Smart Search on Windows 8.1 Gets Smarter

On April 30, Microsoft’s Bing Relevance Team announced on the Search Blog some of the updates they are making to Smart Search in Windows 8.1.

In essence, Smart Search is getting smarter. Today, Smart Search is called so because it searches everything and not just one domain like the computer’s file system or the web. Searching for something via the Search Charm enables search across files, emails, apps, web, etc.

Now, with the power of Bing, one can enter natural language queries as shown below (from the blog post), and get relevant suggestions for things like PC settings. This may seem like a small and obvious update but it is actually quite nifty that customers don’t need to know which exact setting to look for, to change screen brightness, for example. Settings like the Control Panel have always been confusing and to most customers, intimidating. Making it easy to “get things done” as opposed to finding the right place to change settings, will help in reducing the confusion.

Smart Search Printer
Smart Search Printer
Smart Search Brightness
Smart Search Brightness
Smart Search Store
Smart Search Store
Smart Search Uninstall
Smart Search Uninstall

As the blog post goes on to say, the beauty of these updates is that because it is powered by Bing, all the benefits gained by Bing across all the end points can be funneled back as features into all other end points. Hence, Bing has stopped being a “search engine” a long time ago and for Microsoft, it is a machine learning platform.

This update will be rolling out this week, so it does not look like it needs an OS or app update. Happy searching!

Bing Bar Gets An Update; Adds Facebook Chat, Better Entertainment and News

After the neat refresh of Bing Bar 7.0 with useful app buttons, the Bing team has released Bing Bar 7.1 with a slew of new features that provides richer access to your social network, more entertainment options, and updates to the popular Bing Bar apps.

Bing Bar

Apart from several improvement under the hood regarding notifications, configurability, and performance, following are the benefits that the latest update offers you:

  • Facebook Chat: Bing Bar now allows you to chat with your Facebook friends without having Facebook opened in your browser.
  • Slacker Radio: The latest update brings Slacker Radio to the bar. It allows you to listen to music, sports, news, comedy and more without interrupting your web browsing.
  • Updated News App: The existing Bing Bar news app has been updated to be more visual now and includes more sources. While you can focus on the topics that interest you, the app notifies you in case of a breaking news within the Bing Bar.
  • Search Suggestions: The Bing Bar provides suggested search terms as you browse. The Bing team has been working on expanding the sites and the methods to suggest searches making it more effective and easier for you.

Download and install manually, or if you’re already a user of Bing Bar 7.0, you’ll get the upgrade automatically delivered to you over the next few months. While the Bing Bar is available in different languages and for different geographies, some of the features of the latest version are not yet available in all markets. The Bing Bar is available for Internet Explorer 7 or later on Windows XP with Service Pack 3, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

Bing for Mobile Browse ‘Likes’ Facebook

Bing has introduced a new set of features that enhances Bing for Mobile Browse  experience for the mobile browsers at m.bing.com with the help of Facebook integration and some new additions. Earlier this year, Bing rolled out Liked Results’ to the desktop site which allowed you to instantly see which stories, content, and sites your Facebook friends have liked’. bing-for-mobile

 

A thumbs up from your friends definitely makes a particular news story, article, or blog post more relevant to you. The latest update has brought the same feature to the mobile browser. Bing shows faces of up to three of your friends that like a search result, offering a visual and virtual seal of approval from your trusted social network. To enable this feature, you need to authenticate and connect your Facebook account to Bing on the Settings page.

The latest update also brings together millions of videos from across the web: from Hulu, MSN, YouTube, and a slew of other sources. For sports fans, there are special tabs for MLB, NBA, and NHL. To make movie watching decisions easier, the update allows you to quickly review user and critic ratings while you browse the list of currently playing movies, watch trailers, and find show times. You can even ask your Facebook friends what they thought of a movie, or if they want to join you, all from within Bing.

Bing Webmaster Tools Integrate Yahoo Data

The Bing Webmaster team has announced the integration of Yahoo traffic data into Bing Webmaster Tools reports. Bing Webmaster Tools will now be showing integrated data from Yahoo within certain areas and reports. At this time the data will be combined, not selectable. The transition happens in August, although September will be the first full month of combined data.
image

Bing Webmaster Tools help site owners to drive more visitors to their site using Bing data on search queries, crawling, and search traffic.   They can see their site as Bing does, optimize for search, share site information with Bing, and view a comprehensive list of sites that are linking to their site.

In Bing Webmaster Tools, the Traffic summary report and Page Traffic reports will be impacted, although no actual rankings will be affected by the combining of data within Bing webmaster Tools. On these pages, both Bing and Yahoo! logos will appear above the graphs.

