Yesterday during a presentation I made to the Victoria Real Estate Board’s Commercial Division an excellent question was posed : how do I improve the search results I get from Google? If you want to get directly to Google’s answer follow this link [ http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?answer=136861 ]. If you are curious on how to really use this information read on!
Let’s go with the idea that you are looking for information regarding a particular individual. (Google’ing someone is common practice these days – or, so I’m told. Wonder if my mother-in-law would have Google’d me before allowing me to date her daughter? Probably.) Ok, let’s find a someone that has a public history – say – Emily Carr.
Searching simply for ‘Emily Carr’ finds me 549,000 results. Not bad. The first page shows nothing but relevant results.
What if we are looking for a painting of her’s but we can’t quite remember the title. We do remember that the word ‘forest’ is in the title. ‘Emily Carr forest’ finds us 714,000 results. Yuck. All kinds of non-relevant results are included now. Using Google’s suggestion I change the search to be ‘”emily carr” forest’ – 652,000 results. That helped a little. At least now I’m looking at results that are primarily about Emily Carr.
One more try using the “fill in the blanks” method: ‘”emily carr” edge * forest’. See that I’m using quotes around here name to force Google to return that exact phrase and the * (wildcard) between ‘edge’ and ‘forest’ to “fill in the blanks”. Now the return is specific to the painting I was searching for. There’s still 373,000 results but they are all (as far into the fourth page of results – and that’s as far as I’m going to check!) relevant.
So, you can see that in short order we have improved our search dramatically. Even if you never view results beyond the second page the relevancy of your search has improved.