authorized to Seize Alphabay Suspect’s Assets

Long after deep web marketplaces have been shut down, the fallout continues to make its mark in US courtrooms. Silk Road, Hansa, and Alphabay’s legal wranglings periodically make the news, despite the years elapsed since the sites were first seized. As evidence of this, consider the ruling by a recent US magistrate judge granting the federal government permission to seize and sell millions of dollars worth of assets associated with Alexandre Cazes. The reputed Alphabay ringleader had $8 million of assets on his driveway alone at the time of this arrest in a string of high performance sports cars. Including cryptocurrencies, his total net worth was eventually calculated at $23 million.

US Government Authorized to Seize Alphabay Suspects Assets

The US government’s application for Alphabay asset seizure

Among the showier items in Cazes’ collection was a Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 worth almost $1 million with a license plate that read “Tor”. The late Alphabay boss certainly wasn’t subtle, but for all his sins, it is hard not to feel sorry for the 25-year-old who wound up dead in a Bangkok cell from suicide, another needless victim of the war on drugs.

Categorized in Deep Web

[This article is originally published in choice.com.au  - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Jay Harris]

Do you search the web for information, or do you just 'Google it'? Such is the popularity of Google's web search engine that it's become a household word and the default go-to for finding any information online. But you can do it better and we can show you how.

  • Why Google?
  • Boolean for you – search shortcuts
  • Reverse image search
  • Even Google can get it wrong
  • What about privacy?
  • Snoop-free searches
  • Alternative search engines
Whether you use text or image search, knowing a little more about how to use search terms can find your results faster and more accurately in Google and other search engines (yes, they exist – hello Bing and Duckduckgo).

Why Google?

Google is the world's most powerful and pervasive search engine. The company synonymous with search commands a staggering 93% of the Australian search market. Its nearest competitor, Microsoft's Bing, has just under 5% of the market, with others picking up the crumbs.

There are plenty of hidden ways to improve a Google search to ensure you get the fastest and most accurate results, as well as reasons to be wary of the search giant.

The best way to get the results you want is to keep your search simple and trust Google's algorithm. Searching for "time in San Francisco" or "weather in Sydney" will return immediate results.

 

Privacy concerns aside, for the moment (more on that later), the more Google knows about you, the better results it gives. So, if you allow Google to know your location, it can use that information to better guess the results you're after. For example, a search on "USD $10" will provide an instant conversion to Australian dollars, while a search on "5 foot 6" will show the same measurement in meters. 

Boolean for you – search shortcuts

If you want to go further, Google has shortcuts that will improve the speed and accuracy of your searches. Common examples are using the 'operators' AND, OR and NOT to refine your search by combining or limiting terms. These shortcuts are technically called 'boolean operators', a fun fact for your next dinner party.

A few quick shortcuts to remember: 
  • Quotation marks Using quotation marks around a phrase will limit your search to that exact phrase. A search for amazing spiderman will return results with those three words used anywhere, in any context. A search for "amazing spiderman" will only return results with that exact phrase. 
  • Google search a specific site A search of site:choice.com.au washing machines will only return results from CHOICE. 
  • Remove words to narrow a search with the minus sign A search of jaguar speed -car will exclude results containing the animal but not the prestige vehicle. 
  • Use asterisk as a wildcard If you're looking for a phrase but aren't sure of every word, "these are not the * you're looking for" should return the results you're after. 
Google continually improves its search to make these commands simpler, or in some cases unnecessary, so today a search for "eiffel tower wiki" will return the same information as "site:wikipedia.org eiffel tower".

Reverse image search 

One of the most amazing, little-known features of Google Image Search is the Reverse Image Search feature. Simply click on the camera icon in the search bar to upload an image on your computer, and Google will scan and analyse the image and try to identify what's in the frame. 

Search by image

When searching for an image with Google, you have the ability to filter your results based on some powerful criteria. Just click on the Tools button underneath the search bar, and from there you'll see a few hidden dropdown menus allowing you to specify the size, colour, type, time and usage rights of your results. 

Google reverse search

Two options worth exploring are usage rights and color. From the Usage Rights menu, you can filter images by their license. "Reuse with modification" means you can take the image, edit it, and reuse it on a website or in a PowerPoint presentation. Noncommercial reuse will still allow you to use the image, but as the name suggests, you'll be limited to using the image in educational or not-for-profit situations. 

These classifications are based on the Creative Commons license, so it's worth clicking through on your results to confirm Google is giving you the correct licensing information, and whether you need to attribute the original creator in your work.

creative commons

Searching for an image with the color filter of yellow will unsurprisingly return images that are predominantly yellow. This becomes powerful when you're collecting multiple images for a PowerPoint presentation or website, and you want a uniform color to evoke a certain emotion, or to fit in with your corporate branding.

