When it comes to searching the vast database of information on the internet, you need to know a few tricks to get the best results – and one of those tricks is using a Boolean search.
Named after mathematician George Boole, a Boolean search is a way of referencing the logical relationship between search terms.
1. Understanding Boolean Logic
When you’re working with Boolean searches, you need to understand the logic behind them. You’ll be using one of three operators:
The “OR” operator is to search something like “bananas or apples.” The results would include “bananas,” “apples,” and both “bananas” and “apples.”
The “AND” operator shifts the search to include both “bananas and apples” but not their individual counterparts. In other words, you would only find pages that include both “bananas” and “apples”, but not pages that had only the individual words within them.
The “NOT” operator is a great way to sort through the rest. If you search for “bananas NOT apples,” you would receive results that include, of course, bananas but not apples.
2. Searching with Boolean Logic
Once you have a fast grasp on Boolean logic, you’re ready to employ it and search the net.
Different search engines produce different results, so you may want to sample a variety of search engines to see how they operate with Boolean logic before you commit. Some search engines require that you use the operators in capital letters, so you’d be searching for “bananas AND apples”, for example.
Most search engines also pack in help pages that illuminate your options in terms of searching, so don’t be shy about nosing around before you click.
3. Using Implied Boolean Operators
A lot of searching you’re used to probably includes implied Boolean operators. An example of this is a search for “bananas and apples” using the entering point of “bananas apples.” The “AND” operator is implied.
You can also exclude “apples” from the search equation by constructing it like this: “bananas –apples.”
There are many other ways to get the search results you’re looking for, of course, but the more you narrow things down, the better your odds at getting accurate results. Using Boolean operators may sound complicated, but they’re quite simple once you get the hang of it.
Practice using Boolean logic with your favourite search engine and check out the wide variety of results you can manage. You might be surprised at what you find!