Potty Page

December 9, 2003

Pet Hates: Google Searches

Well I wanted to do a page on the blog with things that I hate and things that I like. But I couldn't think of much that I like, you know me...

So instead I thought I'd do a series of things that are my pet hates. Today's is... people who have an inability to effectivly search on Google. This all steming from me seeing waaay too many people who can't do it for toffee, and it frustrates me... I just want to grab the keyboard and find them what they are looking for!

So read here and be educated and click on the example searches I've used so you can see what's happening!

Firstly... why haven't you read Advanced Searches Tips page?


Right suppose you want to find bog roll with goldfish on it. You could do a search for goldfish bog roll, this will return all pages with the words goldfish, bog, roll in it (I don't need to use the word AND between the words, the space automatically is one. But that doesn't really help us... it returns at least 500 pages. I don't care about roll that isn't related to bogs.

So... what can we do...? well we can put bog roll in quotes... like this "bog roll", that means that the space in between bog and roll isn't an AND anymore, it's now a proper space, goldfish "bog roll". Magic, only about 30 pages returned now.

But I don't want pages about Red Dwarf... so I can add red dwarf and put a minus sign in front of it... but look here, I need to put red dwarf in quotes... 'cause otherwise it'll discard every page with the word 'red' in and only pick pages from this set which contain the word dwarf, goldfish and "bog roll" in it. Not what we want! See here... goldfish "bog roll" -red dwarf, it returns nothing, nothing at all. So now we have goldfish "bog roll" -"red dwarf".

Unfortunatly there isn't any pages on the web selling goldfish bog roll it seems... or they just don't call it bog roll...

So there you go. You DON'T need to put an AND or a + between the words to find something on Google - it guesses you want pages with all the words in (that's why you typed them...)

There is however a use for the + operator. This tells Google that the page you are looking for MUST contain the word/phrase directly after it (with long phrases and stuff Google sort of uses it's intellegence to find stuff and drops words, like when you ask it a question).

But please note that you NEED to butt the + sign up against something... there's no point having it floating in the middle.

Lets do another example... we want to find pages on the order of the garter. That search will find all pages containng the words order and garter (Google drops 'of' and 'the' as they are very common words). But suppose I really want it to contain the words of and the... you could use this order +of +the garter. This still doesn't do get what you'd probably want (but shows use of the operator!), as it'll return pages which have all the words in, not necessarily pages on the "order of the garter". If you put quotes around the whole thing Google will search for pages containg the whole phrase.

Note that order + of + the + garter returns exactly the same number of pages as order of the garter. Proof that if the pluses aren't connected to the phrase, they are useless (the same goes for minuses).

When searching for something specific I generally find that it helps to use the + sign and quotes lots, to make sure I know that Google is giving me the pages what I want, although for lots of searches it's not really necessary. Here endeth the very long lesson. Hope you can find what you are looking for now...!

Posted by Ed at December 9, 2003 5:31 PM | Rant |