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Tuesday, August 17, 2004
How to construct a proper Google search
So, I thought I'd kick things off with a look at how to search, since that's what Google is all about.

I have realized, that after years of using Google, I can no longer switch to other search engines. This is not because they aren't as good (although that is pretty much always true) but because Google has become more than just the way I search, it's become a skill of mine. Over time, I have learned how to use Google my way, and because that way doesn't work on Yahoo or MSN Search, I'm completely lost when I try them out.

Let me explain. When I use Google, I have learned, through countless thousands of searches, that simply searching for what you want is not the way to get the result you want. Rather, you need to think and figure out the search that will give you the result you want. It's a backwards way of thinking about searching, but I've found it to be several times more effective on all but the most general searches.

If you are searching for something simply, like Microsoft's website, simply searching for Microsoft will get you it. But if you are doing a complex search, lets say looking for a website that has a hack for Windows XP, you need to get more creative. Assuming you don't know the name of the program, the person who wrote it, or the site its on, a standard search would leave you in the dark. The trick is to anticipate what is on the webpage you are looking for.

Windows is a good word to go in your search, obviously. XP is a requirement if you don't want info on Windows 3.1. But what about the rest of your query? The word "crack" is out. Any user of Google knows there are a million crack websites taking advantage of Pagerank as super link farms. So how do you beat the system?

You guess what the person introducing the hack would be saying. He'd probably be talking about a CD Key. But you better know Microsoft's terminology for a CD Key, which can be "access code", "serial number", "authorization code", or a bunch of other terms. A good word is "registry", since the program probably hacks it. Even "program" might help.

The point is, constructing a complex multi-word query in Google is a skill you learn over time. Power users can find anything on Google in two or three searches, no matter how obscure, while less experienced users wade through several pages of search results. This is a valuable skill, but it is very search engine dependent. A succesful Google search may get you nowhere in MSN or Yahoo, since they have different formulas for searches. I try to use those search engines, and I can't get anywhere, paralyzed by irrelevant results and ignored keywords. For now, because Google and I work so well together, there's no chance I'm jumping ship

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