By Mark Winegar on Mon, 01/14/2013
“A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.” - James Joyce
Students with iPads are primed for a voyage of discovery and Safari is their standard compass. Their ships are propelled by Google’s powerful search engine. All they need is a reason to pull up their anchors. We provide the reason and charts but the journey is theirs.
Google has become for many the pre-eminent Web search engine. In Feb. 1999 it moved from Alpha test version to Beta and officially launched Sept. 21, 1999.
Since that time it has made its mark with its relevance ranking based on link analysis, cached pages, and aggressive growth. Since its beta release, it has had phrase searching and the - for NOT, but it did not add an OR operation until Oct. 2000. In Dec. 2000, it added title searching. In June 2000 it announced a database of over 560 million pages, which grew to over 600 million by the end of 2000 and then 1.5 billion in Dec. 2001. The 2+ billion reported on their home page as of April 2002 includes indexed pages, unindexed URLs, and other file formats. By Nov. 2002, they moved their claim up to 3 billion, and in Feb. 2004 it went to 4 billion. While no official claim is given, 20+ billion is once current estimate. Use the table of contents on the left to navigate this review. (Search Engine Showdown: The User’s Guide to Web Searching)
Here are some advanced searching tips they may find useful in hazardous waters. Share them as needed.
The video above involves a Google search on the word volcano. No boolean logic is required for simple one word searches. Google found 86,500,000 matches for "volcano". However, suppose we want to narrow our search to Icelandic volcanoes. We would need to employ the Boolean AND operator to tell Google both words are required. Google assumes we want to use AND whenever we enter more than one word. So our new search argument would be “Icelandic volcano” which narrows our matches down to a mere 2,650,000. Fortunately, Fortunately, Google tries to place the best one at the top of the list.
Phrasing is another strategy for narrowing searches. Placing quotes around the words Icelandic and volcano narrows our search to 668,000 hits.
AND narrows a search. At times it’s necessary to expand a search to get enough sources. That’s OR’s job!
Searching on the phrase “climate change” produces 107,000,000 hits while a search on “global warming” has only 69,500,000. You can combine the time with the OR (must be all caps) operator and receive 172,000,000 matches.
Google uses the tilde to implement the NOT logical operator. The tilde key is in the top lefthand corner of your keyboard.
Let’s alter our previous search of “climate change” to exclude any hit containing the phrase “global warming”. This search argument would be “climate change” ~”global warming”. This reduces the number of hits from 172,000,000 to 95,300.
This is enough to get you started with advanced searching but if you need more you’ll find it at Search Engine Showdown: The User’s Guide to Web Searching.