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Eric Moore

Google Tip:  Narrowing Your Search with Contextual Keywords

Eric Moore, CUGG

January 12, 2007

As Don Wiegel has mentioned in the past, there is an art to using a search engine effectively to find the information you need.  As a rule of thumb, the more specific you are in your search criteria, the better are your chances of quickly finding what you need.  Sometimes using a keyword helps narrow down the results to the type of information you wish to find.

A popular use I have for Google is finding the lyrics of a song that I enjoy listening to.  Oftentimes I know the song’s title and as well as a stanza or a unique phrase in the lyrics.  Searching by song title is an effective way of finding what I need, provided the title is not too generic.  For instance, if I am searching for the lyrics of “Love Is Blue,” I would specify the title within quotation marks to indicate to Google that I am looking for a phrase rather than the individual words.  As a helpful hint, I append my lyrics searches with the word “lyrics” to improve my odds of finding what I want among the first ten matches.  So to summarize, when searching for the lyrics of “Love Is Blue,” I would enter the following (quotes and all) for my Google search:  “Love Is Blue” lyrics.

If I know much less about a song, maybe a smattering of words or a short phrase, I still do my best to make my search as specific as possible.  If I searched for a list of words such as “boat,” “river,” “trees,” “flowers,” and “girl,” I would probably get too many matches to be of help to me, as these are very common words.  On the other hand, if I search for tangerine marmalade cellophane plasticine lyrics, I will quickly find the lyrics to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamond.”

When I was shopping for a digital camera in December, I read some product reviews on a few websites include Digital Photography Review and Steve's Digicams.  I did not always find what I was looking for at these sites, so I discovered an easy way to find product reviews on other websites I had not heard of.  All I had to do was to specify the model number of the camera followed by the word “review.”  This excluded many retail websites.  As an example, my search for Canon PowerShot A710 review proved to be fruitful.  I have used the strategy for other products, though the results can still be hit and miss.

Lastly, if you find the standard search page for Google to be too limiting, you may choose to use Advanced Search.  Advanced Search enables you to specify a host of criteria such as the file format, the language in which the page is written, keywords by which pages should be excluded, and the site or domain where you wish to search for information.


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