04 Search Techniques And Strategies Exercises

Exercises

Start up

  1. Go to the Google home page.
  2. Sign in to iGoogle. (If you don't have a iGoogle account, then create one.)
  3. Change the preferences (the “preferences” button next to the search box) so that it returned 50 documents instead of 10.

Special search syntax

Don't forget about the quick-and-dirty search syntax page. You will also want to refer to the more complete GoogleGuide quick reference and Yahoo Cheat Sheet.

Suppose you are interested in steel futures. Let's see how these different syntaxes affect the results that you get.

“Steel futures” example

  1. Search for [steel futures] at Google.
    • What documents does this return?
    • How many documents does this query return? Write this number down.
    • Scan down the list of documents. Note the titles of the documents. Do these all seem to be about steel futures?
  2. Search for ["steel futures"] at Google.
    • What documents does this return?
    • How many documents does this query return? Write this number down. Is this a useful change? What are the benefits and drawbacks of this change?
    • Again, scan down the list of documents. Note the titles of the documents. Do these all seem to be about steel futures?
  3. Make sure that both the word steel and the word futures are in title.
    • How many documents does this query return? Write this number down. Is this a useful change? What are the benefits and drawbacks of this change?
    • Scan down the list of documents. Note the titles of the documents. Do these all seem to be about steel futures?
  4. Make sure that the phrase steel futures is in the title.
    • How many documents does this query return? Write this number down. Is this a useful change? What are the benefits and drawbacks of this change?
    • Scan down the list of documents. Note the titles of the documents. Do these all seem to be about steel futures?
  5. Further refine the above query by ensuring that the document comes from a US-based company (this means that the document comes from a host that ends in .com).
  6. Now make sure that the document comes from something other than a US-based company.
  7. Make sure that, in addition to the document having the phrase steel futures in it, the URL has the word library in it.
  8. You are not interested in the results about the story related to the London Metal Exchange. Define a query that returns documents with the phrase steel futures but not these other stories.
  9. Notice that the documents sometimes refer to the London Metals Exchange. We don't want these stories either. Refine the query appropriately.

Reflect back on where you started above with just a simple query and where you ended up. What does this tell you about the usefulness of thinking about the contents of your query?

Other queries

  1. Suppose you figured out that you don't even know the meaning of futures. Enter a query that returns this definition.
  2. Looking through the results, you are interested in The Steel Index. You wonder who else might be interested enough in this site to link to it on their site. Define a query that finds these web pages.
  3. Suppose that you want to know about the Indian automobile industry. What would you do? Define your query and run it.
    • Here is what I did to return 2,520 documents (2,860 in 2008).
    • What is the strength of your query compared with mine? What are its weaknesses?
  4. The home page of the Ross School of Business BBA Program is www.bus.umich.edu/bba. Suppose you want to figure out what sites other than Ross sites link to this page. What is the query you would submit to Google?

Unique words & phrases

  1. Search for information about behavioral finance.
    1. Start with just those two words
    2. Join them within quotes
    3. Now look through the summaries of the first 10-30 documents that are returned. See what concepts, terms, words you might add to the query in order to make the documents that are returned "meatier". Go ahead and add them and look again at the results.
    4. Are there pages that are descriptions of books mixed in with your results? Get rid of them. There are probably a couple of ways that you might try.
    5. Get just the URLs that are housed at educational institutions.
  2. Find the lyrics to "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen. The only words that I am relatively certain of are "me gotta go". Other than that, good luck.
  3. Look for lyrics for a song of your own choosing.

Query specificity

  1. Think of some topic that you would like to know more about, and use Google, Yahoo, and Ask to find out more about it. Use Google Suggest, Yahoo Search Assist, and other related tools to explore the topic. Continually build the query's complexity until it returns the information you need with a relatively high precision.

Alternative naming

People

You want to find information on Thomas Alva Edison, but not Thomas Edison University or Thomas Edison College.

  1. Create a query in Google that returns a reasonable number of documents, that returns high quality documents. Be complete with the name forms that you try.
  2. Find information on Yahoo as well.
  3. Find encyclopedic entries.
  4. Build a comprehensive query that uses all of the name forms and returns all types of information but which maintains relatively high precision.

Places

Find information on Wrigley Field in Chicago. Define the query so that it returns a reasonable number of high quality documents.

Your project

Start looking for information on possible term project topics. Put your new-found skills to the test.

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