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Avoiding Irrelevant Results on Google Search
Google is a great way to search for data online – the company has basically made a multi-billion dollar business out of search.
However it can be difficult to find the results that you’re looking for, thanks to the way in which Google indexes and classifies websites.
As such, you will need to understand a bit about how Google search works so that you can get the best out of it.
We’ve collected a list of tips and tricks to get the best and most relevant search results from Google – read on for information on how to use multiple search terms and making the most out of operators.
(Note: if you are receiving completely irrelevant search results, it is possible that your computer has been attacked. See Help! My Google Search Doesn't Work for more information on this.)
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In order to get the most pertinent and relevant search results, you need to be clear about what you’re searching for.
If you’re looking for a Sony widescreen plasma TV, then use that search term. However if you’re looking for a Sony widescreen LCD TV, don’t expect to find too many relevant results in the phrase “sony widescreen tv" – this will return results for plasma, LCD and potentially even old fashioned CRT TVs.
Google indexes web pages based on keywords, as well as the number of other sites linking to those pages. The vast majority of websites use keywords in the page content as well as in the page header so that Google can index these pages. By making the keywords relevant to the page contents, the best results are then displayed by Google. To get the best search results, you should have a clear idea of the information you’re looking for, then use a search term based on what such a site might consider as relevant.
By understanding this, you can improve the contents of your SERP (search engine results page).
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Be Specific with Operators
Irrelevant results on Google search can be overcome by understanding how a search query is built up.
If you type ‘butterfly game’ into Google search, the top results with the most authority (based on page rank) will show on the first SERP. However you might find that only a few of these contain the phrase ‘butterfly game’ – both words might be visible, but not the phrase.
To return results featuring this phrase, you need to explicitly instruct Google - this can be done by searching for “butterfly game", including the quotes. Using the double quotes tells Google search that you’re looking for an exact phrase.
If you’re searching for information and you know it can be found on a specific website, you can use a search term that includes the website URL. This is particularly useful if the website in question doesn’t have its own search feature.
To do this, enter the website URL into Google search, followed by a colon, then your search term – for instance:
www.brighthub.com: christian cawley
The SERP will then return pages from Brighthub where my name appears - the majority will be articles that I have written.
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Finally, you can use some of the advanced functions Google search provides.
Following a standard search, you will notice there are ways to narrow down the search options. These include the Advanced search link underneath the search bar as well as the More search tools link on the left-side menu. Using More search tools can narrow down your search to a time period – meanwhile with Advanced search Google offers features to help bypass irrelevant results.
Advanced options in Google search lets you search for words, phrases, combinations of separate words, restrict the results by language and even search for specific file types such as Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word that might be found on content-rich websites.
For full details of Google search advance options, see Better Searching - Using Google Advanced Search.