The first tool of choice is an internet search engine. My favorite happens to be Google. Searching for a term generates thousands of search results. Sifting through these results needs a strategy. In this article I talk about a few ways to use more 'relevant search query' and to hone-on on your desired results.
Help is Hidden
Google's search is known for three things. First is the speed its search, which is blazingly fast. Second its search results, which are very relevant. Third its user interface which is minimalist and barely contains anything else besides a text field to enter your search query.
This simplicity belies its power. This seemingly simple search string holds the key to unleash Google's (hidden) power. The search string can be altered in specific ways to let Google's search engine know more about what we are searching for.
It does not matter if you capitalize your search query or not. So searching for 'Hotel' is the same as searching for'hOteL' which is same as 'hotel'.
Order in which your words appear in your search query matters a lot. So searching for 'Sky Blue' will produce different results and the search query string 'Blue Sky'.
Is it Fruit or Fruits?
'Fruit' is spelled differently than 'Fruits'. So technically they are two distinct words. However, Google now uses stemming technology and when appropriate, it will search not only for your search terms, but also for words that are similar to some or all of those terms. English language has enough quirks so - don't count on this feature to work 100% correctly.
Either one would do.
You are looking for a restaurant in San Francisco serving either italian or chinese food. The query could be'Restaurant San Francisco Italian OR Chinese'. Note that the word 'OR' has been capitalized.
Amazon was a River
Now Amazon is an internet bookstore and an e-commerce giant! Search for 'Amazon' will generate thousands of results and the top ten results will probably be about the internet bookstore and its services. This is not what we want. We want the Amazon - the river.
Change the search query and utilize the plus '+' operator. Now the search query looks like Amazon +river - this indicates that we want to see search results which have both the word amazon and the word river in them. This time the top ten search results are about Amazon River.
Lamps and Genies
You are looking to decorate your home with some electric lights. You are also looking for some old oil lamps - the genie kind. Search for 'Lamp' generated results about the LAMP platform. LAMP - stands for Linux ApacheMySQL and PHP.
Change the search query to exclude results with Linux. This can be done by prefixing the 'minus sign before the word Linux. Now the search query looks like 'Lamp -Linux'. Now are results are about lighting.
Looking for definitions
Prefix the word the operator define: and you have the query string. So to get the definition for life the query string would be 'define: life'.
Google as World Clock
To get the current date and time in London use the operator 'time:'. The query string would be 'time:London'.
Would You Need a Brolly?
Is it going to rain when you get off the airport in London? You can find out using the 'weather: ' operator. The query string would be 'weather:London'.
Is the US Dollar Weak?
Is the US trade deficit decreasing the value of US Dollar? The way to find out would be to see its value in Pounds.
Try the query string: '1 USD in GBP'.
Search a Particular Website
What do you do if your favourite website does not implement search feature or is clumsy to use? Use the site:operator of course.
Look at the following search query:
'site:sfbay.craigslist.org OR site:sandiego.craigslist.org Aquarium'.
This would search San Francisco Bay Area's craigslist and San Diego's craigslist website for Aquariums.
Who Links to Jonathan Schwartz's Blog?
Jonathan Schwartz, Sun Micro System's CEO, is a pioneer CEO blogger. How do you find out all the web sites that have a link to his blog? Use the 'link: ' operator. The search query would be 'link: https://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/'.
Google as Calculator
Just type the math expression into the Google search box.
Some examples include:
- '5 * 6' would display 30 - the product of 5 and 6.
- '5 ^ 2' would display 25 - which is 5 raised to the power of 2.
- 'SQRT(625)' would display 25 - which is the square root of 625
Internet search in general and Google in particular have become indispensible tools in our quest for specific and relevant information. The search query syntax and special operators allow us to harness the full-power of Google. Google continues to improve its search and is constantly making improvements and adding new features. So some of the syntax and behaviour mentioned in this article may change. So keep looking out for new developments all the time. I hope that this article would have tickled you to explore some of the other Google search features.
P. S.: The rock bank U2 "still haven't found what they were looking for." However, the good news is that'Nemo - the clown fish' has been found.