I do a lot of searching for tattoo related new stories and have learned a few tricks to help streamline my search process, resulting in a much more efficient use of my time.
Since I am usually searching for current new stories I do a majority of my searching on Google News rather than a standard Google search. My first few tips will focus on returning as many results as possible, then we will move onto ways to refine those results.
Use singular search terms unless you have a specific reason not to
On Google News, searching for ‘tattoo’ returns 110,000 results, yet searching for ‘tattooS‘ cuts that number down to 56,300. Searching for the singular term of a word will also return the plural forms, but the opposite is not true.
Use Google’s “Include Similar Words” operator
Adding a tilde (~) before your search term will instruct Google include terms that are similar to the search term. I’m not aware of a way to view the words that Google finds to be similar, but I do know that searching for ‘~tattoos’ gives almost 90,000 more results than ‘tattoos’.
Use the OR operator
The default operator for individual search terms in Google is AND. This means ALL words in your search query must be found on the page in order for a match to be found. If you would rather search for one term or another, you need to separate your terms with the word OR, in caps. This is useful for finding commonly misspelled versions of a word. Tattoo is often incorrectly spelled as tatoo.
A search for ‘tattoo tatoo’ will result in only pages that contain both the correct and incorrectly spelled word, which is not many. But ‘tattoo OR tatoo’ will find pages that use either one of or both spelling variations.
Keep it Simple
Sometimes simple just works best. My standard search starts out with simply, ‘~tattoo’. One word, and the Include Similar Words operator. This search will give you a large number of results which we can now begin to narrow down.
Choose an Appropriate Date Range
When searching Google News I feel the most important parameter is the date. Articles posted last year are of no use for someone attempting to capture only the latest news stories. Once you completed your search, look along the left side of the page and you will see “Any Time” highlighted. Click any one of the time frames below it to narrow your search. I typically choose “Past week”. On occasion I will drop this down to “Past 24 hours” if I have already conducted an exhaustive search on the previous day.
Sort Your Results
By default your search results will be “Sorted by relevance”. You have the option to sort by date to ensure that the most result results are always at the top of the page. I find this option helps me avoid running into the same articles over and over again when I am searching on a daily basis.
Eliminate Irrelevant Results
I run a tattoo blog, not a celebrity gossip blog, so I really couldn’t care less that Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga just got some new ink. There are some days that my search results are absolutely flooded with celebrity news, today was one of those days. Luckily for us, Google provides a way to exclude terms from your search by preceding them with a dash (-).
Excluding just three terms from todays search, ‘~tattoos -bieber -gaga -chad’, gave me about 30,000 fewer results because Bieber, Gaga and Chad Ochocinco all made recent trips to the tattoo shop. You may continue excluding terms until your search results are free of topics that are of no interest to you.
The final method for fine tuning your search results is using search phrases. Normally, Google searches for each term in your query individually. By wrapping your search terms in quotes, the exact phrase must be found in order to return a match. Only use this option if you are searching for something very specific. If you actually want to find celebrities that were recently inked, you can try searching for “got a new tattoo”.
You may also include an asterisk as a wildcard to replace part of your phrase. Using the above example, you can try “got * tattoo” to expand your results. The * will match any number of words, making it a much more flexible search, likely to give significantly more results. It will now match the following: got a tattoo, got a new tattoo, got an ugly tattoo, got another tattoo, etc…
That’s about it. There is nothing groundbreaking here, but these simple tips can save you a lot of time and frustration while searching the web.