Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on July 3rd, 2009

How to Become a Search Jedi

So you want to become a ‘Master of Search’ and unlock all the secrets of the web with the power of your Jedi mind and fingers? It may not require carrying around a little green man, like the olden days. You could just a need quick crash course on how to stay privy to the new and magical tools that Master Google and Master Bing have brought to the Internet Counsel table. Here are some tips to get you started on your road to becoming a Master of Search.

Specialized Search Most moderately inept searchers are skilled in regular and image searches. These days, however, search engines offer the ability to search beyond images, with the option for video, shopping searches, maps and news-specific content. Bing and Yahoo also offer travel-search features. Yahoo has an Answers community where anyone can post a question and get responses from people who know the answer. Bing has a medical-search tool. Google offers book searches and a scholar search that delves into academic articles and journals.

Query Commands You don’t need Yoda’s walking stick to dazzle the arthritis out of your uncle’s golf swing. If you want to find web pages that include an exact phrase, add quotations to it and you will get pages that have only the words in the exact order you entered them in. You can also add a minus sign to subtract pages with certain words from your results. For example, you want to find the exact phrase: “Transformers Movie” but are tired of the endless banter on “-megan fox”.

Site Search Here is a tip that any Jedi Master will appreciate. If you are looking for something on specifically on your site, take the “http://” part out of your domain name and insert "site:" in its place:

search phrase here

You will only see search results from within that site.

These are only three tricks to becoming a ‘Jedi Master of Search’, but should take you to the next level of your training. Keeping up with the evolution of search and engine algorithms may seem like a snore for most, but it can make or break your website’s rankings overnight, if one is not careful.