Sunday, July 4, 2010

Web search tactic: use quotes to specify phrases

When we use a search engine like Google, one of the simplest and most powerful tactics is to put quotation marks around phrases to specify exactly what we want.

Let’s look at a two-word example. Suppose we had been talking with our aunt Wanda from Warsaw about furniture. If we look up “Polish furniture” on Google, we will get what we want. But, if we forgot the quotation marks, we might as well have been looking up furniture polish, a very different (and much broader) concept.

Without the quotation marks we will get 6,680,000 results. With them there are 430,000 for “furniture polish”, but only 63,400 for “Polish furniture.” Putting the terms in order as a quoted phrase narrowed the search and gave us about a hundred times fewer results.

The photo shows the famous inventor Jan Szczepanik with some Polish furniture.

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