EFFICIENT GOOGLE SEARCHING AND SEARCHES
© O. R. Adams Jr., 2007
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This article was prompted by a person telling me several times, that my website was not well designed, because he could not find it doing Google searches. That was a person who was continually on the internet, but had obviously never learned to efficiently search it. I have also talked to a number of others who seemed to have similar problems with the internet.
In this paper I will cover a few helpful things, and give references where more comprehensive studies on searching Google may be found. To me, Google is still the only worthwhile search engine, although I am not familiar with all of them. Yahoo is the next best known search engine, and has made statements on how they were going to improve, and even have more information than Google, but my tests show that they are still a long ways from it, unless you pay for their services. Also, it appears that sites paying for Yahoo's services tend to be placed at the top by it. I believe that Google has more integrity in that regard. Google says that they do not give websites better search listing ratings for pay, and it appears to me that this is true.
Using Small (Not Capital) Letters And Quotation Marks
The first rule for efficiently finding things by subject searches is to put the words in small setters and in quotation marks in the Google search box.
I believe that the best way to explain the efficiency of these things is by some actual examples of Google searches.
When I chose the name for my magazine, American Traditions Magazine, I first did a Google search, for two reasons. First, I wanted to find out if that name was already being used. Secondly, I wanted a unique name that could be easily found by a Google search. Bingo! I hit the jackpot on both. I did a Google search with "american traditions magazine" and Google said that the phrase was not found. But people still must know how to search for it.
Let's experiment with the name, and using it in the Google search box.
Searching with the words, American Traditions Magazine, just now resulted in 5,840,000 hits, and my website was not on the first page and how far it was down I wouldn't try to find out. Not good.
Doing a proper search using small letters and in quotation marks: "american traditions magazine", gets only one hit – my website, www.americantraditions.org. You can't ask for anything more.
It has been that way ever since Google first crawled and indexed my website.
Suppose someone can only remember my name, and wants to try to find the website with that.
Using O. R. Adams Jr. gets me 26,400,000 hits, and I am not on the first page, and I'm sure not going to hunt to see how far down I might be. Not good at all!
Using "O. R. Adams Jr." gets 465,000 hits. Try figuring that one out! I used quotation marks.
Using "o. r. adams jr." gets 72 hits, and most of them pertain to me. All of the first ones pertain to me, and the fifth one on the first page is this website. Good enough.
Google says: "By default, Google only returns pages that include all of the search terms." Fine, but the problem is that it also returns all of pages that contain all of the words and separated letters, no matter how disconnected and irrelevant the page is to the subject of interest. And a page on a website is not like a page in a book. For example, my book, As We Sodomize America, is 648 pages, but it is only one page on this website. I am sure that there are some web pages that are much larger than that. So it is obvious that if you are interested in material on a subject containing several key words like American Traditions Magazine, you are not interested in millions of pages that just happen to have all of those words, no matter how far apart and unrelated, and which have nothing whatsoever to do with the subject in which you are interested. Also, on small websites, even if the exact phrase is on it, and is the subject of the website, it is not likely to be near the top, and how far down it might be is anyone's guess.
If you are going to use a person's name in a search, surely you must be interested in something about that particular person. Using a search that gets 26,400,000 hits, when only 72 relate to the subject is ridiculous, when you really think about it. It is a hopeless result. Even the 72 hits are enough to wade through. The same is true of any other subject.
Take another example from this website, the article, The Bases of Mathematics are Intelligently Designed. If you are sufficiently interest in that subject, you do not want to wade through all of the irrelevant hits that just happen to have all of the key words in that subject. They are 1,100,000 hits, and I defy you to wade through them and find one that has any relevance to the subject, even though I know the subject article will be in there somewhere. The most sensible search is to put the subject in full, with small letters and in quotation marks, in the Google search box. You will get one hit, and that will be the article. Even a search with, "mathematics are intelligently designed", will only get one hit – this website. Let's try a search with the two key subjects: "bases of mathematics" +"intelligently designed". Or: "bases of mathematics" +"intelligent design". Each search still gets only one hit – this website. This rather clearly shows that there is only one article on the internet that is actually on this subject, and that it can be very easily found with any proper search. But if you make an improper search, you have the hopeless task of going through 1,100,000 articles, only one of which is relevant. The average person would consider it hopeless, or that there is no such article.
