Excluding a site in a Google search

Want to get search results from Google that aren’t from a specific site? Put a minus sign to the left of “site,” as in this search query: “reliability of wikipedia -site:wikipedia.org”

The minus sign in "-site" is the trick to excluding a website from Google search results.
The minus sign in "-site" is the trick to excluding a website from Google search results.

This morning I found myself thinking about that perennial question of the reliability of Wikipedia. This time it is because my older daughter (she’s in junior high) is forbidden to use Wikipedia articles in papers for school, but she wasn’t given any other recommended suggestions from her teacher. So my observation is that she is now more likely to use online sources that are actually less reliable than Wikipedia.

Teacher: Your bias against crowd-sourced and curated knowledge has driven your students to find non-curated “knowledge.” Grade: F.

Better idea? Teach students to evaluate the credibility of online sources, and allow them to use Wikipedia articles if they are deemed sufficiently trustworthy. Mark down the grade if untrustworthy articles are referenced. This would teach a real research skill, and be more educational than just pointing to the Google search box.

But that’s a rant, and not what I learned.

I first did a Google search for “reliability of wikipedia,” and found a whole bunch of results. But they were mostly from Wikipedia. I looked at a few interesting Wikipedia articles on the topic, but wanted to see what websites other than Wikipedia had to say about this.

And there was my challenge. How do I do that same search but exclude results from wikipedia.org?

Well, I already knew that you can type site:domain.com into the search field to just search a specific website, so I tried site:-wikipedia.org. That didn’t return any results. So I tried another approach that did work, putting the minus sign to the left of “site,” and it worked like a charm.

reliability of wikipedia -site:wikipedia.org

There. I learned something new today.

Bing delivers surprising amount of traffic to rangelistings.com

One of my hobby sites is rangelistings.com, a site with the goal of providing a map of each state with the locations of shooting ranges on it. I keep an eye on the web traffic pretty regularly, and about 90% of the traffic it receives is from search engines.

Up till the last couple of weeks search engine generated traffic to the site has been 80 to 90 percent from Google’s search. Over the last month, overall traffic has increased from around 60 visits per day to around 90 per day. Where does it come from? Well, still search engines primarily, and traffic from Google has increased noticeably during this time.

However, to my surprise, Bing is also making a surprisingly strong showing. Click on the chart below to view the details.

(Click on the image to view a larger version.) Traffic to rangelistings.com from the search engine Bing is suddenly showing at almost 30%.
(Click on the image to view a larger version.) Chart of traffic sources for rangelistings.com from Oct 1 to Oct 16, 2009. The search engine Bing is suddenly showing at almost 30%.

The Google AdSense conundrum

I have a little side project over at rangelistings.com. The site contains a page for each state with a map of where shooting ranges in that state are.

This is the first time I’ve posted advertisements on a site I’ve created, and I’ve run into a compelling question on how to make the ads more effective.

The ads that show up are on-topic, generally. However, an effective ad speaks to the audience, not to a topic, right?

I intend the audience for the rangelistings.com site to be shooters who are looking for places to shoot. Perhaps they, as in my recent case, are moving and want to to find shooting facilities in their new area.

Here is a sampling of the first lines of ads that show up for one of the state pages currently:

  • Personal Security Online
  • Monitored Security Alarms
  • Personal Security Device
  • How to Defend Yourself
  • Self Defense Pepper Spray

Topically speaking, those are all geared towards self-defense in some fashion. For an audience of shooters, one of them even seems silly (would I rather use pepper spray or a .45 for self-defense?).

So, what ads would be better suited to result in people visiting the site actually clicking on them? Here are a few ideas that I think would work better:

  • Ammo: big selection, low price
  • Gunsmithing classes
  • IPSC videos
  • Gun parts and shooting supplies
  • 1500+ gun auctions right now

So, ammo, gun parts, and gun auctions have little to do with the actual words listed on the pages of the site, but from the context of the people visiting the site, they actually make sense.

The site just launched, and Google hasn’t even fully indexed it yet, so I’ll not be hasty. However, I’d like to see the ad revenue at least pay for domain registration and hosting fees, and ads that actually appeal to the audience would sure push that goal forward.

The question is, how?

(And I’m not thrilled with the idea of subjugating the content of the website in order to twist the ads that show up. That’s pretty backwards.)

Any good ideas out there?

Look! It’s Chassell.

Downtown Chassell, MI from Google Maps
Downtown Chassell, MI from Google Maps

Yes, that’s right folks, this is a map of downtown Chassell, where I grew up. Okay, I didn’t actually grow up in Chassell, my parents’ house is outside of Chassell, on Paradise Road. Anyway, for those who’ve wondered how big the town is (anyone?), here’s a street map of the place.

Check out Google Maps. It’s where I pulled this image from. The interface is pretty slick. You can drag the map around, and it is quite smooth. Zooming in and out is smoother as well. It’s still in beta and won’t work in some browsers, but should work in most recent browsers (except Safari).

Great Google, Batman!

Fast Company magazine has a nice article on Google and the people and innovation behind it. One of the things that struck me about it was the recurring reference to Google’s respect for the user.

Google understands that its two most important assets are the attention and trust of its users. If it takes too long to deliver results or an additional word of text on the home page is too distracting, Google risks losing people’s attention. If the search results are lousy, or if they are compromised by advertising, it risks losing people’s trust. Attention and trust are sacrosanct.

Great stuff. Read the article.