[Guide]Learn to Google effectively

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[Guide]Learn to Google effectively

Post  Admin on Sun Aug 03, 2008 11:03 pm

With nearly 9 billion documents in it's index Google is a very powerful search engine. It's the search engine the majority of us use. Infact, most people I know don't say "Search the web for it" they say "Google it".

This article will help you to use Google to better effect, and to cut down on superflous results, because, lets face it, getting a few million results in a search isn't really going to improve things for you.

Use the selection listed below to cut down on the dross and streamline your searches.

1) Multiple words - Try and get away from making one-word searches.
2) Upper and lower case - There's no need (or point) in typing in capitals.
3) Commonplace - Leave out common words. They may make a sentence but don't help with a search.
4) Exact phrase - Put quotation marks around phrases.
5) Word order - Try and type your search in the order you think they would be typed in the document(s) you're looking for.
6) Plural and singular - Use either one of these if you think the word will appear in that form in the documents you're looking for.
7) Number range - Numbers between will hit on numbers within that range.
Cool Stemming - Google could also hit on variations of your search unless you precede the word with +
9) Query length - The maximum amount of words that can be in a Google search is 32.

Multiple words: The first port of call to refining your searches is making your searches longer than one word in length. This gives you more of a focused search. Let's say you want to buy a computer capable of gaming. Typing 'gaming computers' will not only hit up E-tailers of such machine's. It will also hit forums and online magazine reviews etc. Instead try typing around exactly what you want; 'cheap core 2 duo 8800 custom built gaming computer'. Doing this will narrow the field considerably. And will also cut down on wayward hit's.

Upper and Lower case: Google searches are not capable of recognising changes in letter case. So, using the example above, don't type 'Core 2' type instead 'core 2' .This will also, over time, cut down on the amount of time you spend typing searches.

Commonplace: Overly common words like the, of, in, where, who, an and is are known as "stop words". Google omit's these words from your query, which means you've wasted time in typing them.

Also, try not to type your search as a question. It's not a very effective way for Google to search for hits. Question's invariably contain superflous words that probably won't appear in the text of the document(s) you're searching for. This means that a lot of hits that could have been useful to you now won't show up in your search results.

Exact phrase: If you're looking for an exact phrase in a search rather than those words you've typed spread out throughout a document put the search words inside quotations marks, this will help Google search for hits containing that exact phrase and will also reduce the number of hits, the majority of which won't be any use to you. As an example try typing pet insurance without quotation marks and then search again with the quotation marks used.

You can also include more than one phrase in a single search (upto 32 words long). Try typing "dog insurance" labrador "london" ; this search would hit on documents that contain the word labrador in front of, or behind the phrase dog insurance, but give preference to pages where labrador appears after dog insurance.

Try not to create searches that shouldn't be phrases. In "dog insurance" labrador "london" you might think about putting just one set of quotation marks around the whole set of words, ( "dog insurance labrador london" ). Such a search wouldn't hit on many (if any) documents because it isn't natural language.
A shortcut for you lazy people to placing quotation marks around a phrase is to put a full-stop (no spaces) between each word in a phrase. "dog insurance" and dog.insurance are exactly the same query as far as Google is concerned.

Word order: It's helpful, and important, to choose the order of the words in your search carefully. It won't affect the number of hits, but it does affect the rankings of those hits. So instead of being on page one of the completed search, the hit that's most useful to you could be on page 5. Meaning more time taken searching for the document you want. This is because Google prioritises hits where those words or phrases appear in the order given in your search.

Plural and Singular: Before typing your search think about whether or not the hits you seek are more likely to containg the singular form or the plural form of a given search word, and then use that form in the search.

Number range
: Your search can span a numerical range. You show that range in your search by typing two full-stop's between two numbers. These number's can be any value; years, distances, whatever you like.

As an example a search for lottery winners 2000..2006 will find hits that contain information for lottery winners in the years 2000,2001,2002,2003,2004,2005 and 2006.

For another shortcut for this you could leave out the lowest number in the range and Google will assume you want zero. Or you could leave out the highest number in the range and Google will assume you want infinity. As an example if you were to type lottery winners ..2006 Google will hit on any year upto 2006.

Stemming: Sometimes Google will automatically hit, when searching, on variations of a word. This is called stemming. It does this by matching words that are based on the same stem as a word entered in a search.

So, for the query freight distributing london, Google will also hit on pages that don't mention the word distributing but will hit on a variation on the stem of this word which is distribut. So you'll also find pages that have distributor, distributors and distribution in your search results.

Search length: Basically, with Google the more words you have in your search the better. There is though, as mentioned above, a limit. In Google's case that limit is 32 words. Any word after that is ignored by the search. So remember about number 5: Word order and you shouldn't go too wrong. Although it's highly unlikely you'll exceed this limit unless you want to specify a lot of sites to keep a lot of restriction on your search.

That's it for now. In the next Google article I'll be giving you a list of commands that can reduce your hits even further to precisely what you want (in a lot of cases). These commands will also save you further time in typing your searches.

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