Let us use one more name as an example on this matter – the name of this article, Efficient Google Searching and Searches. Why did I choose that particular name?
I of course didn't consider it, but searching with: Google Searches, gives 15,300,000 hits.
Using: google searching, returns 18,000,000 hits. Terrible!
Using: "google searching", gets 272,000 hits. Better, but I wouldn't consider the name.
Using: "searching and searches". 121 hits. Not bad, but not good enough.
Using: "efficient google searches", gets 63 hits Now we're getting closer.
Using: "efficient google searching", cuts it down to only 8 hits. Good, but not perfect.
Using: "google searching and searches", gets no hits. Very good!
But let's use: "efficient google searching and searches". This of course gets no hits on a Google search.
(When I say no hits above, I am of course talking about before the article was put on the website and indexed by Google.)
Even using: "Efficient Google Searching and Searches", got no hits, before the article is put on the web. And it has the advantages of having not just one, but two good search phrases in it, either one of which doesn't get too many hits when used right, and finds this website, after the article is put on it. They are "efficient google searching" and "searching and searches". So, I decided to use the title that includes both good search phrases.
Search Tips from the Google Website
Google has some very good search tips on its website, although they are not quite as easy to find as they once were. To my recollection, Google used to have a "Search Tips" title with a hyperlink to get the information right by its regular search box. It explained the use of some of the common search operators which are called Boolean operators, and used that name for them, the main ones being AND, OR, and NOT. But it still has very good information on its website. It has "Advanced Search Tips" at the top of its "Advanced Search" page, now.
On capitalization, Google says:
Google searches are NOT case sensitive. All letters, regardless of how you type them, will be understood as lower case. For example, searches for george washington, George Washington, and gEoRgE wAsHiNgToN will all return the same results.
But be careful, there is really more to it than the
above. Try the examples again that I referred to above. Why did a search using
"O. R. Adams Jr." get 465,000 hits and a search using "o. r.
adams jr." only get 72 hits? Actually what is happening here is merely a
peculiarity of the Google search system itself. When using "O. R. Adams
Jr.", Google ignores the spacing between and the periods after the O. and
the R., and treats it as if the OR operator is being used in the following
manner: "OR Adams Jr." This makes the O. R. meaningless in this
particular case. A search with
"Adams Jr.", OR "Adams Jr.", "OR Adams Jr.", or
"O. R. Adams Jr.", will all get the same number of hits. Also, the
most efficient search, using "o. r.
On the search operators, Google states:
Several of the more common operators use punctuation instead of words, or do not require a colon. Among these operators are OR, "" (the quote operator), - (the minus operator), and + (the plus operator). More information on these types of operators is available on the Basics of Search page. Many of these special operators are accessible from the Advanced Search page, but some are not. Below is a list of all the special operators Google supports.
There is much more valuable search information under the titles and hyperlinks shown above, and under Advance Search Tips.
However, the most useful of all of the things that I have found for getting right to what you are looking for are using key phrases in small letters, and in quotation marks, and properly using the + and the – operators. The plus mark (+) may also be used in front of key phrases in quotation marks, or in front of words or phrases in parentheses. Also words, or phrases in quotations marks, may have OR or AND between them. It is a good idea to put such groups in parentheses, if used with other words or groups. For example:
washington -george +roundtrip +fare +truck +(ferry OR ferries) +("san juan islands" OR "san juans")
The search with the above got 6 hits. Of interest is the fact that word, fare, will also get to places where the plural, fares, is used, but ferry won't, because ferry is not a part of ferries.
Changing an OR to And in the above, to : washington -george +roundtrip +fare +truck +(ferry OR ferries) +("san juan islands" AND "san juans") cuts the hits down to 3, because the site must contain both San Juan Islands and San Juans in the wording, whereas in the first, either one would do. Also, using the word "washington" may cut the hits down, because part of the San Juan Islands are also in Canada, as well as in Washington.
Another thing to know is that the Google search is limited to 32 words. I tried to find that today in Google's data and instructions, but couldn't. So I put a large number of words in the Google search box, hit search, and Google told me: "in" (and any subsequent words) was ignored because we limit queries to 32 words. The word "in" was apparently the 33rd word in the group.
