Jan 17, 2010

How to search more effectively - Part 1

Hey what is there in searching, just go to Google and type in what you are looking for and hit the search button. And what do you get, a whole mountain of sites with leads to search through before getting to that particular information you want.

Maybe for regular searches get you the best results right away, but when you have to search for something that is a little specific and not readily available, then what do you do? Try many combinations of the search words and hope that you will get lucky.

Frankly, most times you are unable to get satisfactory information even after searching for hours. I won’t say that I can show you how to search for anything and get the perfect results, but I can surely make your search a whole lot more effective.

Point 1

Let us begin with the basics. Did you know that if you want to search for a specific combination of words, then putting the words within double inverted commas (“ and ”) will get you only those search results that have those words in the exact sequence and one after the other?

This is the very simplest of ways to refine your search. Let’s say you are looking for any information on James Davis who lives in Illinois. Go to Google and search for ‘James Davis Illinois’. You get all search results with the three words mentioned anywhere within the webpage. Now put the words within double inverted commas and search in Google – “James Davis Illinois”.

You will get much fewer results and in every result the words ‘James Davis Illinois’ appears together. Makes it so much easier for you to find the correct James Davis isn’t it.

Point 2

Now, let me tell you a further tip on how to get better search results. Using your common sense and your imagination, just think that if this person’s name was being mentioned in an article, write-up or anywhere, what would the most likely construct of the sentence be. In all probability it will be ‘James Davis from Illinois’ or ‘James Davis from Illinois’ or ‘James Davis living in Illinois’.

Now do a search of these phrases within double inverted commas. You will get even better results. A simple modification but improves your chances of finding information about the person. You can use this technique to search for anything. Just imagine what the thing you are searching will appear as when written as a part of a sentence, and search that phrase in Google within double inverted commas.

Point 3

Now, let’s get a little advanced. Do you sometimes look for the definition or the meaning of a term or word by searching for it on Google. And when you search for the word, results appear where the word or phrase has been used as a part of a sentence or write-up, without showing any meaning or definition. So what do you do? Well you just write the word ‘definition’ with a colon (:) in front of the phrase or word whose meaning you are searching for. Let’s say you were looking for the meaning of ‘best-of-breed’. Just search by typing in ‘definition: best-of-breed’ (without the single or double quotes, I have put the words within single quotes so that they are seen as separate from the sentence), and you will get its meaning and definition right away.

Point 4

A very simple thing that stares u in the face yet few of us use is ‘Cached’ under each result. It is very useful because many a times when we see the results it shows that the page does not exist, that’s when you can click on cached and get that very page as it was recorded on Google. Just make sure you make a copy of whatever you need quickly as the cached page may be deleted very soon.

Point 5

Now let us enter the arena of Google Search Operators and . Don’t be intimidated by the term, they are merely a way of saying words and terms that help refine your search. There is a huge list of operators and what they do, but when you see it, your mind gets a little boggled. So what I am going to do here is tell you just a few of them, so that you get a taste of their power. Once you are comfortable with them, I will point you to the webpage where you will find a bigger list.

minus sign -

Let’s start with ‘-’, the minus sign. It exclusdes the word that is qualified by the minus sign. Before I explain any more, let me tell you that the sign is useless unless you give a space before the minus sign and no space between the minus sign and the word you want excluded.
Example: You want to search all about cats but not about Siamese cats. Your search query will be [cats –siamese]. If you search [cats-siamese], it will be considered a hyphen.

star sign *

The star sign * is very useful. It is the wildcard sign. Let me give an example. Suppose you want to know what was invented by Alexander Graham Bell, search [Alexander Graham Bell invented *], and you will know the answer. You can use your own imagination about how many ways you can use this symbol while searching.

The OR operator

The OR is a very useful operator too. You want to know all the Hollywood movies that were made in either Canada or Ireland, then you will search [Hollywood movies made in Canada OR Ireland], to get the best results.

Well let me stop here for this first part. The rest will be in part two that will be coming very soon.

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