  1. Impressions will go up based on combined data numbers across both search engines
  2. Clicks will go up based on combined data numbers
  3. Click Through Rates (CTR) as appropriate for above (change only due to the mathematics involved in the first two items)

Better Search for WordPress Admin Backend Posts

I have always been in awe of WordPress and have come to love it since I started using it few years back. However, one of the biggest problems I have had with WordPress is their search; both in the frontend as well as in the backend.

wordpress_logo

While you can always improve your frontend search and add relevancy to it by either using Google Custom Search or a plugin like Better Search, there are not many options for the backend, or at-least my searches led me to few or none.

My dislike for the WordPress backend search grew more when I wanted to search for some articles which had a particular title but could never see them in the results for my queries. However, I did find a really good alternative after spending a decent amount of time searching for it on Google.

WordPress Admin Advanced Search

The extension called Search Regex is quite a life saver and is definitely better than the default WordPress backend search for posts. The plugin allows you to search only titles, within posts and comments, post meta values, post excerpts, post URLs and more.

One of the first things I noticed with the plugin was that it works really well and does it’s job. However, as always humans are usually never satisfied with what they get and so was I. I would have loved the plugin to integrate and replace the default backend search in WordPress and would like to have it on the WordPress Edit posts page itself. The reason for this is that, the way the plugin currently works, you can only edit a single post at a time.

On the other hand, WordPress backend search allows users to edit multiple posts at once. Other than this, the plugin also allows you to Search and Replace text within your posts. This can come in very handy if you want to update a link or text in a post. Best of all, the plugin supports regex (Regular Expression). However, I would avoid using that because it could really create problems if something goes wrong or you use a bad regex, in-fact the plugin itself advices you about it.

Rest assured, Search Regex is an excellent plugin to address the annoyance called "WordPress Search". Go ahead and download it from here, you won’t be disappointed at all.

Move over, Yahoo Yodel. In Europe, it’s Time to Bing.

As part of the Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance, from August 3, Yahoo! search results in Europe will be powered by Bing. Yahoo! will be migrating organic search results for its European properties to the Bing search index.

Yahoo - Microsoft Search Alliance

Organic (also referred to as algorithmic) search results are the non-paid listings found on the main body of the Yahoo! search page. This transition will happen for Yahoo UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. At this time, Yahoo! is not transitioning paid search results to Microsoft Advertising adCenter and companies can continue using their Yahoo! Search Marketing accounts.

In August 2010, a similar transition happened for Yahoo.com. After the transition, there were no changes in the branding or search experience, except a Powered by BingTM‘ text in the footer of the search page.

If you are a webmaster and organic search results bring traffic to your site, you are advised to compare your organic search rankings on Yahoo! Search and Bing for the keywords that drive your business and check for any potential impact to your website traffic. You might also want to check if you need to modify your paid search campaigns. Also, if you are not using the Bing webmaster tools, it is a good idea to do that now to ensure your site is prominently listed in both Yahoo! and Bing organic search results.

Google Gets Dedicated Real-time Search Page

Google forayed into real-time search by announcing a deal with last year. However, real-time search results in Google went much ahead than just displaying results from Twitter and included web results too.

Google Logo

I remember reading a post by Danny Sullivan on Search Engine Land about his request to Google to add a dedicated real-time search results page and it looks like Google finally heeded his advice and announced the introduction of a dedicated real-time search page at http://www.google.com/realtime.

The difference between the regular search page and real-time page is that you will see relevant results which are freshly indexed on Google about the keywords you are searching for.

The new real-time search page includes several new enhancements including:

  • Geographically refining results based on your location
  • Conversations view to follow discussions in real-time, which will include re-tweets and replies. This will allow you to view a real-time discussion easily
  • An update to Google Alerts to stay informed about a topic of your choosing

The new real-time dedicated page can be found at http://www.google.com/realtime, however, you might see a 404 error since Google is slowly rolling out this new feature to users. What do you think of the new real-time search page? Do let us know. To get started watch a video of how to use Real-time search in Google in the embedded video below.

Update: The above URL is still giving a 404 error, but you can visit this URL http://www.google.com/realtime?esrch=RealtimeLaunch::Experiment to view the results, here is a screenshot of real-time search results in action.

Google Real-time Search Results

Looks pretty neat, but can be pretty overwhelming for a new user. What do you think?

How to Add a Right Click Search to Chrome Browser

Would you like to be able to highlight a word or a phrase on a web page and find out more about it? You can make this possible by adding search entries to the right click (context) menu.

Recently, I’ve posted articles telling you how to Add a Right Click Search Menu to Firefox and Internet Explorer. You might think that I have a real searchaddiction. It’s not an addiction, it’s a real need that’s based on the desire to save time. I spend large chunks of time searching the net for the things I want to learn and write about.

