Want to Become a Search Ninja? Here's a Refresher

Danny Sullivan on Search Marketing

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Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak found Microsoft's new search engine Bing to be "astounding" after seeing a demo. I found it astounding that someone as tech-savvy as Woz didn't realize much of what Bing does isn't new to Microsoft -- or even other search engines, for that matter.

It's a reminder that many people could use a refresher on search tips. So this month, I take off my search-marketer hat and put on my search-professor one.

Danny Sullivan
Photo: Jason Meyer
Danny Sullivan has been covering the search-marketing industry for more than a decade and is editor in chief of SearchEngineLand.com.
DIRECT ANSWERS. Want sports scores? The local weather? A stock quote? The major search engines have long offered "direct answers" or "shortcuts" that answer these and other questions directly within the search results. Google's just freshened up its instructions about these in an "Explore Google Search" page. Interesting how that came out right after everyone seemed to rave about Bing's magic tools!

SPECIALIZED SEARCHES. Beyond images, the major search engines all offer the ability to search for video, run shopping searches, tap into maps and search only news content. Bing and Yahoo both offer travel-search features. Yahoo has a Yahoo Answers community where anyone can put out a question and get responses back from people who know the answer. Bing has a medical-search service. Google offers book search, a "scholar" search using academic articles and more.

The key to finding these services is typically to look at the top of the search engine's home page or search-results page. Also click the "more" link to get to, yes, more options.

QUERY COMMANDS. Time to dazzle your friends with handy commands you can enter into all the major engines. Want to find pages that have an exact phrase? Add quotes -- such as "steve jobs" -- and you'll get pages that have only those words in that exact order vs. pages that have those words but not necessarily as part of a phrase.

Getting material that doesn't match the topic you're looking for? Use a minus sign to "subtract" pages that have certain words from your results. A search for "cars –movies" means to bring back all pages with the word "cars" on them but not any pages that also say the word "movies." You can subtract as many words as you'd like.

SITE SEARCH. Here's a final tip publishers will especially like. It's the site command. Take the "http://" part off your domain name and insert site: in its place -- such as "site:www.mysite.com" -- and you'll only see results from within that site.

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