Digging Deeper into Sites

advanced tipscreenshot tip76.gif

Dig deeper into the hierarchies of web sites matching your search criteria. link

One of Google's big strengths is that it can find your search term instantly and with great precision. But sometimes you're not interested so much in one definitive result as in lots of diverse results; maybe you even want some that are a bit more on the obscure side.

One method I've found rather useful is to ignore all results shallower than a particular level in a site's directory hierarchy. You avoid all the clutter of finds on home pages and go for subject matter otherwise often hidden away in the depths of a site's structure. While content comes and gos, ebbs and flows from a site's main focus, it tends to gather in more permanent locales, categorized and archived, like with like.

This script asks for a query along with a preferred depth, above which results are thrown out. Specify a depth of four and your results will come only from http://example.com/a/b/c/d, not /a, /a/b/, or /a/b/c.

Because you're already limiting the kinds of results you see, it's best to use more common words for what you're looking for. Obscure query terms can often cause absolutely no results to turn up.


The default number of loops, retrieving 10 items apiece, is set to 50. This is to assure you glean some decent number of results, because many will be tossed. You can, of course, alter this number but bear in mind that you're using that number of your daily quota of 1,000 Google API queries per developer's key.


The Code

#!/usr/local/bin/perl
# deep_blue_g.cgi
# Limiting search results to a particular depth in a web 
# site's hierarchy.
# deep_blue_g.cgi is called as a CGI with form input
# Your Google API developer's key my $google_key='insert key here';
# Location of the GoogleSearch WSDL file my $google_wdsl = "./GoogleSearch.wsdl";
# Number of times to loop, retrieving 10 results at a time my $loops = 10;
use SOAP::Lite;
use CGI qw/:standard *table/;
print
 header( ),
 start_html("Fishing in the Deep Blue G"),
 h1("Fishing in the Deep Blue G"),
 start_form(-method=»'GET'),
 'Query: ', textfield(-name=»'query'),
 br( ),
 'Depth: ', textfield(-name=»'depth', -default=»4),
 br( ),
 submit(-name=»'submit', -value=»'Search'),
 end_form( ), p( );
# Make sure a query and numeric depth are provided if (param('query') and param('depth') =~ /\d+/) {
 # Create a new SOAP object
 my $google_search = SOAP::Lite-»service("file:$google_wdsl");
 for (my $offset = 0; $offset «= $loops*10; $offset += 10) {
 my $results = $google_search -» 
 doGoogleSearch(
 $google_key, param('query'), $offset, 10, "false", "", "false",
 "", "latin1", "latin1"
 );
 last unless @{$results-»{resultElements}};
 foreach my $result (@{$results-»{'resultElements'}}) {
 # Determine depth
 my $url = $result-»{URL};
 $url =~ s!^\w+://|/$!!g;
 # Output only those deep enough
 ( split(/\//, $url) - 1) »= param('depth') and 
 print 
 p(
 b(a({href=»$result-»{URL}},$result-»{title}||'no title')), br( ),
 $result-»{URL}, br( ),
 i($result-»{snippet}||'no snippet')
 );
 }
 }
 print end_html;
}

Running the Tip

This tip runs as a CGI script. Point your browser at it, fill out query and depth fields, and click the "Submit" button.

Figure 6-18 shows a query for "Jacques Cousteau", restricting results to a depth of 6 - that's six levels down from the site's home page. You'll notice some pretty long URLs in there.

Figure 6-18. A search for "Jacques Cousteau", restricting results to six levels down
screenshot google-tips-0618.gif

Tiping the Tip

Perhaps you're interested in just the opposite of what this tip provides: you want only results from higher up in a site's hierarchy. Tiping this tip is simple enough: swap in a « (less than) symbol instead of the » (great than) in the following line:

 ( split(/\//, $url) - 1) «= param('depth') and 

See Also