Net 1: Start Narrow

The biggest problem people have with search engines (perhaps) is that they're so good! You can type in a word and within a fraction of a second you'll have 20,000 pages to look at. Most of those pages will not be exactly what you're after, and you have to spend a load of time wading through the 19,993 that aren't quite right.

If you know what you're after, why not start by asking for it as precisely as you can?

Think of all the words that would always appear on the perfect page. Put those in the WITH ALL THE WORDS field.

Think of all the distracting pages that might also turn up because one or more of your search terms has multiple meanings. What words can you think of that might help you eliminate those pages? Put those in the WITHOUT field.

If there's a term with synonyms, either of which might appear on the page you're after, put them in the WITH ANY OF THE WORDS field.

Try each of the searches now, and record how many sites you find.

As you do each search, take note of what kinds of things turn up. Notice that the more specific the terms you include and exclude, the more focused your search.

# Matches

Imagine that you're interested in the legendary lost continent of Atlantis. There have been several movies with Atlantis in the title, but you're not interested in them. You are also not interested in the space shuttle Atlantis. Try this search...

WITH ALL: Atlantis continent
WITHOUT: shuttle film movie

Write the number of hits you get below.

Here's how to search for it badly:

WITH ALL: Atlantis


Here's another search to try:

WITH ALL: Waterbury
WITH ANY: Vermont VT
: Connecticut CT

Here's how to search for Waterbury, VT. badly:

WITH: Waterbury

Continue to NET #2
Written by Bernie Dodge. Last updated March 11, 2002

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