We use search engines for practically everything. It isn’t just google anymore. Our email, our computer, phones, calendars…. If it can be indexed, there’s a search option.
The thing is, there are better and worse ways to search. There are variables that help you get the result you want at the top. There is art, science and some math genius that has resulted in these amazing little boxes that help our lives.
Knowing how to focus your words to get the results you’re looking for can save time and make it easier on your electronic devices.
Let me share a couple scenarios
Unique words are better. If you type in words that are in lots of documents you’ll come up with a ton of “false positives.”
Choose a set of words that are more likely to be in fewer articles.
Use variants of words. Sometimes the person wasn’t thinking quite the same way you are as you search. “Hard drive failure” vs. “I lost all my data” mean basically the same thing but pull up completely different results in the search engines just because of what people wrote about around those topics.
Why this is important
I’m sure you’ve seen the “1,842,000 results” in a google search, or something of the like. Doesn’t matter the quantity of results, you probably rarely scroll down much less look at the second page. A scientist doing research, however, wants the *whole* data set. They want their question to be as precise as possible so they get what they want and don’t miss anything.
Google is good. Very good. Part of what they’re so good at is making sure you get the right result first. They aren’t so good on the later results. If you are actually searching for answers rather than trying to find something specific, its important to understand these concepts and use multiple keywords to get better results.
You can’t be promised that the search engine is accommodating you’re way of thinking. They try, but its more mystery than science still. It’s better to be shrewd and know how to ask the question in such a way that you are more likely to get the answer you want.
Google made a few changes on a very old concept to become the biggest company in the world. I wonder what Charles Boole would think if he saw what had become of his designs.
If your goal is to get the “perfect” results, you want to have all sorts of variables that mention all the ways someone might refer to what you’re looking for as well as excluding all the ways someone might use a word in a different context than you want.
This is just the tip of the iceberg.