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Bookmarking and Tracking Search Results Back to tutorial index  

Probably all of us rely on search engines to help us look for stuff on the web. Many times, we also like to bookmark the page containing the search results because we need to repeat the search from time to time to see if anything new turns up. Most of the major search engines like Google and Altavista allow you to do that, so you don't have to specify the search terms everytime. But many others don't allow you to bookmark the search results.

One such site that I've come across is the TotalTelecom website, which provides news about the global telecommunications industry. Try entering a search for the company called 'alcatel' and then bookmark the search results. When you visit the bookmark again, there are no search results!

The reason you can't bookmark TotalTelecom's search results but you can bookmark Google's search results is due to a difference in the way that your search query is submitted to the search engine. This boils down to a difference in the format of the HTTP request that is sent from your browser to the server. Basically, Google uses a 'GET' request while TotalTelecom uses a 'POST' request. If you look closely at the URL of a search results page from Google, you will notice that the search keyword occurs somewhere inside the URL string. But in TotalTelecom's case, the keyword does not occur in the URL. Because of this, bookmarks only work with 'GET' requests. But all is not lost! I will show you how TrackEngine can help you to bookmark sites like TotalTelecom, and subsequently to track it.

Prerequisite: Enable your web browser with the "Track me!" button.
If you're not a TrackEngine user yet, then sign up for a free account by clicking here. The registration process is simple and you'll receive your username and password by email shortly after you've signed up. There are a few places where you can enable your web browser with the "Track me!" button.

  • At the QuickStart page, which briefly outlines the workings of TrackEngine for new users upon their first sign-in.
  • At the My Bookmarks page, which gives existing users a quick means of enabling any web browser with the "Track me!" button.

Next, go to the TotalTelecom website but don't key in the search keywords yet. The plan is to use TrackEngine to create your own version of the TotalTelecom page that uses a 'GET' request instead of a 'POST' for submitting a search query. Click on the Track me! button. A dialog box will appear showing the title of the web page and some options about how often you wish to track the page and keywords. Just leave these at their default settings and click on the Expert link near the top left-hand corner of the dialog box to show a further list of options.

Scroll down to the one titled And deliver to my mailbox: and select None. Then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the OK button to save your settings. TrackEngine will now create its own version of the TotalTelecom page which uses 'GET' requests for the search function. By using this page to do the search, you will be able to bookmark the search results. To access this page, first go to My Bookmarks and look for the entry titled TotalTelecom - World News. Click on the Report link. If you encounter an error message, it means that TrackEngine is still in the process of retrieving the page, just wait a little while and try again.

Once the page is available, you will see a replica of the original TotalTelecom page, except for a short header message which was added by TrackEngine. Now is the time to key in the search keyword and cick on GO to perform the search. Notice that the URL of the search results page this time is different from the one on the original TotalTelecom page. Try to bookmark the search results now. When you visit the bookmark again later, the search results are still there!

You can take this one step further and use TrackEngine to monitor the TotalTelecom search results so that you will be notified whenever there is anything new. First, go back to My Bookmarks and delete the existing entry titled TotalTelecom - World News. Then visit the bookmark you just created for the search results, and click on the Track me! button. This time, leave all the options at their default settings and click on 'Ok'. From now on, TrackEngine will, on your behalf, do the search once a day, and notify you via email whenever there are new results.

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