Searching for phrases is one of the fastest ways to
narrow down results. You can specify a phrase on most search engines by placing
it in double quotes. Because they are a form of unique
identifier, phrases are very useful at filtering search results
to just pages that contain that exact, specific
string of characters.
The longer the phrase, the fewer and more relevant the
the phrase is so specific there are actually no pages that match. In the middle
is the perfect search query.
the very best phrases are full person names. While there may be many people
named Winston, or Spencer, or Churchill, there is only one savior of
liberal democracy named Winston Spencer Churchill. Therefore,
if you search
for that name as a phrase, you ensure that all pages
returned contain that exact name:
You can also add phrases to existing searches. For example, the following
returns pages that contain the word "biography" and the exact phrase
"mozart was born":
biography AND "mozart was born"
You can combine several
phrases with the and operator to make
kind of a meta-phrase and greatly
narrow the number of pages returned:
holmes" AND "221 B, Baker Street"
You can widen a search by
looking for several phrases at once, by combining several phrases with the or
operator in a separate term in brackets:
AND ("mozart was born" OR first learned" OR "when mozart was")
burton" AND ( "doctor livingstone, I presume" OR "dr. livingstone, I presume")
Song lyrics are great unique phrases, if you can get them
right. You can either search for a long phrase if you know the whole thing,
or several short phrases combined with AND:
many roads must a man walk down"
goes" AND "glimpse of stocking" AND "good authors too"
The best phrases are specific enough to get the pages you want, while filtering
out pages you don't want. At the same time, they should be common enough
be found. For example, the following phrase is too specific, because there isn't
any text on the Internet that contains that exact phrase:
"mozart was born at a very young age"
The power of phrase searching is also leveraged by another search technique,
the use of questions and answers