The Gathering Process Online Part III - Effective Use of Search Engines

4/03/2016 11:36:00 AM

Click to Read Part II

© Summer Owens

Knowing how to use a search engine can be critical to finding information that may be on the internet but that is not listed on major websites or directories. There are many parameters that can help you narrow down a google (or other engine) search so that you don't have thousands of results to try and dig through. I'm going to share with you the ones that I use most frequently.

Use + and - to narrow your results. Adding a plus sign before a word, with no space between, will restrict the search to all pages that have that exact word and exact spelling. Likewise adding a minus sign before a word, with no space between, will restrict the search engine to showing only pages that do not contain that particular word or spelling of it. So if you wanted to search for an ancestor named Elizabeth Taylor but wanted to omit any results about the actress, Elizabeth Taylor, you would enter your search term like so: Elizabeth Taylor -actress or if you only wanted to find out about the actress you would enter your search terms like so: Elizabeth Taylor +actress

Use quotations to narrow your results. Say you search for the words, Elizabeth Taylor, The search will likely bring up pages about various Elizabeth Taylor’s but it will also include any pages that have either the word Elizabeth or Taylor in them. Putting a phrase in quotation marks causes the search engine to treat the terms inside the quotes as one word. Meaning that if you search for “Elizabeth Taylor” it must bring up only pages that have the words Elizabeth and Taylor right next to each other, in that order.

Use the ~ sign to narrow your results. Using the tilde symbol in front of a word, without a space, will cause the search engine to give results that contain both the specific word as well as synonyms for that word. For example searching for “Elizabeth Taylor” ~headstone would bring up pages with the exact phrase Elizabeth Taylor and terms such as grave, tombstone, marker, etc. in addition to headstone.

Use the term “allinanchor:” to narrow your results. When this term is used directly in front of a word or term the search will find all websites that define themselves as your specific keywords. For example, the search allinanchor: “Irish Immigration” would return results containing all the websites that define themselves as being about Irish Immigration.

These are just a few beginning ways to make your internet searches more effective. Learn to use these well and in combination with each other and you’ll soon be able to feel that if information you seek is published somewhere on the internet, you’ll find it!