Google site search (48)

October 20, 2008

Let’s face it, websites can be big. Really big. And sometimes even the best planned websites make it hard to find what we want.

If you use Google, and I know you do, there’s a simple way to take control and search a site for the information you want.

It’s called Google Site Search

It’s most basic use is to search a site. Let’s say you want to know which library in our system has Spanish language materials. You could look through each branch page until you find the answer. Or you could search in the catalog to see what comes up. Or, you could do a Site Search in Google.

That search would look like this:

Take a look at the results and you’ll see how helpful site search is. One quick search tells me which branches have a Spanish language collection (Thompson Lane and Southeast). It also reveals that there are Spanish language books available in the Tumblebooks database!
How does it work?
Type your search terms in the Google search box, then type site: and the web address you want to search in. We searched for: spanish collection site:library.nashville.org
But wait, there’s more…
Site search can help with narrowing your results list. Why wade through tons of useless sites when you can better target the kind of information you’re looking for? Let’s take a look at an example.
Say you’re looking for information vaccinations. You could do a basic Google search and you’d probably find some good websites, but you’d probably have to wade through a bunch of not-so-great sites too. Sites that end in .gov or .edu might give you more accurate medical information. So why not narrow your search from the start?
Let’s search for information on vaccinations and ask for results ONLY from government information sites. That search would look like this:
This search will exclude .com, .edu, .org, and any other site that doesn’t end in .gov. This can be useful when doing research and you know what kind of information you’re looking for. But, beware that you may be excluding useful information.
If you need help remembering this and other search tips for Google, you can print out this cheat sheet (pdf), shown at left, and stash it by your computer.

And if you have any search tips, please share them in the comments!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Do a search in Google for Disaster Preparedness.

2. Do a search in Google for Disaster Preparedness and limit to sites that end in .org.

3. Compare.

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7 Responses to “Google site search (48)”

  1. Glenn Worden Says:

    A great collection of Google tips. Google just seems more powerful and amazing every time I use it. I’ve printed the cheat sheet to use, too.

  2. Jim Says:

    The cheat sheet will be handy for some of our regular computer users. Particularly genealogy researchers, I think.

  3. Beth B Says:

    So why didn’t the site search return Edmondson Pike for its Spanish collectin?

  4. npljenny Says:

    That’s a good question, Beth. The problem you ran into has to do with how the site was coded. We’re recoding the site so that search engines can read it better. Kyle recoded the Hermitage page recently, but the Edmondson Pike page hasn’t been recoded yet, so it didn’t come up in a search like it should have. We’ll fix it in the next few days – and we’ll keep working on fixing the coding on the rest of the site too.

  5. Cook Says:

    Awesome catch, Beth!

    Thanks so much for locating this problem. We’ve been running some search engine optimization experiments. This was the best example I’ve seen that we’re on the right track. We will update the Edmondson Pike web site this morning and the search engines should pick up on it soon.

  6. karen hyman Says:

    This was great. I am not computer savvy, and this was all new info for me. Thanks!


  7. Thank you for this super article. Will now more stop by. Greetings from Cologne


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