Now I’ll show you how to add a context search menu to Google’s Chrome web browser. chrome

1. You must be running version 4 of Chrome or higher.

2. Go to the ChromeExtensions site and install Context Search.

chrome-context-search-site

3. To add your own custom search sites (providers), open the Extensions manager by using the Wrench pull-down menu.

chrome-extensions-wrench

4. Click on the Options button for Context Search.

chrome-extensions-options-button

5. In the preferences, you can add/remove and edit existing search providers. To add a new provider, click the Add newlink.

chrome-context-search-add-new

6. Here you can see how I’ve added my favorite search provider. Don’t forget to use the Savelink when you have everything entered. (read why I like Scroogle Search)

chrome-context-search-add-scroogle

Tip: How do I get URLs like the ones shown above? I go to a website (such as Twitter) and perform a search there, using an easy to identify keyword (such as TESTSEARCH). Then I find the keyword and replace it with %s.

URL displayed in address bar after searching Twitter for TESTSEARCH
http://twitter.com/#search?q=TESTSEARCH

URL after replacing TESTSEARCH with %s
http://twitter.com/#search?q=%s

7. When you run across a word or phrase on a page, highlight it and you’ll see a little triangle beside the highlighted text. Click on it and you’ll see your search providers listed.

chrome-context-search-shown2

8. I’ve noticed that the little triangle doesn’t appear on some web pages. When that happens, right click on the highlighted text and you’ll see your customized search providers listed.

chrome-context-search-shown

That’s all there is to it. Now you’re ready to beat Chuck Norris at searching. Oh, I forgot – Chuck Norris doesn’t search, the results come to him.   (bad joke)

How to Add a Right Click Search Menu to Internet Explorer

ie8-icon There is definitely something missing in Internet Explorer 7. When I’m using Firefox, Opera, and Chrome, I have gotten used to highlighting a word or phrase, then right clicking and choosing a search engine to look it up. I noticed that it was missing in IE7 the other day, and I immediately set forth on a quest to fix this fault.

It didn’t take long to find the answer. Once again, an old acquaintance, Ramesh Srinivasan, had a solution handy at his WinHelpOnline website. The right-click-search (or context menu search) is fairly easy to add. Just follow my instructions below. (This should work in IE6 and IE7, but may not work IE8.)

  1. Download Google.zip from WinHelpOnline.
  2. Right click on the zip file and Extract Allthe files to a folder. (the Windows Desktop is a good spot)
  3. Open the folder and copy google.htm to the C:\Windows\Web folder.
  4. Double click on the google.reg file and click Yesto add this information into the registry.
  5. The next time you open up Internet Explorer, you’ll now be able to right click on a highlighted word and search for it.
  6. An undo.regis included in the zip file, and you can run it if you want to remove the google search from your menu.

ie-context-search

Wait! I’m not done with you yet. I can tell you how to add other search engines to the right click menu. I modified Ramesh’s code and created more search context actions. Thanks to Ramesh for permission to re-use his code.

Here are searches for:

To install these, just use the same instructions (2 through 6) above. Substitute the name of the site you are installing for google.

Note: IE8 already has a similar feature called accelerators. At this time, I don’t know how to write those.

Do you need any other websites added to this list? Let me know, when I have time I’ll add more.

How to Create Your Own Site Searches in Internet Explorer

internet-explorer-iconDo you have favorite websites that you need to search? You might already know that you can search specific websites by using the pull down menu on the built-in search box in Internet Explorer. You can see a list of sites, such as Bing, Google or Yahoo; these are called Search Providers.

what-are-search-providers

You can add Search Providers in Internet Explorer very easily, but what if the site you want isn’t included in Microsoft’s list of providers? Here are a few of the providers listed by Microsoft:

Bing SearchNew York Times Instant SearchWikipedia Visual SearchAmazon Search SuggestionseBay.com Visual SearchGoogle Search SuggestionsYahoo! Search SuggestionsESPN SearchRealtime Web Search (by OneRiot)Sports Buzz from Buzztap

Creating your own Search Providers is an easy trick to learn. It might save you several minutes every day if you have to perform lots of web searches. I’m only going to show instructions for Internet Explorer 7 and 8. If you have Internet Explorer 6, you should upgrade to a newer version. IE6 is getting too old, slow and insecure (like me). Unlike me, however, IE6 is not getting any wiser.

Let’s start with a good example. let’s say that you are in love with the Techie Buzz site and you need to search it every day. Follow the steps below to add your own “Techie Buzz Search” to Internet Explorer.

1. Open Internet Explorer and navigate to Techie-Buzz.