Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Better Googling

I thought I'd search for a synonym by typing "synonym" and the word I was searching for in Google (it worked) but I also found a site stating if you used ~ along with your search term, Google will search for synonyms of that term as well. That got me excited, because I realized there could be a whole plethora of ways in which I could put Google to better use, so I did a search for "google tips". I found great stuff from Tech TV's Call For Help, Sree Sreenivason from WABC in New York, PC Magazine, and Google itself.

I put together my own list, thinking of my wish to search faster and more accurately, whether working reference on-call, or doing my own thing.

I played around with it, and found these operators won't necessarily make searching easier. Perhaps with use I'll find the appropriate ways to use these new functions. For instance, I looked for mention of the Multnomah County Library. In some cases the number of hits increased when I tried to limit it in various ways from including MCL's own web pages. I figure since MCL's own pages have the highest rankings when ordinary searches are done, when I did these unusual searches leaving those out, the Google rankings started losing their meaning. The hits returned were no longer the familiar front pages of web sites, but many single pages of web sites.

I also found some of the advanced operators don't work, or I couldn't get them to work, even though they're found on the Google help pages. Language: didn't work for Spanish...it returned pages in English.

Those terms with a colon are advanced operators, add them to your search terms. Most of these require no space between the operator colon and the search term. Example: "intitle:multnomah library" will return results with "multnomah" specifically in the web page title and "library" anywhere in the page.

Basic Reference directly from the Toolbar

Maps--Type the street address and the zip code, Google recognizes this as a map search
Phone book--Type name, city (optional), and state
Reverse Directory--Type the phone number in the search engine
bphonebook: specifies business listings for phonebook search
rphonebook: specifies residential listings for phonebook search
define: Provides a definition of the words you enter after it, gathered from various online sources. The definition will be for the entire phrase entered. You can also simply type the word, then click "definition" found on the right side of the results page. This yields the dictionary.com entry.

Refining Searches (we all know "", +, and -)

~ Looks for the term, and any synonyms of the term
.. Two periods between two numbers searches that number range. Specify the unit of measure, dollar sign, etc. ($150..200; 100..200 lbs; 1993..1997)
allintitle: Looks for all search terms only in the web page title.
intitle: Looks for web pages containing that word in the title.
intext: The opposite of intitle:, searches only the body text, ignoring titles, links, etc. (I found the terms could still be in the title. "-intitle:" will give results without the term in the title. Not sure that’s useful anyway.)
stocks: Treats search terms as stock ticker symbols, links directly to stock quote page. You can also just search the stock symbols, then click on the "Show stock quotes" link on the results page.
site: Limits the results to those websites in the given domain. Could be com, edu, etc. or the whole domain name. Useful to use in place of the search engine on a given site. Also useful with the minus sign to get results from anywhere but a given site.
allinurl: Looks for all search terms only in the url.
inurl: Looks for documents containing that word in the url.
related: Lists pages that are similar to the specified web page.
link: Finds pages linking to a particular web page. (Cannot be combined with other searches.)

Here's some samples of various searches I tried:

Approximate number of hits:

61,500.....multnomah library (mcl's homework center top hit)
527.........."multnomah library" (top hits: homework center, kids page, the county site)
19,600....."multnomah county library" (mcl site top hit)
3,680.......intitle:multnomah library (homework center top hit)
1,640.......allintitle: multnomah library (homework center top hit)
15,600....."multnomah county library" -site:www.multcolib.org (top hits: county site, friends of library, county, ipac page)
56,900.....-inurl:multcolib multnomah library
none........-inurl:multcolib allintitle:multnomah library
1,920.......-inurl:multcolib intitle:multnomah library
54,000.....-inurl:multcolib intext:multnomah library
51,300.....-inurl:multcolib intext:multnomah library -intitle:multnomah
499..........-inurl:multcolib "multnomah library" (top hits: dailywireless on mcl’s access trial, Library Journal)
15,500.....-inurl:multcolib "multnomah county library"
14,700.....-inurl:multcolib "multnomah county library" -inurl:multnomah (a lot of very specific pages)
29............related:www.multcolib.org (top hit:www.multcolib.org; results include the Official Site of the Portland Trail Blazers...hmmmm)

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