With an estimated 400 million searches conducted every day, Google is the world’s most widely used search engine database. Current estimates of how many pages Google indexes range between 25 and more than 100 billion pages – impressive, although even Google doesn’t cover the entire Internet.
Google ranks these pages for importance and relevance in an algorithm that weighs hundreds of variables that address the content and meta-content of each individual page and the networked environment in which it exists.
The quickest and most common way to search Google is to conduct a basic keyword search, which will return results based on this ranking system. Sometimes, however, this type of search is not an efficient route to the most relevant results.
Below are a number of features that can be used to improve results, using either “operators” or “symbols”, illustrated with searches for Ruth Prickett, founding editor of Illustration and formerly of Financial Management Magazine.
Operators can be used to restrict searches to particular sections of web pages:
intitle: searching by intitle will search only the titles of web pages
allintitle: finds pages where unrelated terms make up the title of the web page.
Inurl: restricts the search to the web pages URL.
allinurl: finds pages where unrelated terms make up the title of the web page.
Site: allows you to search for keywords from one particular site
Define: provides a definition of the term that you have entered. This can be used to get the definitions of words, phrases, and acronyms.
filetype: can search for specific file formats including
Symbols can be used to expand or condense search results:
* The asterisk is known as the standard wildcard symbol. It can be used in the place of unknown words
~ The tilde searches for words similar to any other words it has been pared with
.. Using two full stops will search between a numeric range, this is particularly useful for searching within a date or price range
+ The plus symbol can be used if a particular word must be included in the search results
– The minus symbol can be used if a particular word should not be included in the search results
These are just some of the Google features Cision Researchers apply every day to improve search results relevance and overall search efficiency. Of course there are many more features available, which you’ll find listed at the Google Guide.
Don’t forget that Google is only one of the many search engines readily available – Cision Research frequently use additional search engines for particular tasks: for example, people search engines, such as LinkedIn, TinEye and KGB People, multimedia search engines, such as YouTube, Metacafe and Musgle, and of course Google’s competitors, most notably Bing.
Using a combination of the above search methods will improve the validity, relevance and accuracy of the returned results whatever search engine you use. Happy searching!