Friday, November 18, 2005

Mastering the Googleverse
Part 1: Searching by Key Phrase

Google. Used effectively, with precision, skill and deliberation, it's the most comprehensive way to sift through the 8.5 billion websites currently online. But size isn't everything. Statistically, most users use Google so ineffectively that they might as well be dipping their hands randomly into the universe to find their information. And it's a pretty big universe.

Today we begin an ongoing series of tips and tricks designed to help you and your students improve the way you search.

Googletip #1: Searching by Key Phrase

Did you know that google and other search engines allow you to treat multiple-word phrases as single keywords?    Today's strategy ensures that a search engine only looks for your words in order, and without other words between them.

Using entire phrases as if they were a single search term or keyword is a valuable way to get the best search results quickly...and to weed out infoglut.

To search by phrase, all you need to do is put quotes around the words you want to find, like this:

"i like new york in june"

Without quotes, Google ignores the words i and in, so the first results you'd get from Google would be those pages which use the remaining words (like, new, york, and june) most often out of the billions of websites "out there".    

In this case, for example, the first result for the UNquoted keywords I like New York in June is a restaurant review in which the phrase New York is separated from the words June and like by a bunch of other words we neither need nor want.   On the other hand, the first result for the properly quoted phrase "I Like New York in June" calls up multiple references to the song "How About You" from the 1941 musical Babes on Broadway -- which is what I was looking for!   

Note, as well, that there were only 977 total results for the quoted phrase, while there are over 25 million results when I don't use today's tip.   Talk about information overload!   

Searching by phrase can be especially useful when...


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