Colour search

Even Google can get it wrong

Despite Google's dominant market share and wealth of talent, even it can make some embarrassing mistakes in search results. Google has found itself caught up in its own fake news controversies of late, declaring Donald Trump the winner of not just the electoral college but the popular vote in the 2016 election, and stating there is no coral bleaching happening on the Great Barrier Reef.

Google has long battled with users gaming its algorithm, mainly to rank higher in search for commercial purposes, but more recently to infect the autocomplete results with hateful information, or to promote false claims.

What makes these mistakes even more disturbing is it is these "instant answers" and "news snippets" that power the voice search of Google's Home Assistant. Without the context of a screen, attribution, and a page of conflicting results underneath, Home's voice answers, no matter how wrong, can sound authoritative.

Privacy trade-off

There are many reasons to choose an alternative to Google, the least of which is its frightening monopoly on search. Google may have the stated mission of "organising the world's information", but it's worth remembering Google makes money off advertising, and part of the company's tremendous success in this area is due to the tracking and profiling it does on its users.
 
  


Every search you perform on Google is registered against your IP address – giving Google the ability to create a simple snapshot of who you are, where you live and what your interests are. If you're signed into any of Google's other services – Maps, YouTube, Gmail – then Google has an account to assign that IP address and all data coming from it, further fleshing out their profile of you.  

Once Google knows who you are, it will follow you around the internet, thanks to the cookies and Google Ads that adorn almost every popular page. As a general rule, if you can see ads on a website, those ads can see you too and have followed you across the web. 

Even more, if you use an Android phone, Google almost certainly has all your physical location history from the last few years, unless you've specifically asked your phone not to track you. iPhone users are asked to share this same location information when installing any of Google's suite of apps – yes, even the YouTube app will ask you for your location. 

This might all sound a little creepy, but this is the deal we make with Google to access its services for free. And, of course, you can choose not to. I use Google Photos, even though Google scans every image I give it to train its machine-learning robots and extract location information about me because the service is excellent and the search is incredible. Likewise Gmail and Google Maps. 

If you'd like to continue to use Google search, but want to keep your privacy intact, there are quite a few steps you'll need to take. Sadly, using your browser's privacy mode is not enough. Private Browsing or Incognito Mode is really designed to hide your search and browser history from someone looking at your browser or phone after you, not to hide your history from Google, Facebook, or anyone else that makes money tracking you across the web. The problem is that your IP address (your unique location identifier on the internet) is still shown, so even though cookies are not collected, Google can guess the searches are coming from you. 

To go truly private, you'll need to use Google only in a browser that's not logged in to any Google services – including YouTube, Maps, Gmail. Next, use a plugin like Ghostery or Privacy Badger, which will disable Google's (and anyone else's) tracking from website to website. Finally, you may wish to do all browsing behind a VPN service that will cloak your IP address from external eyes. 

Snoop-free searches

If all of this sounds like too much work, there are alternatives. DuckDuckGo launched back in 2008 as the Google alternative for the privacy-conscious. The service promises to never track your searches, and more importantly, it doesn't follow you around the internet as Google does. DuckDuckGo was relatively unknown until Apple promoted it to a default search option in iOS 8, on par with Google, back in 2014. DuckDuckGo supports many of the shortcuts Google does and returns equally good results on more broad searches – topics like historical figures and places of interest, for example. 

Snoop fre searches

DuckDuckGo even has its own instant answers and display cards for results like flight numbers, the weather, word definitions, and movie trivia. Where it falls short is in the guesswork and personalization Google does so well; in knowing when you search for a chemist, you probably want your local chemist, when searching a flight number, you might want to see your upcoming flights, and when searching for a movie, the nearest session time to you. 

As an experiment, it's worth using DuckDuckGo exclusively for a week to see how much you rely on Google and everything it knows about you. You may find your searches improve once you step out of the feedback loop of Google, or you may realize how much of your privacy you're willing to trade for instant results.

Alternative search engines

  • Bing: Microsoft's answer to Google. The two search engines are on par in terms of features, but it's always worth supporting the underdog. And what a fascinating world it is where Microsoft is now the underdog. 
  • Wolfram Alpha: Prides itself on being an answers engine and was one of the first to support natural language queries like "how many days until Christmas", or "who wrote stairway to heaven?"
  • Mendeley: A search engine and app designed for students and academics that allows users to search on how many academic papers a result is featured in. The accompanying app allows researchers to easily collect sources for a final paper. 
  • Twitter search: Still the fastest way to find out what's happening with breaking news and events, although you will often need to wade through users jokes and 'hot takes' before you discover what's actually happening.

 

Categorized in Search Engine

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