BIG little Research Tips (#5-#6)

This is the next set of research tips in an ongoing series to help you with Internet searching. Let me know if you have any comments or tips of your own to share! Come back to this site for more tips in the coming days and weeks.

#5. Search For Images

Search engines also search images and you should consider images as more than just photographs. Anything that displays information visually is an image. I will often go to an image search when I am looking for data or comparisons because graphs, charts, or tables are often displayed as images. The data within these graphs, charts, or tables don’t always come through as text, so the engine’s crawler may not find it. Think of PowerPoint presentations you’ve created. Text on slides bores audiences. A good presentation will have pictures, cartoons, and graphics to illustrate a point. Much of that good information embedded in those slides never pop up in a general text search.

Search engines will have a link to the image search on their front page, or like DuckDuckGo, from the list of results once you do a search.

Use terms like “chart” or “table” or “data” to get closer to the format you need. Compare these images when you search for a table with data about population growth versus a chart about population growth.

Be sure to use the filters (images.bing.com) and tools (images.google.com) to focus your search to exactly what you need. You can limit the search to cartoons, faces, overall color, and even usage rights so you know you are not violating anyone’s copyright when you paste that perfect image into your presentation or blog post.

Zanran.com is a search engine that pulls graphs and charts from PDF documents. A great tool if what you really need is a visualization of data. If you are just looking for stock images that are high quality and freely available for use, try using Gratisography.com, or Pixabay.com.

What’s your favorite image search database? Let me know in the comments.

#6. Search By Image

Searching by image is also referred to as reverse image searching. Copy the image, or drag and drop one into the search box, and let the algorithms figure out what you are looking at or for. Take a spin on TinEye.com as an example of a reverse image search engine.

Another great use for this search by image tool is trying to find someone’s social media profiles. A lot of people will use the same photo across platforms, so if you have a photo of the person from one site, try searching with it to find other sites they may have used it on. If you happen to find the same photo on lots of profiles, you may not be dealing with an honest person or someone who is trying to hide their real identity. Catfish, anyone?

Google Lens is a great tool! It is a mobile app image recognition tool. I used it the other day in my back yard. I had a weed growing in my bushes and was curious about what it was. A quick snap with my phone using the Lens returned what I feared – it was poison ivy! Other uses include scanning a sign in foreign language and translate it to your preferred language. There are other suggested uses, too, at the product page.

Not finding what you need?
Contact me and I can help you find the information you need to make your clients happy.

See previous tips: 1-2, and 3-4.

BIG Little Research Tips

I’ve been reading Tom Peters’ book “The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence.” It inspired me to think about little big things to pursue excellence in online searching and research.

Today I am beginning an ongoing series of posts that will help with your online research and hopefully make it more relevant and useful. Of course, should you find yourself in the position where you aren’t finding the information you think you should be finding, or if you are finding too much irrelevant info and can’t figure out how to filter out the noise, call me! (Maybe that should be the #1 tip!)

I’m not sure exactly how many tips I’ll come up with, but right now I have 50 queued up for you. I’m going to post a few at a time, so come back often to check out what’s new. They are not in order of importance, since every search is different and has a different need. Feel free to leave a comment or email if you have anything to add.

#1. Relevance Is Your Friend

Most search engines default to relevance ranking when they display the list of results to your query. Generally, the relevance ranking is pretty good. I suspect most users stay with the top few results and get at least some sort of answer to what they were looking for. If they don’t, rather than looking down the list, most people will adjust the search to get a new set of results.

What does “relevance ranking” mean? When a search engine retrieves a list of results it is doing so based on the terms you entered in the search box and how well they match up with the terms on the page it found. Sometimes it can be word for word, or some times it can be based on word stems, synonyms, or another type of mathematical algorithm. In any case, the pages found are the pages that search engine has indexed. Don’t be lulled into thinking that one search engine covers the entirety of all the web pages out there.

#2. Relevance Is Not Your Friend

Sometimes, relevance ranking distorts the results and gives you results that don’t necessarily help with your research. When you are looking for news, for example, you may want the most recent items first, not the most times your terms show up in a story. 

Maybe you need the oldest result. Perhaps there is a government report about your topic but it was written twenty years ago. Today, people still may site that report or discuss it in a blog post, but that won’t help you if you need the original source.

Maybe you are looking for something close by or local to your area, and the results keep pointing you to information from another city or area of the world. You may need to change the results from relevance (because it is not relevant to you) to location based.

Look for the settings or tools in the menu bar above your search results to adjust the way the results are displayed or what is returned at the top of the list. Depending on what database or search engine you are using, the tools may differ, so be vigilant and look under the hood.

Those are the tips for today! Check back soon for the next couple of tips.