Using Search Engines and Advanced Searches

There is nothing more frustrating than wasting time searching through an engine’s results to find that piece of information
you are looking for. As a researcher, I am constantly using search engines for needed information. It was much easier
when I came ‘online’ in the late 90s, but each year has brought an ever increasing amount of information. This barrage of information is wonderful, but it also makes the task of sorting so much more difficult.

Still, there are ways to narrow your search and save your sanity in the process. Every search engine is geared just a little different in its search criteria. And with Google being the number one search engine used, this will be the one I will be referencing. If you do prefer another Engine ‘SearchEngineWatch’ can help you to refine your searching method for that Engine.

The most important thing you can do is figure out exactly what information you are looking for. Not just a subject, but what
you want to know about that subject. Lets look for information on say – the ‘Archangel Michael’. Using a regular search of Google, this resulted in 1,830,000 hits! Don’t panic, there are ways to focus the search and narrow to a more manageable number.

The use of the minus symbol – , can help you start to narrow the search. This helps to eliminate pages that you aren’t interested in viewing.
Archangel Michael 1,830,000
Archangel Michael -saint 1,150,000

Carry this a step further by eliminating more keywords:
Archangel Michael -saint 1,150,000
Archangel Michael -saint -saints 947,000

You can also reverse this strategy by the use of a plus sign + . This will focus the search to pages which also include whatever word you added.
Archangel Michael +saint 525,000
Archangel Michael +saint +saints 267,000

The use of quotation marks ” ” will return results which contain the exact phrase within the quote.
Archangel Michael 1,830,000 (without quotes)
“Archangel Michael” 469,000

You can also combine the uses of the various symbols.
“Archangel Michael” -saint’ 339,000.
“Archangel Michael” -saint -saints 302,000.
“Archangel Michael” +saint’ 130,000.
“Archangel Michael” +saint +saints 56,100

So before you start searching be sure to give the subject a little thought. You need to figure out exactly what it is you are wanting from the search. Lets say in this case I want a physical description of the angel Michael.
“Archangel Michael” +description 96,800
“Archangel Michael” +description -saint 58,600

Now let’s change the criteria up just a little. Say we are wanting to research the subject of archangels in general. A search
of archangels comes up with 4,720,000 results. Since we are wanting something specifically on archangels, we can add ‘allinurl:’ in front of the word and it narrows it down to websites with archangels in their URL.
Archangels 4,720,000
allinurl: Archangel 65,500

The more you are able to define what you are looking for, the more the engine can help meet your needs. Another
important tool that Google offers is it’s ‘advanced search options’. It might take a few more minutes to input the data,
but it will save you tons of time in the long run. Some people prefer the advanced search, but I find it faster and easier
to use the shortcut methods we discussed above.

So, the next time you do a search be sure to use the Engine to its fullest capability. Allow it to do the work for you, instead
of wasting valuable time going from page to page. Search engines are invaluable tools, and like all tools we must learn
to use them effectively.

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