6 Ways To Reduce Irrelevant Results On Google Search

RelevantSearch04   6 Ways To Reduce Irrelevant Results On Google SearchThe internet is not your library and if you thought a ton of books was an overwhelming amount of information, think again.

The internet doesn’t contain just a few dozen or hundred relevant sources, no, it contains millions or billions or even more. To make things worse, there is no friendly and intelligent librarian to help you sort through all this information. It’s only you and a stupid search engine. You better act smart.

The challenge when searching online is to find only relevant information or – in other words – avoid irrelevant results on Google search. In this article I will show you 6 ways to reduce these false hits, so that you get better overall search results.


Surprisingly, the most effective way to reduce irrelevant results on Google search, may be not to use Google’s search engine in the first place. Read on to understand why.

1. Use Multiple Keywords

Use multiple keywords to receive more specific results on your first search engine results page (SERP).

2. Use Google Suggest

When you enter the first letters of a keyword into the search bar, Google will suggest popular keywords other people have used in their searches. Follow these suggestions and see whether they can help you gain better results.

RelevantSearch02   6 Ways To Reduce Irrelevant Results On Google Search

3. Use Operators to Properly Connect Keywords

RelevantSearch05   6 Ways To Reduce Irrelevant Results On Google SearchThis is a whole article of its own and fortunately it has already been written. Please have a look at my article on Google Operators for an overview. You can use each of these “commands” to improve your search results. Here I will mention only the three most helpful ones.

  • Use Negative Keywords

If you’re seeing irrelevant results, identify a keyword that has nothing to do with what you’re looking for and make it your “negative keyword”. Simply add it to your search query with a minus symbol in front of it, for example if you were looking for the band Gossip, you would search for [gossip -celebrity] (without the brackets).

  • Use Quotes

This is most commonly used to find an exact match. Since Google already uses the AND operator to connect single keywords per default, you won’t need quotes to find exact matches in most cases.

However, if you find that Google returns results with highlighted keywords that are spelled completely different from what you entered, try to put these single words into quotes and try again. This will prevent Google from “finding” more popular keywords that are only vaguely similar to your search term.

  • Search Within a Specific Website

If you don’t want to search the entire internet, but instead a specific URL, this operator is of great help. Type [site:URL “your search query”], for example [site:http://wikipedia.org “brandenburg gate”].

This MakeUseOf Poll compiled by Aibek features some more Best Google Search Tips & Operators.

4. Use Advanced Search

If you can’t be bothered with manually typing operators, you can use Google’s Advanced Search. It allows you to exclude words, search for results in a specific language or specific files, and search within a site or domain. As you enter the details, the search query is automatically composed for you.

RelevantSearch03   6 Ways To Reduce Irrelevant Results On Google Search

5. Use Google Chrome With Quick Scroll

One of the most annoying parts of following a search result is finding the relevant part within the page that opens. The Google Chrome extension Quick Scroll helps you tackle this issue as it provides a quick way to scroll to the parts in that website that are relevant to your query.

We have profiled Quick Scroll in the MakeUseOf Directory.

In Firefox you could simply use Quick Find, i.e. “find in text as you type” to quickly find the keywords again. However, if you’re into Google Chrome, you should check out these 8 Cool Google Chrome Extensions for Google Services, an article written by Tim earlier this month.

6. Ditch Google

googlelogo.thumbnail   6 Ways To Reduce Irrelevant Results On Google SearchGoogle is the most popular search engine and as such it has a lot of power. Google naturally has full control over its search algorithm. This in turn has a great impact on what results you will see, i.e. those you actually want to see or those that Google wants you to see.

There are two major variables that determine which results are recognized as relevant for your search: Link Authority (a.k.a. PageRank) and Keyword Relevance. Keyword relevance is straight forward. How well do the keywords you entered match the result, how often do they appear throughout the website, are they included in links pointing to that site, etc? Actually, this is all that you’re looking for when using a search engine.

Google, however, is biased towards link authority. The number of links pointing to a certain page determines its “authority” or PageRank. The more, the better. Unfortunately, this means that keywords only remotely related to a high PageRank site may cause this site to appear on your SERP, no matter how relevant it really is. The advantage is that you’ll see a lot of results from reputable high impact pages like Wikipedia or MakeUseOf. On the other hand you may miss out on many more relevant results from smaller pages. That’s not necessarily what you want.

