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Search the Web: Gotta Google?

Google Search Deconstructed

How does Google determine rank?  Google does NOT sell it's result spots. Advanced functions allow Google's spiders to rank pages based on a number of features. While their algorithm is patented, this is what we know about how it works:

  • Link popularity counts.  Google analyzes how many external pages actually link TO a page. The reasoning is that links equal "votes" for the page authority. However, not all votes are equal.
    • Links from higher ranking pages count for more than links from lower ranking pages.
    • Links from pages that link to lots of places (link lists) do not count as much.
    • Links from established (long-living) web pages count more.
  • How keywords are placed on a page counts.  Google specifically search for keywords in titles, headings (keywords in larger headings are more valuable).  Google also analyzes the dispersal of keywords through out a page.
  • Page longevity counts. The longer a page continues to appear in other search results, the better it will be ranked in yours.  This is the only way that "hit popularity" effects the results.

Search Tips

Looking for this OR that...BOOLEAN SEARCHING
Most search engines, including Google, assume the word AND when you enter multiple terms. 

If you are looking for ANY one of several keywords, you can use the OR operator. (Note: The OR has to be capitalized).

Example: A search for [violence AND  television OR  movies]will return both sites that talk about violence in movies and sites about violence on television, even if they don’t mention the other medium.


Keeping it all together... RELATIVE SEARCHING
Use quotation marks to force the engine to recognize full names, keep words in multi-word terminology together, or find explicit phrases.  

Example: [“Samuel Hatton” ]will not return sites that include persons named Samuel Johnson and David Hatton but no person named Samuel Hatton.

Example:  A search for [“global warming”] will not return a site that talks about global ski travel and warming up by a fireplace.


Rooting around...WILD CARD SEARCHING 
Use the * (asterisk) to tell the search engine you are looking for all possible variations of a root word.  If you include the asterisk alone before or after a keyword, you reserve a space for all possible associated terms.


Example:  A search for [ teen* ] will return teens, teenager, etc.

Example:  [ *Cowell ] returns all people with that last name while [ Lora* ]returns all people with that first name.

Example:  Google offers the example [Obama voted * on the * bill] to learn about Obama’s votes on several different bills.


Type a – sign in front of a term to exclude sites that focus in on a given context.  

Example:  A search for [virus –software]will return results that include all viruses except software viruses.



Some search engines auto-correct or use synonyms, which can frustrate a search for very specific information.  Search for terms with unusal or deliberate misspelling by including a + sign immediately before your keyword.


Example:  Searching for [ +Pickels ]will not return results with sites on how to make pickles.


To find words that are similar to or synonyms of a general term, use the "~" in front of the word.


Example: A search for [ ~teachers ] will return results pertaining to teachers, professors, instructors, etc.


Somewhere in between…RANGE SEARCHING 
Use two periods (not three) between two numbers to search for information included within a numberical rance, such as price or date. 

Example: A search for [ 1940..1950 ] will return information about the years between 1940-1950. 


Need to narrow your search down to specifics?  Try these indicators before your search term:

Search:  site:.domain extention + "subject I'm looking for" 
Example: "genetically modified organism"
When you search like this, the results will be limited to any site with the .edu extension.  Note that the subject is in quotations (relative search) because it is a multi-word subject.
Search:   site:web address + "subject I'm looking for" 
Example: "plagiarism"
This search will return results housed within a specific website.  This is particularly useful for sites that do not have an index, or sites with couched systems (such as Moodle and LibGuides) or archived pages (such as the  
Search: link:web address  
This search will return a list of sites that link back to the url indicated.  
Search:   define:word
Example: define:bibliobibuli
This search quickly fetch you the definition to an unfamiliar word.

Want more? Checkout this Google Quick Guide to advance search operators. Even more?  Go to the Google Guide Index!

Or check out 29 Things Youd Didn't Know About Google (But Should!) from Huffington Post.

Google Search


Boolean Logic Explained

Become Better At Finding Stuff With Search Engines: Boolean Search Logic Explained
by Tina Sieber at
A clear illustration of how boolean operators work in a search.  Not always necessary when you Google, you'd find the concept useful in other search engines, or when using Google's Advanced Search features.

Follow your digital footprint

Search your own name on occassion in Google on occasion.  Over 50 percent of prospective employers will do so before they will hire you.Want to learn more?  Check out our "Finding Your Digital Footprint," an instructional pathfinder.

Just for Fun

Pigeon Clustering 
Google explain's it's search technology.


Yes, you can search google for the answer to life the universe and everything!

Great Graphic

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