Searching The Internet For Information The Google Way
by: Sandra Stammberger
The Internet today is an ever growing database of knowledge.
But as with almost anything in life there are some negative things attached to this aspect of the Internet.
First, the Internet is not an ordinary encyclopedia, i.e., an organized knowledge database. The Internet is more like a disorganized database to which everyone can contribute. Because of the diverse and widespread information input and the requirement to find specific information when one needs it, there is a need to bring some sort of organization to the Internet community. Today there are web directories and search engines as two of the most useful mechanisms responsible for bringing order to the Internet.
If you are searching for a definition of a term, Google offers help here too. You have to type "define:" (without the quotation marks) followed by the word or words you want defined. If Google has come up with that definition on the Internet it will be displayed for you at the top of the search results. Please note that if you enter more words after "define:" Google will see those words as a phrase.
When you have a URL of a website that interests you (e.g. www.example-url.com) you can find all the websites that link to that site, all the websites related (similar) to that site and check what info Google has on that particular site.
You will use "link:" followed by the URL of your choice (e.g. "link:www.example-url.com" - without the quotation marks) when you want to find all websites that link to that site. The prefixes "related:" and "info:" are used in the same way.
Search engines are yet another tool that helps you find information on the Internet. There are many search engines on the Internet but the biggest and the most popular are Google, AOL/Netscape, Lycos and MSN. Some of them also have their own web directories, which are often composed of dmoz data combined with their own data.
Search engines, however, are different from web directories. They do not categorize links to web places like web directories do but they allow users to "search the internet" using specific search terms. However, it should be noted that what is really being searched at the moment you submit your inquiry (in the form of a search term) is, in fact, a database. These databases are constantly updated and upgraded with so called 'search engine spiders' which search the Internet all the time looking for new and recently updated websites.
So what search engines can help you do is to find which pages contain, and are the most relevant to, the search term you have used. For determining the relevancy of a page to the search term, they use complex algorithms which are not completely revealed to the public. The reason for this is that these algorithms, once known to public, could then be used to adjust a site's ranking, ignoring the fact that the content of the website must be relevant to what people are searching for. Search engines want visitors to return to their websites and thus need to provide quality. This quality is relevant results for a visitor's search inquiry.
With the basic operation of web directories and search engines now explained, what are effective ways to use them to obtain relevant information?
Here are a few simple tricks that many people do not know when searching the Internet for information using various search engines. Let us look at Google, since at the moment Google (http://www.google.com) is the most popular, and thought by many the most comprehensive, search engine.
When you search for something on Google you may get a variety of results, some more and some less relevant to the original search inquiry. For example, you may end with results from various newspaper articles that merely mention the search term, but the content may be totally unrelated to the search inquiry. A good technique to minimize unrelated resultsis to place "intitle:" or "allintitle:" before your search terms.
The "intitle:" option is used when you search for a single word search term and anything you write after that word will not be affected by the intitle option. So if you want a phrase to be affected by the intitle option you will use "allintitle:" instead. E.g. "intitle:cars" but "allintitle:used cars" (without the quotation marks). Note that there should be no space between the colon and your search term.
A similar effect can be accomplished with the options "inurl:" and "allinurl:" but here Google will restrict the results to show only those results where the URLs contain the word or phrase you have searched for.
Should you wish to search only a certain website, not the whole Internet, you can use "site:" followed with the URL of the website you wish to search. But note that the search term here comes BEFORE the "site:" which is followed by the URL of the website. E.g., "download linux site:www.linux.org".
The only time quotation marks are used in searching is when you are searching for a phrase and not combined with any of the above mentioned prefixes. For example, "searching the internet" with quotation marks will search for the exact phrase and "searching the internet" without quotation marks will search for the places where the words "searching", "the" and "internet" appear not strictly in that order. Logically, by using quotation marks when searching you will get fewer results but more relevant ones, while without the use of the quotation marks you will get more but usually less relevant results.
This explanation and these little tricks should help you use the Internet more efficiently in the search for information and should improve the quality and relevance of your search results.
Note: Google™ is a trademark of Google Inc.