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Ever wondered about how to find that site you’re looking for? Ever wondered how your customers find you?

Search Engine Tips
If you have a general subject in mind (like “cars”), type the word or words in the Search box and click the Search button. Results are usually listed in order of relevancy based on keywords and other factors.

Advanced Search Features
If you know exactly what you want, you can get better results by entering very specific information into the Search box. Despite differences in each search engine’s tools, there are tools that many search engines have in common.

Searching for an Exact Phrase
To require that an entire phrase be found in a search, enter quotes (” “) around the terms. For example, “vintage cars” returns listings where the words “vintage” and “cars” appear together and in that order, either in the title, the URL of the Web site, the description, the keywords, or the document. If no sites are found that contain both terms, sites that contain either term will be displayed.

Searching For Required Words
You can type the plus sign (+) or the word AND before a word to require that it be found in all of the search results. For example, vintage +cars (include a space between the first word and the + symbol) or cars AND vintage returns all listings that contain “vintage” and “cars” but not necessarily together.

Searching For Excluded Words
Use the minus sign (-) before a word or the word NOT to require that it not be found in the search results. For example, vintage -cars (include a space between the first word and the – symbol) or vintage NOT cars lists sites containing “vintage” but not “cars.” Some engines like AND NOT (two words) or ANDNOT (one word) better than just NOT.

Searching For Multiple Words
Use the word OR to require that one or the other term be found in the search results. For example, vintage OR cars (include a space on each side of the OR) lists sites containing “vintage” or “cars.” You can combine AND, OR, AND NOT by using parentheses. For example, to find documents that contain the word vintage but not either the word cars or trucks type vintage NOT (cars OR trucks). You could also type this vintage -(cars OR trucks). Note: You cannot begin a search with a “-” term. You must put some other search term first.

Using Wildcards
You can use the asterisk (*) character to indicate a wildcard search. This is useful when you are trying to match a term that may or may not be plural or might use one of several verb tenses. For example chemi* will find results containing words that begin with ‘chemi’ (e.g. chemical, chemistry, chemist). You must have at least four non-wildcard characters in a word before you introduce a wildcard. This is not necessary for plurals because a search on cat will also return results containing the word cats, and a search on cats will return results containing the word cat.

Location, location, location
One other addition searchers forget to include is looking for a web site by its location. A search for vintage cars typically shows about 2 million results. Search engines have enormous databases due to the rampant frequency of newly added sites to their directories and because of this have changed the searching experience by offering local searches. Targeting your search weeds out the competition so that when looking for local businesses, only those pertinent to your search show up in the top pages. By doing this a search for “vintage” “cars” “Toronto” will result in the top relevant sites showing up with these keywords (about 25% less sites).

Now by habitually using these techniques, including the location, you waste less time by focusing your search on only those that you wish to visit. The drawback for non-optimized web sites is that even though they may have the offering you are looking for: unless they “play” the search engine “game”, no one will find them.

Is your web site optimized? Are you tracking how many hits your site gets?


frank beecham

Frank Beecham
Mystique Brand Communications