Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Syntax Secrets

The beauty of Google is that the brand is instantly and universally recognised. There are no usability limitations meaning all demographics can easily interact with the simple interface, whether it be via the Google home page or a partner site powered by Google search.

However, there are a number of bonus features that exist to help
"power users" narrow down searches and dig deeper into Google's exhaustive search index.

Placing speech marks around a search phrase tells Google that you only want to to display results with that phrase written exactly and no words between. This can be used when one of the search terms is generic and could mislead the results.

Adding a term with a minus sign before it to a search phrase indicates that you do not want that word to show up in your search results. This can be used when you are searching phrases with double meanings, or to narrow down a search with a high volume of anticipated results.

For example, if you are looking for a clubbing holiday in Majorca but know that you do not want to stay in Magaluf. you can place a add "-magaluf" to your query to filter these results out of your search.

Google recently added the ability to search within one site to their standard search function for particular sites. However, this functionality has existed for sometime with via the site: function. For example,if you are looking for a DVD of the film Scarface but only want to buy from Amazon, it may be simpler to use the Google search site:www.amazon.co.uk Scarface DVD than use the navigation within Amazon's site.

Perhaps one of the more unknown functions is the ability to search results by the date that the web page was created. By adding a particular element to the end of the Google search results URL users can filter results to display the most recent news on a particular event. For example, I may want to search on the most recent Arsenal transfer news. By adding the code "as_qdr=d7" to the end of my search query, I can filter the results to content that has been created in the past seven days.

It is well known how the content freshness is a part of the algorithm Google uses to rank natural search results. Therefore, webmasters and SEO's can use this code to check that fresh content has been identified correctly within the Google index.

The Google Index continues to expand. The Googlebot is now able to autofill search units and get to the wealth of content that has always been hidden in databases and content management systems. I would anticipate that the larger the index becomes the more power users will be created, taking advantage of advanced search operators to refine their results appropriately.


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