In the first article of this series, we learned the basics of searching with Google. Now, it is time to move on to some more advanced searching techniques, for when a basic search just won’t cut it. Topics to be discussed today included search operators, advanced search, and understanding the search results.
If your search for â€œdogsâ€ got you more search results than you know what to do with and you canâ€™t find what you are looking for, you can try adding search terms, such as â€œEnglish Dogsâ€ if you are searching for a particular type, or â€œdog breedingâ€ if you want to learn about dog breeding. If entering more search terms still doesnâ€™t cut it down enough, try adding quotation marks around your search terms â€“ this will return only results with BOTH or ALL of your keywords in it.
The asterisk or * is a wildcard operator, which can help you find something when you only know part of a phrase. The wildcard can be used to match whole words, but not partial words. For example the search â€œ I left my * in San Franciscoâ€ would return many matches for â€œI left my heart in San Franciscoâ€, and might possibly return results for other similar phrases, like â€œI left my blood in San Francisco.â€
AND, OR, +, and â€“ are some other popular operators that can help narrow down your searches. You may remember AND and OR from traditional Boolean searches. The AND and OR operators work only when typed in all capitalized letters. The AND operator between two search terms tells Google that the terms on either side of the AND should be included in the search results. The OR operator between two search terms tells Google to match any of the terms connected by the OR operator. + is an inclusion operator, which forces Google to include the indicated word on each result returned. It must come before the term to be included without anyspaces. â€“ is the exclusion operator, which tells Google to exclude the specified term from any search results. Like the inclusion operator, the exclusion operator must come before the term without any spaces.
Another method of narrowing down your search is by using â€œadvanced searchâ€ instead of just the regular simple search. You can choose this option by clicking on â€œadvanced searchâ€ right next to the search box. The advanced search function allows you to narrow down your search to specific file types, publication dates, languages, specific sites, and more. The more options that you choose, the fewer search results you will receive, and the more likely they are to be what you are looking for. However, you want to be sure that you arenâ€™t narrowing it down too much whereby you wouldnâ€™t find enough stuff. If you donâ€™t get enough results, then try removing some of your limiters. If you get too many results, try adding a limiter. Using advanced search will help you find what you are looking for faster because you donâ€™t have to sort through as much stuff that is not what you are looking for.
Understanding Search Results:
Now that you have narrowed down your search and gotten your search results, how do you interpret them? How do you know that what was returned is what you are looking for? Understanding search results is a very importance aspect of research. If you know what you are looking for, you can save yourself a lot of time. Additionally, knowing how to read your search results can help you learn useful hints for refining a searching and finding what you are looking for.
By default, Google returns only 10 results per page. However, you can change this by clicking on â€œPreferencesâ€, or through the â€œAdvanced Searchâ€ page. The pages are displayed in the order of their PageRank. Pages with the highest PageRank are at the top of the list. PageRank is determined by a number of factors to ensure that you get the best quality information.
After you have completed a search, the number of search results found will be displayed in the upper-right corner above the search results, as well as the length of time it took for Google to conduct the search. This number of results is not the precise number, but rather an estimate. Next to the number of results and the time it took to complete the search, you will also find links to each of your search terms. These links will take you to the wordâ€™s definition on Answers.com.
Each result is represented by the pageâ€™s title and a snippet of text from the web page. The title links to the page. If a title is not available for that site, the URL will be provided. Beneath the siteâ€™s snippet of information, you will also see a Cached link and a Similar Pages link.
If you click the Cached link in a search result, a copy of the web page that Google has downloaded and saved in its cache server appears. It is a snapshot of the web page from a specific time- the date that Google downloaded it. It is very likely that the web page has changed since Google downloaded it. So why should you open a cached result? First, your search terms are highlighted on the cached page, so it makes it easier to find the specific block of information you are looking for. Cached pages open more quickly than the live site because Googleâ€™s servers are far superior to anyone elses, and if you canâ€™t access the actual web page for some reason (it was moved, deleted, server is down, etc.) you will still be able to view the page.
Clicking the Similar Pages link will return other results that are most similar to what you are you have found on a particular site. This will most often return competing sites will similar information, and when you are looking for information on a particular subject, but need more than one source, this is a great way to go.
Tomorrow we will conclude the Google Search Series, with helpful information on evaluating sources, and sorting the good sites from the bad sites.