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October 30, 2006

Google Searching

In recent years, Google has risen as the most popular search engine on the web. Generally, the results it gives are great for finding information on a broad topic. However, finding more specific information can be a bit tricky.

I find one of the best ways of narrowing down the information is to try searching for various combinations of words related to your topic. I try to use three or four words, in order to keep the search results reasonably focused. However, since Google looks for occurances of the entered words on websites, it may overlook sites that have the information you're looking for but not your specific words. To get around this, searching with Google multiple times, but using synonyms can help find what you're looking for. Also, if you are looking for a specific word pairing, putting those words in quotations will only return sites that have those words in that specific order.

Additionally, Google will often return tens of thousands of sites for a search. However, as you progress down their list, the quality of the sites tends to drop off sharply. Assuming you used a relatively specific set of words for your search, it is likely that only the first dozen or so sites will be relevant to what you're looking for. Sites that show up in the first ten results multiple times when you change the words are very likely to be useful.

Google offers two functions for search results: cached and similar pages. I found similar pages to be less effective than performing multiple searchs using synonyms, since you don't get to control which words in your search are most important. The "cached" function is great if you are looking for a very specific bit of information on huge sites with tons of stuff on them. It will highlight each word you searched for on the website, making finding what you're looking for quick and efficient.

The internet has a ton of information out there and finding exactly what you want can be a bit tricky. Using these tricks will improve both the speed with which you can find information and the quality of that information.

Posted by ptbrock at October 30, 2006 12:30 PM

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