Sunday, September 27, 2009


This might seem like a no-brainer post, but I'm sure there are some people out there who want to make sure they are getting the most out of their search engines. And so I'll start with probably the most common site out there: Google.

The first thing you might see that's different about Google is the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button. What is this? Well, it means if you use it, the only result you'll get is the first one Google would have returned had you simply hit Enter or clicked "Search." It should be the most relevant site and hopefully the one you wanted anyway. Use this button only if you're searching for a certain site, like a company or organization. Otherwise, if you need information from multiple sites or if you're not quite sure what your results will be, you won't see all the possibilities. Still, it can be helpful and fun to play with.

Did you know Google has help screens? To find help with basic searches:
  • start at Google's homepage 
  • click "more" from the top left
  • click "even more" from the menu
  • scroll to the bottom and click "Help"
  • click "Web Search Help"
(To find it more easily, click here and here.)

Some helpful hints:
  • Put quotation marks around phrases to search them as a phrase.
  • Put a minus sign/dash (-) before a word you do not want to search on.
  • Google will automatically search plurals and longer forms of words.
Google also has an advanced search. To use it, click "Advanced Search" to the right of the search box. Mostly what this does is help you figure out the above hints; for example, you can type in an exact phrase or exclude certain words in case you can't remember the shortcuts.

A couple of neat searches include searching within a particular site and seeing which other websites link to a certain page. 

To search within a particular site, you can use the advanced search or you can use the basic search box and type after your search terms. This can be useful if you're having trouble searching a certain site (like maybe the webmaster didn't include a site index or a search box) or if you're not sure whether a certain site has the information you're looking for.

Instead of typing out an entire URL, you can also tell Google to return sites that belong to a certain domain. For instance, if you know you want a government site, you can type after your search terms. (It doesn't seem to matter if you remember the dot. site:gov brings up the same results as

To see which sites link to another one, type in Google's basic search box. You'll see a list of pages that link to that website. This is especially useful if  you are a webmaster yourself and you want to know who's linking to you.

Go on to Part 2.

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