The Blue Dog Scientific Blog: Sourcery: The Dark Art of Google Search.

Sourcery: The Dark Art of Google Search.

Sourcing as Alchemy.
While the "Boolean" language of Google search appears, at first glance to be similar to the algorithmic syntax of computer code, internet sourcing via this technique is far from a formulaic or mathematical science.

It is more an like a magicians art, a witches brew of spells and incantations, of gleaned tricks and acquired arcane knowledge.

Each search presents its own unique challenge and the Sourcerer's job is to find the most pertinent results with as much information as efficiently as possible.

I believe that what many people miss is that a good Soucerer can cast their spells in such a way that they get their information without having to click thru to many search results at all. In other words, they use their crystal ball to see more than the mere mortal, without ever leaving their Wizard's Lair.

Let me give an example. There is a website called "duedil", which provides information about companies in the UK. This is a site which requires a paid account for full usage. Nevertheless, I have found that certain types of useful information can be gleaned for free from duedil via Google X-ray search.

Let's suppose we are looking into companies in the city of Sheffield. We could start off simply by casting the following runes into a google search: sheffield.

This tells google to search the entire duedil website for occurrences of the keyword sheffield. As well as company details, this also bring up extraneous search results such as generic reports about businesses in Sheffield. Our crystal ball has been clouded.

So after a little witchcraft with the website, we quickly work out that the individual company details themselves are listed under the page  Our next incantation is sheffield.

This tells google to search only within the page for occurrences of the keyword sheffield. Here's some examples of the type of results we get.

Example results of a Google X-ray Search of Duedil for Companies in Sheffield.
OK, so we have generated a big list of companies in Sheffield unpolluted by other information. But note that the snippet text of the search results give us no extra information at all! To find out anything more about each company, we would have to actually click thru to duedil for each and every entry of potential interest, take notes and bookmark the results of only the ones which fulfill our criteria.  This is what apprentice Sourcerers might do.

The important thing to understand about Google search however, is that their is often much more information hidden within the snippet. The Wizardly Art of the Internet Search is therefore to work out exactly what level of detail the crystal ball is actually capable of showing and then to make the pertinent parts magically appear in the search results.

Returning to the duedil example, a bit of internet alchemy revealed to me that the hidden information contained in the search results includes financial information about some of the companies listed. I then set about working out how to optimally bring up that information within the search results themselves.
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Tell Me, Who is the Richest of Them All. sheffield turnover k or m gbp

gives results like this:

Example of search results showing financial details.

I now have important financial details about the companies too. The Mirror tells True. This allows me, for example, to eliminate companies based on a criteria of turnover without having to click thru to duedil at all.

I hope this magic show helps recruiters and prospectors understand that the True Power of the X-Ray search.

All spells cast in this post are for illustration purposes only and are not representative of the inner secrets of the Sourcerer's Spellbook. Steps have been omitted and incantations simplified for a lay audience.

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