Tuesday, December 06, 2005

You to, Can Learn To Google

Today I did my weekly check on my stats for this blog, and as usual, I left the keyword analysis for last. The things the idiots search for are sure to brighten up my day.

I was disappointed today, however, due to the fact that 99.9% of the searches people used to land here where, well, normal.

A few searches for the Mythbusters Bottle Jet Pack, a few people who have obviously seen the offer on the same graphics pad I have, and are looking for reviews. You know, the normal stuff the denizens of the interweb look for.

However, that 0.01% cracked me up.

The search, in its entirety was:

“My Urine smells different – am I pregnant?”

Ok, let me tackle the question first.

Probably not. There are plenty of reasons why your pee-pee will change it’s smell, especially if you’ve been eating different foods (For example, asparagus makes your piss absolutely STINK!).

However, it’s slowly becoming clear to me that the average person simply doesn’t know how to Google anything, or even how a search engine works.

So I’ve written the following: The beginners Guide to Google and Searching the web.

Ok, Google searches web pages. Simple enough, right? However, it only finds things that are in the actual content of the page.

So, Ms. Smelly Pee Pee, your search would be useless unless those exact words are on a page somewhere. Or it will bring up a page with every single on of those words in. IE Every page that has ‘urine’ or ‘pregnancy’.

You’re searching content, not asking a question.

Ok, now for the technical basics:

  1. Ms Smell Pee Pee’s search is useless. It will find every page that has one or all of her search terms in it. Including the words like ‘I’ and ‘am’.

  2. Putting a plus symbol in front of a word tells Google that that particular word MUST be in the search results. For example “+pregnancy”. This is useful because it allows you to narrow your search. Basically you’re saying “Find pages with this word or words in it, if any of the others show up, all the better, but they’re not necessary.

  3. A minus symbol in front of a word means ‘find all pages with my search terms, but not the ones that contain this word’. This is useful if you keep getting red herrings. It helps you narrow down your search further. For example, ‘urine’ on the internet is likely to bring up all sorts of weird pee pee fetish sites, so you could add “-fetish –porn” to the end of the search, and all pages that mention fetish or porn won’t come up.

  4. Words in quotation marks mean to search for the entire phrase. For example, searching for (New sony plasma tv) will bring up every page with the word TV, Plasma, Sony and New on it. Searching “New sony plasma TV” will only find pages with that exact phrase.

  5. You can use Boolean search strings such as AND, OR

So let’s put this all together, and construct a search term for Ms. Smelly Pee Pee.

She wants to know if she’s pregnant. So we’ll add pregnancy. Her clue is that her wee wee smells, so we’ll look for that, but considering we’re looking for a medical page, a doctor is unlikely to use the word smell, he’s much more likely to use the word odor. Another thing to try is part of a question, because many self-help sites use the question and answer format. So we can try the following things:

Pregnancy +”Urine odor”

+”Am I pregnant?” +”Urine odor”

Get the picture?

Basically, when you search google, it’s not like you’re talking to a librarian. You’re using Boolean search strings to look for content. For example, if I was looking for online drawing lessons, I wouldn’t search:

‘I want drawing lessons I can do on the internet for free’ For example, the word ‘free’ brings up a few million pages on its own. I’d be more specific:

+”Drawing lessons” OR “Drawing Tutorials” +online +free art

This means that for a page to appear it absolutely has to have the terms ‘drawing lessons’ or ‘drawing tutorials’ in it. From those pages, it has to have the words ‘free’ and ‘online’ on it. ‘Art’ is a ‘maybe’ word. If it’s there bring it up, if it’s not, it doesn’t matter.

Learn to Google, people!

1 comment:

MC Etcher said...

Well said! Most people will never know this simple info - there are no Google infomercials.