Improving Your Search Results


Ever wondered how some people could find information from the Internet without much hassle while you struggle even to get a decent result from your searches? Perhaps you just need a bit of guidance on how to make your search more effective.

The Problem

While the Internet is every growing, people are still stuck with the thought that you only have to type

to find all details about Bill Gates. Little do people realize that by doing so, the returned results would be more than just “Bill Gates” as you will also get any page that contains any the word “Bill” or “Gates”.

The thing about Search Engines is that “more results” isn’t always better. You must always aim for…

  1. Good quality results, results that are as close to what you searched for as possible.
  2. Quantity of good quality results. Do note that the quantity of results vary depending on what topic you’re looking for. Searching for “Paris Hilton” would definitely return more results than “Brian Chong”.

What is the Solution?

The solution is simple – you just need to know how to improve your search results.

Like the earlier example, searching with words AS IT IS isn’t helpful, it returns a whole lot of results and it’s not surprising if most of it are totally irrelevant to what you’re looking for. So unless you’re a person of absolute patience and have nothing else to do with your time – you’d better learn how to search well.

Instead of using a popular name where the results are obvious, let’s imagine that your friend “Harvey John” wrote an article on “Cruise”, he informed you that it was published over the Internet but some how it slipped his mind to tell you the URL for the article and he’s off to the Amazon jungle for a 2-month break.

alone would return results in a flood of results where these pages contain Harvey or John or both and that’s not good at all. Searching for would be even worse.

Why bother browsing through the results when applying just a few symbols could save you time by returning the results within a page or 2?

Using Quotes ( “ ” )

Now instead of using the words Harvey and John, try putting those words within quotes.

By using quotes, you’re telling the search engine to return the EXACT phrase. Now that narrows down the search results by a huge margin!

I tested Harvey John with and without the quotes on Google and guess what – without quotes it came back with nearly 33 million results but with quotes, the results were narrowed down to less than 250,000.

Ok, so now that you understand quotes we shall proceed with the 2 most important symbols for your adventures : the + and the -.

Using Plus ( + )

By appending a + sign in front of a word, you are telling the search engine that the results MUST include that particular word. So by applying the + sign as seen below, you’re narrow the results even further while making it even more accurate.

By entering the search exactly as the above, Google returned only 235 results!

Using Minus ( – )

Just like the + sign, the – sign can be appended in front of a word. The – sign on the other hand works the opposite, it tells the search engine to NOT to return any result that contains that particular word.

Now let’s try putting a – sign in front of the word tom, just remove any results that may include tom (or Tom Cruise). 😉

Guess what? By adding -tom on the search as shown above, Google returned only 62 results! 😀 Amazing isn’t it?


Isn’t it great to know that you can reduce the number of returned results while improving the accuracy of results with just a few commonly used symbols?

One can always opt for the Advance Search options under major search engines, knowing how to use such symbols actually saves you time from having to load an additional page and the hassle of having to key those words into various boxes. 🙂

Here’s another thing that you should know – there’s plenty of other ways to use a search engine to your advantage, it’ll be too lengthy to cover all of it so you’ll just have to search for it. 😉

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  1. This is really helpful to users especially students who wish to look for information.

  2. Author

    😉 Yup, a lot of people struggle to find the information they need.

  3. Never had idea that other search sites follow Google’s features. You should add the ‘define:word’ as well for Google. Good dictionary function. 😉

  4. Author

    Oh. actually those symbols are used even before Google came around. 😀

    Define:word? i normally go the easy way – just type the word you want, followed by the word definition. hehe. a lot of results will come out.

    This article was for searches in general, but anyway here’s the URL for Google Definition details if anyone needs them. 😉

  5. This is very helpful. I didn’t know the minus sign trick.Thanks!

  6. Author

    Hehe. I’m glad that you found it helpful! 😀

  7. Hey…
    Very helpful guide.. keep it up..

    p.s syhhh found ur website from =)

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