LGSearch update

LGSearch is something of an anomaly in my ‘portfolio’ of stuff I’ve made in that is actually works and is useful. I built it a couple of years ago while working as Risk Management Officer at a County Council. Essentially, I found it a pain in the neck to find relevant material online using traditional search engines, so I put my own together.

It’s based on Google’s Customised Search service, which requires you to provide a list of sites you want the search to be limited to. What I did originally was find an online list of all local authority sites and plug that in. This way, searching for a term generated results only from local government.

Later I developed things a bit further, adding in a variety of other public sector sites, such as those in central government, police, fire and health authorities and some of the organisations in and around government. Google helps here too: by categorising sites under the headings mentioned, users can then drill down into results by clicking a link to produce results from just, say, central government. Nice one.

The site has been pretty popular, with usage increasing as word gets around. Some councils have even embedded it in their own sites. There is a Google Group set up to manage requests for change, etc, which if you visit it, will show how terrible I am at keeping on top of it. Now I have some more time for this stuff, that will improve. There is also the list of sites searched, which could well be out of date. If you need changes made, email the list or just me.

Anyway, after all that introduction, I have today made a significant change to the site, long overdue, which has included various bits of social media to the search, including a load of blogs. These have all been added under the category of ‘social media’ so if you just want to search these sites, you can. The blogs added are (just pasting URLs as I am lazy):

  • http://whitehallwebby.wordpress.com/
  • http://steve-dale.net/
  • http://tom-watson.co.uk/
  • http://lostconsciousness.wordpress.com/
  • http://davepress.net/
  • http://digital-pioneer.blogspot.com/
  • http://mulqueeny.wordpress.com/
  • http://paulcanning.blogspot.com/
  • http://puffbox.com/
  • http://andrewkbrown.wordpress.com/
  • http://carlhaggerty.wordpress.com/
  • http://ideapolicy.wordpress.com/
  • http://blogblogblog.ws/
  • https://blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/
  • http://extendedreach.wordpress.com/
  • http://lordsoftheblog.wordpress.com/
  • http://www.owen.org/blog/
  • http://blog.helpfultechnology.com/
  • http://strategytalk.typepad.com/public_strategy/
  • http://www.futuregovconsultancy.com/
  • http://neilojwilliams.net/missioncreep/
  • http://gallomanor.com/
  • http://civicsurf.org.uk/

Any heinous ommissions, let me know.

Find a Tweet

I wondered what would happen if I included every public Twitter profile in a customised Google search. The result was a pretty cool way of finding what people are saying on Twitter on a certain topic.

You can have a go yourself at Find a Tweet.

One drawback is that it relies on the Google cache, so isn’t up to the minute accurate. But if you are looking for something you know someone said a little while back, you should be able to track it down.

Use Google CSE on your blog

Google’s customised search engine service is really cool, useful and dead easy to use. It’s what I used to create LGSearch, which is one of the most successful bits of online work I have done. What Google CSE does is allow you to create a ‘whitelist’ of sites you want to limit your search to, so it’s a way of guaranteeing relevance in search results.

Another use of it is to replace your default blog search functionality. For example, it’s better than the WordPress standard search because it searches pages as well as posts; and it allows you to run contextual ads next to the results – taking people away from your blog but providing you with a little income, which is always nice.

The functionality is improved even more by using the new AJAX results overlay, which means there is no need to create a results page. Try it out on DavePress using the search box on the top right.

To get this on your WordPress blog, all you need to do is head over to Google CSE, create your search engine, remembering to only add your blog’s URL to the whitelist, and then copy the search box code into a text widget. Easy!