Search Engine Tips and Why There’s No Excuse For Not Knowing Anything Today

Updated: September 24, 2020

Back in 2011, I was at the Lyceum-Northwestern University in Dagupan City, Pangasinan. I got invited by their College of Information and Computing Studies to present a talk.

I was hesitant at first to accept the speaking engagement. That’s because the topic they wanted me to discuss was about search engines. Admittedly, I am not a search engine marketing expert.

However, after learning that the audience would be college students, and not marketing professionals; and they just wanted to about optimizing the use of search engines for their academics, I excitedly agreed and accepted their invitation.

The event was called “A Slice of the Web Today” and it is part of the 2011 Conference on I.T. Concepts of the University.

Below now is a summary of the search engine tips and tricks which I shared that day to the audience. I hope that you would find them as useful as I do when using the internet for research nowadays.

Search Engine Facts:

  • It is NOT case sensitive
    • This means you’ll get the same result for the query [Where is Dagupan] and [where is dagupan]
  • Every word & sequence matters
    • A search for [Potter], [Harry Potter] and [Potter Harry] would yield to different results. Typically, search results would show pages which have the exact sequence of words
  • Punctuation is often ignored
    • Which means a search for [KFC Delivery #] vs [KFC Delivery] would show the same results. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as searching for well known terms with punctuations like the programming language [C++] among others.

Tips for Better Searching:

  • Keep it Simple
  • Search for how it will be written.
    • For example, instead of asking search engines [What does SWOT analysis mean?], try [SWOT analysis is], because that is probably what the right page will say.
  • Use as few words as possible.
    • You’ll see that a search for [weather Manila] will give better results than [what is the weather in Metro Manila].
    • In general, it is recommended that you start your search with one or two words first, and then refine the results later by adding more words. This is a good way to ensure that you’re not missing other important pages that could help you with your research
  • Choose words the best describe what you’re looking for.
    • Do you want a new message tone for your mobile phone? Then don’t just search for [message tones], but also try more descriptive and accurate terms such as [ringtones], [SMS tones] or [SMS alerts].

Search Engine Tips and Tricks:

  • Use “double quotes” if you want exact matches for a word sequence
    • Ex., “We could have had it all”; works best for song lyrics, famous quotes, well-known speeches, popular poems and others
  • Use [site:] to search a term within a website
    • Ex., [Ondoy]; this will search for all Ondoy videos inside YouTube
  • Exclude topics by using the hyphen symbol [–]
    • Ex., [jaguar –cars]; this will omit most if not all pages about the Jaguar automobile brand
  • Use [OR] to get results for a combination of keywords
  • Use the asterisk symbol [*] as a wildcard
    • Ex., [Senator * speech on RH Bill]; if you want to know the list of senators who gave speeches about the RH Bill
  • Use the tilde symbol [~] to get synonyms.
    • Ex., [algebra ~tips]; this will give you results for algebra tips, algebra guide, algebra help and many others

Beyond Search:

These functions current work specifically in Google and Yahoo! Try typing the terms inside the brackets and see what you’ll get

  • Calculator: [23 * 24]
  • Unit Converter: [2 meters to feet]
  • Forex: [1 USD to PHP]
  • World Time: [London time]
  • Dictionary: [define: bangus]

Honestly, these search engine tips and tricks are just the most basic and there are a lot more out there which you could find useful. All you have to do is search for it.

As you already know, there is really a vast wealth of information out there on the world wide web. Whatever you want and need to learn, there is probably a website out there that could help you.

And that is why I say, in this age of information, there is no excuse for not knowing anything today.

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  1. @rors
    Yes, it is “case insensitive” – which I think is a bit harder to understand – so thanks, I edited the entry as suggested. 😀

  2. Kuya Fitz, thanks for accepting the invitation of my alma mater 😀 To be honest, I learned a lot from this talk despite the fact that I do search often 😛 I think the students were enlightened na rin 😀

  3. Wow. those tips gave me new ideas about how to SEO my blog. But what I dont understand is this

    # Exclude topics by using the hyphen symbol [–]
    * Ex., [jaguar –cars]; this will omit most if not all pages about the Jaguar automobile brand

    Can you further explain this to me?

  4. Hi Jade, when you simply search for the term [jaguar], you will get a mixed number of results for the car and the animal (you will also get results for the Macintosh OS)

    If you’re researching about the animal, then you probably don’t want to see results about the car (or the Mac OS). So adding a hyphen will remove most of the pages about that term.

    So if you type [jaguar -cars -macintosh] then you’ll get results mostly only about the animal.

    In human language, that translates to “give me webpages about jaguar, but don’t include those about cars and about the macintosh”.

    If you want another exercise, try [mullet], which is a fish but more popularly, a hairstyle. See how different the search for [mullet -fish] and [mullet -hair] will be. 😀

  5. […] I went to Dagupan City last September to give a talk on Search Engine Tips – I was able to visit this fairly new coffee shop called GT Dolce Cafe […]

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