Refining a Search
It's easy to refine a query to get precisely the results you want. Here are some effective techniques to try:
Identify a phrase.
Before: home run records After: "home run" records
The before query is ambiguous. Is it looking for the home page of songs like "Run, Run, Run" or baseball statistics? Identifying "home run" as a phrase eliminates the ambiguity. This is the most powerful query refinement technique.
Add a discriminating word or a phrase.
Before: "home run" records After: "home run" records baseball
As before, the before query is ambiguous. Adding baseball makes the query less ambiguous. You'll get more total matches (because the query is broadened with an additional term), but the relevance ranking will be better.
Capitalize when appropriate.
Before: wired digital white house, baby bells, bill gates After: Wired, Digital, White House, Baby Bells, Bill Gates
These examples, when all lower case, have a variety of possible interpretations. For example, without capitalization, wired could refer to electrical cables and not Wired Magazine. baby bells could refer to the Bells' children on the "Young and the Restless." Capitalization reduces the ambiguity. It is always a good idea to capitalize proper names.
Use a require or reject operator (+,-).
Before: Barney After: Barney, +Smith -dinosaur
Barney alone is ambiguous. Is it looking for Smith Barney investment information or cartoon dinosaur pages? You can use the reject operator (the "minus" sign) to eliminate the cartoon dinosaur interpretation. Or, you can require that the word "Smith" be in the document. The after version above does both.
Use a field specifier.
Before: Sun workstation After: Sun workstation, site:sun.com, title:Ultra
If you are looking for a particular page that you know the site or title, use the site: or title: field specifier to search for that the word or phrase in the site or title of the page. See Special Searches for more information on field specifiers.