Smart Web Search Strategies – Pierce College Library
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Smart Web Search Strategies – Pierce College Library

Welcome to the Pierce College Library!
In this video you will learn strategies to narrow internet searches in order to find
focused, quality information. Google is a search engine tool that many people
use to search the internet. You may have heard of other search engines,
such as Bing or Yahoo that are also tools that people use to search the internet.
In this video we will focus on search strategies in Google, but you can often use these strategies
in other search engines as well. Let’s say you are writing a college research
paper on medical marijuana. A simple search would be to type MEDICAL MARIJUANA
into the Google search box and click on the search button to perform the search.
This search gives us about 62 million results or 62 million webpages.
The results are very mixed. For example, some webpages describe what medical
marijuana is. Some commercial websites let you know where
you can purchase medical marijuana. Some organizational websites cover the controversy
surrounding medical marijuana. Other organizational websites advocate for
a specific position on the issue. But MEDICAL MARIJUANA is a pretty broad search.
For research papers it is often it is helpful to narrow or focus your topic.
Let’s say that you are interested in medical marijuana in California since it was one of
the early states to pass medical marijuana legislation.
So in the Google search box, you type MEDICAL MARIJUANA CALIFORNIA
Notice that there are fewer results, about 2 million. That is still a lot of webpages,
but the point is that the more key words or search words you put in the search box, the
more focused your results will be. There are several websites to choose from.
Notice that one of the websites might be particularly good for research purposes. It is a government
website (you can tell because .GOV is in the web address).
When you click on the link and open the website, it gives detailed and helpful information
about medical marijuana laws, statistics, and costs.
The information is coming directly from the state government website, so it is authoritative.
Such government websites tend to keep information up-to-date and usually contain little bias;
rather they are meant to be informative. Wow! Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t
have to hunt through all the websites in the results list to find other government websites
that might provide you with more quality information for your research paper?
Well, you can, using a search strategy called SITE.
Typing the phrase SITE:GOV in the Google search box will limit your results to only government
websites, that is, websites with a .GOV in the web address. These websites may come from
all levels of government such as city, county, state and national jurisdictions.
Similarly you can use SITE:ORG to limit your results to organizational websites, that is,
websites with .ORG in the web address. And, as you can imagine, you can use SITE:EDU to
see only educational websites in your search results. Or SITE:COM to see only commercial
sites. This SITE: search strategy give you a lot
more power when you search and allows you to limit your results to the type of website
that you want. Let’s try it out. In the Google search box
type: MEDICAL MARIJUANA CALIFORNIA SITE:GOV to see only government websites.
Remember the phrase is SITE:GOV with NO SPACE before GOV
Since you have further narrowed your search, you will see fewer results. In addition, now
all the websites you see are government websites and have .gov somewhere in the web address.
Now in just the first page of results, you have expertly narrowed your search results
to find quality information about medical marijuana from the Medical Board of California,
a fact sheet from the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, and a scientific
article through the National Library of Medicine. So…to search more effectively, narrow your
results by adding more search words and focus your results by using the SITE: strategy.
Remember, for the SITE: GOV strategy, there is no space before the GOV
So, next time you use the internet, perhaps try these smart search strategies to help
save you time and get you great results. If you have questions about how to perform
more effective internet searches and would like further tips and strategies, just contact
a librarian in person, by phone, online chat or email. They are always happy to assist

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