February 17, 2007

Raise your Google IQ in two easy keystrokes

Don't you just hate it when you search for something online and get a gazillion nonsense hits that have nothing whatsoever to do with what you were looking for?

It doesn't have to be that way.

As I mentioned before, I'm a hopeless information geek. I went to grad school in Information Science fer cryin out loud. Plus, I've spent a significant chunk of my career getting paid to do research. Let's just say I know a lot about hunting down information using that series of tubes that make up the internets.

Raise Your Google IQ with Two Simple Keystrokes:

1. [shift key]
2. [ " key]

A single quotation mark at the beginning of a phrase will ensure you only get hits for pages that contain that exact phrase. Otherwise, you'll end up with hits for any pages that happen to have those words -- even if there's twenty paragraphs of text in between them.

More Signal, Less Noise.

Search on the words practical and archivist and you get 480,000 hits. Put a single quote at the beginning and there's only 611 to sift through.

Why don't people do this every time they search?

Partly because no one ever told them about phrase searching. And partly because search engines are designed to guess what it is you're looking for, and they place their best guesses toward the top. For a phrase that's uncommon (like "practical archivist") it's not even necessary. For example, this blog shows up in the #1 spot whether you use quotes or not.

The next time you're faced with gazillions of nonsense hits, let Google know exactly what you're looking for. Two keystrokes is all it takes.


Jasia said...

Thanks Sally, great tip!

Sally J. said...

Anytime, Jasia. More tips to come!