Monday, October 26, 2009

What's In The Boxes?

Every day, we see one or two queries from confused bloggers, about these boxes.
I type the URL in my browser, and get
No blog found.
or
Why doesn't it show more than what's in my blog?
or
I know the URL. I can see it on my dashboard even. But the search says that it's not there.
All of these observations are evidence of people who don't know what all the boxes in the browser are intended to provide.

When you view your blog, there are 2 to 4 boxes of which you need to be aware. Depending upon what accessories are provided in any given blog, there may be more. Depending upon what browser you have, there may be less. And depending upon what browser you have, the label, position, and size of any of these boxes isn't predictable. But, the boxes will be there.
  • Browser Address Box. This is the most important box visible. This is where you are supposed to paste or type the URL of your blog, another blog, or any website, to browse to the blog or website.
  • Browser Search Box. This is a browser accessory, provided by some browsers, so you don't have to load the web page of the major search engines. Here, as on the search boxes on the various web pages, you paste or type the search that you want to do.
  • Navbar Blog Search Box. If you haven't disabled the navbar, here you can paste or type keywords which will be used to search your blog, directly - without requiring that your blog be indexed by the search engines.
  • Blog Search Gadget. This will be any search gadget added to a blog by the owner. This could be a version of the navbar blog search, or a version of the browser search box, but against different search engines.


Except for the navbar blog search box, there is no way to predict if, what, or where any of these boxes will look like or appear. The labeling, positioning, even whether a box is included, are all a matter of personal preference. Some personal preference is of the blog owner, other is of the blog reader / owner of the computer used for browsing.

In some browsers, the address box and search box are combined, with browser code interpreting (more or less reliably) whether a URL or search terms have been entered. This causes confusion when the person used to any one browser uses a different browser - or maybe the same brand browser, on another computer.

I could add a picture here, of my browser, on my computer. But, that would simply be a picture of my browser, and would only confuse you. I arrange my browser to suit my preferences and taste - and just as surely as I know that everything which I write in my blog won't interest everyone, I know that how I arrange my browser won't interest everyone, either.

The navbar is intended as the single most predictable object on the screen, when viewing Blogger blogs. Unfortunately, some blogs are setup with the navbar hidden, which prevents use of the navbar blog search. To compensate for this, some blog owners will add a blog search gadget. Unfortunately, Search gadgets for Blogger blogs come in a variety of designs. A browser search gadget may be the equivalent of the browser search window, of the navbar blog search window, or even may be customised so you can't tell what it does.

Besides understanding the blog search box (whether navbar or blog based), we need to note a major difference between a search using a search engine, and a search directly against the blog.
  • Both a browser search box and a blog based custom search box will involve a search engine, which uses cached copies of every indexed blog and web site. The cached copies will be subject to search engine latency, causing discrepancies similar to SERPs referencing main page view.
  • Blog direct searches, such as the navbar search box, and some custom search boxes, which will search the blog now, based upon what's in the blog, now.

If your blog was just published to a custom domain, the blog will need to be re indexed under the new URL. You can accelerate the re indexing process, if you make some effort.

Considering all of these details, it's not surprising that there would be confusion, when people surf strange blogs and / or use strange browsers, maybe on strange computers. Possibly, by knowing the details, we can diagnose the questions from the confused bloggers.

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4 comments:

Aviatrix said...

Well-addressed.

I have observed a startling number of people do not know the difference between the address bar and the search window. They always type a URL into the search window. Now that browsers are starting to do clever things with the history and search engines for people who type search terms into the address bar, perhaps it is not long before there is no separate search and address.

You just say "Computer, give me all information on X," and it automatically *doesn't* give you all information on X, only the top ranked information on X in contexts consistent with your search history and current situation.

Chuck said...

perhaps it is not long before there is no separate search and address

When that happens, I predict that it will not happen at once. Some people will choose to use that option, others will continue to separate address and search functions. Some browsers / search engines / websites may, or may not, make that distinction. This will cause continued and ongoing confusion, to anybody who does not know the differences, when moving from any one environment to another.

In other words, things will get worse, not better.

kitchengarden101.com said...

Good Post. You can specify "Search this site" to make clear that the search is only for this web site.

dvm said...

Thanks. That was useful.