Google of course has an Advanced Search page on which simple filtered searches can be made, but I don't consider it either as fast or as flexible as using the discussed operators in the regular Google search box, which is the first one that shows up.
Just What Does A Search With Google Search?
When you do a search with Google, you are not searching the internet. You are searching only what Google has "crawled," copied, and put on Google's site, and indexed. This may surprise a lot of people who may wonder how Google could store so much information. How do I know this? I first determined it by testing. I then verified it by searching Google on its technology, webmaster information, and search information.
I determined this when I had a website several years ago to promote the book, As We Sodomize America. First, right after you publish a website, you can do a Google search with key phrases on the home page. You will get nothing on your website, simply because you are not searching the internet. After Google has crawled the site, and had time to store and index one or more of the pages, you can do a search with a unique phrase from the home page and come up with your site. If the phrase is unique enough, the website will be the only hit. (Of course, this is assuming you put the phrase in small letters and in quotation marks.)
Another test is right after you have removed something or changed your website. If Google has not yet crawled and indexed the changes, you cannot find your site with phrases form the new material. On the other hand, you can search with a phrase that has just been removed from the site, and Google will give you the website, even though the phrase is no longer on it. It is also interesting that for a while after I removed my first website from the internet, a search from what used to be on the website would still turn up hits with a Google search. The only thing is that when you clicked a Google hit, it of course did not turn up the website, but a Google page that said that the page wasn't available at the time.
Google has much more information about how to optimize websites and make them more accessible to Google that might be of interest, generally, but is not that critical to searches. It explains how sites can be made more accessible to the Google "bot" (crawler). Also, there may be pages that the webmaster does not want accessed. Sitemaps may be submitted to tell Google what pages you want included and which you want excluded. However, this still doesn't mean that Google will store and index all of the pages you want it to.
It doesn't seem to me that Google stores and indexes as many pages as it used to – probably because of the terrific increase in volume over the last five years. With my first website, I never submitted a sitemap, and Google stored and indexed all of the pages on the site the first time it crawled it. And some were quite lengthy. Although my present website has the same design, Google has not yet stored and indexed all of the pages, even though I have submitted a sitemap that properly points to all of them. Another interesting thing is that sites such as news sites, that are subject to frequent changes need special sitemaps. This tells us that not even these fast changing news sites actually have their actual sites searched directly by a Google search. Otherwise there would be no need for the sitemaps.
Google has a lot of information about how to set up sites better for Google searches and how they are "rated." By rating is meant how far up at the top a site is placed by a search, if the phrase used is on a number of sites. Google states that its system is completely "democratic." The one most important thing seems to be links from other websites, and the descriptive words on the website. Google also says that a number of things determine its "importance," but does not fully explain how importance is determined. However, it seems to me like how large a site is and how many searches lead to it are important. For example, if a unique phrase is on the home page of my site, and the same phrase is on any page of Amazon or Wikipedia, their pages will be above mine in the search results. It is truly amazing that Google would have so much of the websites of Amazon and Wikipedia on Google's own website. But this appears to be the case, and this is what their statements indicate. Wikipedia has a very large number of pages, but I have gone to various pages on its site, picked out unique phrases, and then did a Google search and went right back to them.
Google clearly states that it makes a cache of certain pages of a site. It states: "G o o g l e's cache is the snapshot that we took of the page as we crawled the web. The page may have changed since that time." (Emphasis added.) If you have webmaster tools, you can view a Google's cache of a page of your web. Also, each time you make a Google search and get hits, near the bottom of each item listed will be the word, Cached. If you click this word, it will show Google's cache of the page, with the above information, which also includes the date that the page was crawled and cached.
I have also noticed that, at least on some sites, including my new one, Google makes a count on the number of times a site is returned by a Google search and used to go to the site. Also, if you have Google webmaster tools, you can have Google tell you which phrases are bringing the most hits on your site – giving you the actual number on some.
Anyway, some of the information on how Google crawls, copies, and indexes the pages of a website may give further insight on effective searching. On this website it appears the Google crawls average about 10 days to two weeks apart.
Someday, someone will probably invent a method by which the internet can be directly searched with reasonable swiftness. That person may well become a billionaire. I am sure that there are people in Google, and other software designers, working on it right now.
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