One awesome online resource is custom search engines. You can actually group your own list of websites and create a search engine that will search just those sites. While this may not sound helpful at first, it truly is when you consider it's potential. It allows you to specify websites you want to search instead of searching the billions of pages in the Web. This can be very helpful if you have a specific group of websites that you know work well and will contain the information you need. In this blog, I will discuss the custom search engines I created for my term project on Apple.
Google Custom Search
I created a Google Custom Search for Apple. Creating a custom search engine is very easy (takes a few simple steps) and takes all of 10 minutes. The most important thing (and maybe difficult) is picking the right websites to add. I was very careful in this process. Listed below are a few of my 18 feeds, and an explanation for why I chose them. The first 4 websites are from my Bloglines account and the final 2 are not.
- http://www.macnn.com: Provides every bit of news on Apple (even the smallest things), and therefore has a very impressive archive to search.
- http://www.apple.com: Has very detailed descriptions of Apple's products, and has a lot of other useful information such as press releases.
- http://www.seekingalpha.com: This provides great financial analysis of Apple (along with several other sites, such as MarketWatch).
- http://www.alleyinsider.com/: This site contains a ridiculous amount of technology news, including Apple. Has an excellent archive of news.
- http://news.google.com/news/section?ned=us&topic=t: This is the web address for Google News Technology. It provides tons of information about the technology sector (similar to AlleyInsider). However, it provides way too many sources to use in my blogroll.
- http://www.newyorktimes.com: Offers interesting articles about Apple and has a history archive dating back to the start of Apple (try an advanced search for news on Apple from the early 1980's, it's very cool)!
Listed below is my Apple Custom Search Engine. Try searching for anything involving Apple: one of it's products, financial news (stock price, revenue, growth), who their Senior Vice President of Industrial Design is, or anything!
How well does it work?
To test how effective my Apple Custom Search Engine is, I decided to try some searches:
First, I tried a search to find out Apple's iPhone sales from the last quarter. This is something I would realistically search for. Searching for "iPhone sales" in my Google Custom Search worked perfectly, bringing back 433 results. A normal Google search for this query brings back 31,100,000 results (half of which are useless).
I decided to try another search, this time using more difficult criteria. The goal of this search was to find the colors of the new iPod Nano. I searched for "iPod nano colors". Again, perfection! This search brought back 180 results, more than enough to find my answer. A Google Search brought back 7,310,000 results (many of the results in the top 30 were not helpful).
As it stands right now, my custom search engine works very well! And as I come across more sites, I can add them to my search engine!
I also created my Apple search engine in Topicle, which is almost identical to my Google Custom Search above. Topicle offers a nicer homepage for the search. As well, it is easier to customize and add new websites. However, it doesn't sync with your Google account (which Google Custom Search does), which, for me, gives Google Custom Search the edge.
Repeating my search for "iPhone sales" found me 659 results. Given that the two search engines are practically identical (Topicle uses Google Custom Search), I do not understand why this number is so much different than the 433 results from before. Regardless, the Topicle results were applicable as well!
Custom search engines are amazing! The best part is that as I work more and more on my term project, I can continue to add useful websites (just like my blogroll). I am absolutely certain that you personally can use this resource to your advantage. For instance, after my work on my Apple Custom Search, I created another for Health and Fitness. I am a frequent reader of Men's Health and I exercise 3-4 days a week, so I like to do a lot of research to stay healthy. I like to change all of my exercise routines every month, so I normally do a lot of web searching. I created this to use whenever I have questions regarding anything in this area. Instead of searching Google and receiving millions of answers (which requires time to filter through), I can search the sites that I love and that I know have the answers I want. Try it out!