Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Search Engines Bring Up Differing Results

Having Site Meter hooked up to your blog can be quite interesting. Today I had a visitor come through Yahoo's Search Engine looking for - kelly letterpress for sale - My blog was not what the searcher was looking for. Nowhere close...

However number 6 on the list of his search was a link to my post - Baby Parts For Sale - in which I quoted "Kelly" a pseudonym of a person who harvested baby parts for researchers. My "About Me" section on my blog mentions that I am a letterpress printer. By Google Search I was not listed in the top 100.

How could this person have improved his search query? Perhaps by adding quote marks around the model of the Kelly press he is searching for. With quote marks surrounding a statement the search engines look for that exact statement and cull out some of the excess. But the search query was really wrong to start with.

I know it can be frustrating to search for something specific and come up with everything except what is really being searched for. (see previous post)

Looking for someone selling a used machine it might have been better to start with - "used printing equipment" - and then added - Kelly (model name) - If looking to purchase something on the internet it bodes the searcher well to check the side adverts on the search page. They are designed to aid searchers as well as pull in some coins for the search engine company that is providing you a free service.

The quote marks really help if you want to find the rest of a quotation or perhaps the source of some obscure statement. Sometimes it helps to use the advance search features both Yahoo and Google offer. The + and - marks can help add or subtract keywords you want or don't want.

Ice Cream - in Google brings up 28,600,000 hits. Modifying it to - Ice Cream Raspberry = 2,420,000 hits. Then "ice cream" -vanilla +raspberry = 522,000 / - Still quite a bit. Add the word recipes and then you bring it down a bunch more. Only 252,000 hits. Much easier to peruse. The advanced search used properly will drop that number dramatically.

I like to keep a folder in my favorites that is titled 'searchers'. In it I have links to Yahoo, Google,, a Bible search, a dictionary & thesaurus, (Urban Legends) and a couple other resources. I've found that results from Yahoo and Google can vary. Doesn't hurt to use both if you are really trying to research a subject.

I've found it best to not get frustrated while searching. Instead consider yourself to be smarter than the computers you are accessing. You know what you are looking for. Use the right words and you will find it!