Advanced searching allows you to limit results and helps you break through ranking algorithms to find those useful documents that are multiple levels deep. I’ll post a new tip every Wednesday for the next six weeks, so check back!
Today’s tip: Using the “+” and the “-“
I had been taught to use the (+) and (–) in place of and (+) and not (–) when using search engines such as Google and Yahoo!. Considering the way search engines rank, there is a better way to use the (+).
Use the + sign to include a stop word in your search. For example, to find The Atlantic magazine, type: +the atlantic -ocean. (Continue to use the – sign in front of words to leave them out of your results.)
Stop words are common words such as: a, an, by, for, how, of, on, the, what, when, where, will
Search engines typically ignore stop words, so to make sure the stop word is searched, put the + sign in front of it. An alternative is to include the stop words in a phrase by placing quotations around it: “the atlantic” -ocean (this search will give you almost the exact same results as the example above).
The tips in this weekly update are from a January 2006 presentation for SLA. Beyond the Basics of Internet Search Engines: Choosing and Using the Best Features of the Major Engines, Rita Vine, MLS, firstname.lastname@example.org.