Originally published in The Clarion | September 19, 2012
Continuing our evaluation of smart Web searching, let’s recall the example I used last week. Loosely, a general rule in Web searching would be that you’re going to get out of the search as much as you put in to it. By that, I simply mean a weak search string will likely return a weak search result. Searching the term ‘football’ when you’re specifically looking for the scores from the previous nights’ games is essentially illogical. A much better search string for this scenario would be something like ‘college football scores’ or even more specifically ‘college football scores <date>’ where <date> is the actual date of the games that were played. This example holds true of most any information you might be searching for on the Web. Searching for ‘Ronald Reagan’ will return an untold number of results in no particular order, while searching for ‘Ronald Reagan birthplace’ will prioritize the search results so that you can quickly, often without even having to click the link that is given, get your answer.
There are a few other smart searching tips that I use frequently, a couple of which we’ll look at now. The first is one that I use quite often simply because my vocabulary isn’t what I’m sure my mother wishes it was. Again, this trick works in Google Chrome but may or may not work in other browsers. In the search box or your Address Bar, typing define:<search term> where <search term> is the word you want the definition for will return definitions for that term from many of the popular online dictionaries. An example of this would be to simply type define:discombobulation to instantly be presented with its definition. I also use the define: trick very often to ensure I have the proper spelling for a word. If the word after define: is misspelled, Google.com will alert me that I most likely meant something else and provide me with the correct spelling. Quite convenient to say the least.
The last feature of Google Chrome’s searching capabilities is one that may not be needed very often, but is handy when the time is appropriate. From Chrome’s Address Bar, you can actually search for a term or string of terms within a single specific website. Let’s say I want to learn more about Peter the Great but am only interested in articles that exist within the Wikipedia.org website. I can easily do this by typing the following into either Chrome’s Address Bar or the search box at Google.com – ‘Peter the Great site:wikipedia.org’. Once I submit this search request, each and every result I am given is a page located within Wikipedia.org’s website. I really hope you give this trick a try, it is a nice convenience to have when you really want to narrow down your search results.