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The Bottom Line February 201113F O C U SGoogle offers much more than most knowBy GARRETT WASNYtrack of publications and topicsand LAWRENCE WONGspecif ied by the user — andWhile search engines likeGoogle Sidebar, which appears onGoogle have created athe left side of the screen during arevolution by puttingGoogle search. Sidebar allowsoceans of information at the fin-people to easily refine their searchgertips of people all over thein a number of ways so it’s betterworld, the sad truth is that mostfiltered and the optimal informa-people don’t know how to reallytion rises to the top of the list. use them to their full potential.Keep in mind that, whileFor most, using a search engineGoogle is good, it’s not the onlyis limited to typing in a word orsearch engine out there. Fortwo in the search box on the homeexample, Bing, Microsoft’s searchpage, hitting ‘enter’ and seeingengine, and Yahoo! often bring dif-what pops up. That approach usesferent results for the same searcha small fraction — just one perterms. And few people seem tocent — of Google’s full capabili-know that the second biggestties. It often misses what thesearch engine is actually YouTube.searcher is looking for or buries itIt’s not just for funny clips and ZZway down a list of responses gen-Top videos from the 1980s. Manyerated by a query that was not tai-businesses are posting everythinglored to get the best result.from tutorials and product infor-If a person types in charteredmation to visual annual reportsaccountant at Google.ca, withoutand public meetings on YouTube.quotation marks, over three mil-That makes it a very importantlion results appear. Type in “char-resource.tered accountant” with quotesProfessionals should also bearound it and that number goes toaware of vertical search enginesFor most, using a search engine is limited to typing in aabout two million. Just puttingthat focus on a specific industry,words in quotations narrows afunction or issue. For example, tooword or two in the search box on the home page, hittingsearch by only bringing backfew accountants seem to knowresponses where the two words areabout www.ifacnet.com, a search‘enter’ and seeing what pops up. That approach uses a smallused side by side, thereby elimi-engine website powered bynating responses linked to docu-Google. On the site, it explainsfraction — just one per cent — of Google’s full capabilities.ments that might have an irrele-that ifacnet.com is a “one-stopvant sentence like: “Afteraccess to high-quality resourcesGarret Wasny and Lawrence Wongconsulting an accountant fishingand information developed by thebuddy, he chartered a boat.”appears at least three times willunknowns; that is to say we knowFurther tailoring can take alertsInternational Federation ofTo really start honing a search,appear. there are some things we do notfrom looking at everything on theAccountants (IFAC) and otherit’s best to use the TPL method,Go to different national ver-know. But there are also unknownnet to focusing on news sites,leading accountancy organizationswhich stands for time, place, lingo.sions of Google — like Canada’sunknowns — the ones we don’tblogs or videos. Using the TPLfrom around the world. This searchTreat a Google query as if it were aGoogle.ca as opposed toknow we don’t know.”method creates ‘super alerts’ thatengine, powered by Google, pro-human reference librarian. IfGoogle.com — and searches giveIn fact, Rumsfeld’s statement,avoid filling a person’s inbox withvides access to a wide range of rel-someone were seeking a forensicmore prominence to local content.while a bit convoluted, makes per-irrelevant material. Those withevant materials to assist profes-accountant currently operating inPeople looking for a type offect sense, especially for busy pro-unique names may be able to getsional accountants in business,Toronto, would it really be best todocument in a particular formatfessionals. Which accountantaway with a simple search of theirsmall- and medium-sized practi-go to a librarian and say:can narrow their search by speci-wouldn’t want to keep constantname, however the John Smiths oftioners, auditors, accounting aca-“accountant”? Searching ‘forensicfying the type of file. A search oftrack of what is being said aboutthe world are going to want todemics, and others in their day-to-accountant Toronto 2011’ onf iletype:ppt “charteredexisting or potential clients, theirnarrow things a little with some-day operations.”Google.ca gets about 65,500Professionals, like accountants,results, while ‘accountant’ getswho aren’t using the Internet to itsmore than 30 million.Poor search techniques put the averagefullest potential risk falling behindAdding context and details to athe competition. After all, ifcurious person or eager student at aquery brings better results. Searchknowledge is your business, who“House” and Google will reportcan really know too much?disadvantage and are inexcusable forback on everything from dwellingsand parliaments to curling andGarrett Wasny, MA, CMC,business professionals.places of worship. Type “House”CITP, is known as the ‘Internet“TV” and the results will focusguy’ and ‘Google guru’ whoGarret Wasny and Lawrence Wongmore on the Hugh Laurie drama,ASNYadvises accountants and otheralbeit with a lot of home improve-W professional service providers onment shows thrown in for goodaccountant” is confined to Power-firm or, most importantly, them?how to improve their online searchmeasure.Point f iles on the net and f ile-Can anyone afford to wait untilskills, increase their web produc-This type of search refinementtype:xls “chartered accountant”they’re aware the informationtivity and transform how they useis merely the tip of the iceberg.limits the search to Excel spread-exists to search for it when theythe web in their business, careerLittle changes to a search bringsheet files.can actually arrange to get it sentand life. He conducts a seminar ondifferent results. Make a termPoor search techniques put theto them automatically in advance?Advanced Internet Research Tech-plural — chartered accountants —average curious person or eagerOne of best products out there isniques for Accountants for theand the search gets a differentstudent at a disadvantage and areGoogle Alerts, which seems sadlyInstitute of Chartered Accountantsresult. Using American versusinexcusable for business profes-under-utilized even though it’s bothof Ontario. His website isBritish spellings — center versussionals.free and very effective. Googlething like “John Smith” “charteredwww.garrettwasny.com and can becentre, for example — alsoFormer U.S. Secretary ofAlerts allows people to set up auto-accountant” “Toronto.”easily found by Google.delivers different results. Type aDefense Donald Rumsfeld wasmatic searches for as many and anyUsed properly, Google Alertsterm twice in the search box to getonce widely ridiculed for saying:terms they can come up with.are part of the GARS search tech-Lawrence Wong, CA, is asso-results where the phrase is used“There are known knowns; thereThose searches can be customizednique that encompasses alerts,ciate director, professional devel-twice. Type it three times and onlyare things we know we know. Weto bring results weekly, daily or asplus Google Reader — an easy toopment at the Institute of Char-links to items where the phrasealso know there are knownthe term appears in real time. use RSS aggregator that will keeptered Accountants of Ontario.