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Productivity Hack - Searching Within a Website Quickly via a Dynamic Google Bookmark

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Lucas Bishop
I'm killing time while I wait for life to shower me with meaning and happiness. - Calvin
In this article I will provide some simple productivity hacks that will help you use Google to specifically show results from any web site (Experts-Exchange.com in my example), with minimal effort in Chrome and Firefox.

I've seen a common theme among Experts Exchange members, where a preferred method for locating solutions on the site is to use Google, rather than the native search.  However, members often go about this by typing a keyword phrase into Google and hope to find an Experts Exchange solution somewhere in the results. This generally provides a poor experience as the search result page doesn't always provide Experts Exchange solutions. This behavior is what influenced the following tutorial.

I'll show you how to:
  1. Force Google to show only Experts Exchange solutions on command, via the "Site Search" parameter.
    • This is most useful in doing one-off searches of random web sites
  2. Create a browser shortcut, so you can simply type "EE" and a "keyword phrase" into your address bar, to search the Experts Exchange web site using Google.
    • This is is a huge time saver if you regularly search a specific web site that is very content heavy (ex. Experts Exchange, Local Craigslist, forums, etc.)
In the end, you'll be able to quickly query Google for Experts Exchange answers. For example, to search for mod_rewrite on Experts Exchange, you'd simply type "ee mod_rewrite" into your browser:

... which will yield only results from Experts-Exchange.com:

mod-rewrite-site-experts-exchange.com---Before explaining how to set this up, I'll start by giving some background on how a 'site search' works. Then I'll show you how to integrate this type of search with a browser shortcut in Firefox and Chrome.

If you'd rather not get into the technical aspects, go ahead and skip ahead to the Firefox or Chrome sections, where I outline a simple 3-4 step process for setting this shortcut up.

The Basics - Google Site Search

First you may be interested in understanding the background to how the Google Site Search works.

To search a specific site using Google, the "site:" operator is your friend. The site operator is an "advanced search" feature and can be accessed towards the bottom of the advanced search page:

site-operator.pngThis allows you to focus your search to a specific web site. For example, if I wanted to search experts-exchange.com for "fun IT activites" I'd simply fill out the form as such:

fun-it-activities.pngIf you review the resulting URL, it is structured as:

https://www.google.com/#q=fun it activities+site:experts-exchange.com

Open in new window

On the search result page, you'll notice the form fields are combined into a single search query:

site-operator-example.pngAlso note, the search result page shows only results from Experts Exchange, for "fun IT activities." This provides a very effective way to search the Experts Exchange web site, using Google.

To recap, there are a few manual ways to search Experts Exchange using Google.
  1. You can go to the Advanced Search page and fill out the form (inconvenient)
  2. You can type directly into the google search bar "keyword site:experts-exchange.com" (cumbersome).
  3. You can type in the url yourself http://google.com/#q=keyword+site:experts-exchange.com (even more cumbersom).

Next, we'll look at simplifying this process. There is no need to remember the "site:" operator, url format or spend time hunting down the advanced search page. All you'll need to remember when it's time to search Experts Exchange, is "EE".

FireFox - Bookmark with dynamic query insertion

First, let's look at setting up Firefox, so you can search experts exchange just by typing a keyword into the address bar. This is done with a simple bookmark (video instructions here):
  1. Press 'Ctrl + Shft + B' (Windows) or 'Apple Key + B' (Mac) in Firefox to launch the Bookmark Menu
  2. In the Bookmark Library, right click on "Bookmarks Menu"
  3. Select "New Bookmark"
  4. Fill out the new bookmark with the following fields:
    • Name: Search Experts Exchange With Google
      • You can name this anything you want. I'll call it "Search Experts Exchange With Google" for this exercise
    • Location: https://www.google.com/#q=%s+site:experts-exchange.com
      • Site search URL with "%s" acting as a dynamic replaceable smart keyword
    • Keyword: ee
      • This is what you'll type into your browser bar when you want to activate this site search tool. I use EE because it's short and easy to remember.
  5. Click "Add"
Now this bookmark will be available to you by simply typing "ee" and then any search phrase you want into your browser bar.

For example "ee wordpress migration":

wp-migration.pngor "ee how to vlookup in excel blindfolded":

vlookup.pngNotice that as you type a keyword phrase, the %s in the bookmark is dynamically replaced.

Go ahead and press enter after typing out your search and you'll see only results from Experts Exchange.

Chrome - Custom Search Engine

The process for Chrome is similar, except we'll be adding a custom search engine instead of a Bookmark (video instructions here):

  1. In chrome, via your address bar go to chrome://settings/searchEngines
  2. Scroll to the bottom and "Add a new search engine" with the following values:
  3. Press Enter and exit out of your settings area.
To use this custom search engine, all you'll have to do is type "ee" into the browser bar along with a search phrase.

As soon as you type ee and press the spacebar, you'll see a blue box appear that signifies the custom search engine is being used. Here is an example of typing "ee wordpress migration" into the chrome address bar:

chrome-wordpress-migration.pngPress enter after typing out your search query and you'll only receive results from Experts Exchange.

I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions on how to set this up, or you have a better way of integrating the Google Site Search, post a comment and let me know.

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