RelevantSearch01   6 Ways To Reduce Irrelevant Results On Google SearchSo what can you do? You cannot change Google’s algorithm. However, if you keep seeing irrelevant search results, no matter how well you tune your search, there is one more thing you can do to get better results: don’t use Google’s search engine in the first place.

Yahoo’s search engine, for example, is less biased towards link authority and will thus provide you with much better search results. For a detailed analysis and examples, please see Troy Philis’ article on More Irrelevant Google Search Results.

What are your experiences with Google search and what has helped you to get the most relevant results?

Image credits: garytamin, bizior

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26 Comments -

Mark Moran

Your 6th way is the best one of all. The problem with Google is not so much lack of relevance as it is lack of credibility in the top results; also, it’s emphasis on recency often means that the most relevant and credible result is buried because it’s several years old. we’ve published a Web search tutorial titled “Ten Steps to Better Web Research,” (http://www.sweetsearch.com/TenTips) and three of them deal with “where to search.” Often it’s not even a search engine; and if you do use a search engine, you should check several, perhaps using a meta search tool like Zuula, and should always review several pages of search results, because the very best results often are not at the top. We’ve created http://www.SweetSearch.com, which is a branded custom search engine actually powered by Google, but only searching a whitelist of 30,000 approved sites, whose priority we can adjust. For research queries, I often find that the very best results are in the top 15 on SweetSearch but buried many pages deep on Google and Bing.

Mark Moran

Your 6th way is the best one of all. The problem with Google is not so much lack of relevance as it is lack of credibility in the top results; also, it’s emphasis on recency often means that the most relevant and credible result is buried because it’s several years old. we’ve published a Web search tutorial titled “Ten Steps to Better Web Research,” (http://www.sweetsearch.com/Ten and three of them deal with “where to search.” Often it’s not even a search engine; and if you do use a search engine, you should check several, perhaps using a meta search tool like Zuula, and should always review several pages of search results, because the very best results often are not at the top. We’ve created http://www.SweetSearch.com, which is a branded custom search engine actually powered by Google, but only searching a whitelist of 30,000 approved sites, whose priority we can adjust. For research queries, I often find that the very best results are in the top 15 on SweetSearch but buried many pages deep on Google and Bing.

rsteven

Thanks for the great advise. As an added tip, there’s a Google Chrome extension called ‘Filter Search’ where one can block sites from getting into the search results. I use it to remove annoying pay-per-view expert-exchange results.

Andreas Beer

You’ve missed the most obvious one: Use “Show options” and narrow it down. You can declare what kind of thing you are searching, in which time range the site should’ve been updated, unvisited pages only and some tweaking with shopping sites/text only sites.

Especially time range is very helpful, imho

Andreas Beer

You’ve missed the most obvious one: Use “Show options” and narrow it down. You can declare what kind of thing you are searching, in which time range the site should’ve been updated, unvisited pages only and some tweaking with shopping sites/text only sites.

Especially time range is very helpful, imho

Mark O’Neill

Google is actually doing a good job of cutting down on irrelevant searches now. More often than not, I am finding what I need pretty much right away. I am also always impressed with the features Google keeps adding to their search including the Twitter timeline where you can search the Twitter archive.

But you’re right, we shouldn’t always stick to Google for searches. I have also started using Yahoo to compare results and sometimes I see some noticable differences.

Mark O’Neill

Google is actually doing a good job of cutting down on irrelevant searches now. More often than not, I am finding what I need pretty much right away. I am also always impressed with the features Google keeps adding to their search including the Twitter timeline where you can search the Twitter archive.

But you’re right, we shouldn’t always stick to Google for searches. I have also started using Yahoo to compare results and sometimes I see some noticable differences.

loft

you seem bias towards yahoo. So in theory you could be pushing Yahoo just cause you like it more. Are these details based on actual fact? If so provide some proof before spamming yahoo as a great search engine. however, I am not a google search boy either.

Tina

I’m not biased towards Yahoo and frankly, I use Google a lot. I found this information in several articles online and did provide a link to the best reference (Troy’s article) in my post. He gave sufficient proof and I verified his examples.

Saul

One of the most annoying things for me with google is when I am searching for a particular term I end up with loads of ezine articles at the top of page one whose content has absolutely nothing (perhaps unfair, maybe they have one word out of 5 or 6 keywords) to do with my search.
That doen’t seem to happen with yahoo.

Saul

One of the most annoying things for me with google is when I am searching for a particular term I end up with loads of ezine articles at the top of page one whose content has absolutely nothing (perhaps unfair, maybe they have one word out of 5 or 6 keywords) to do with my search.
That doen’t seem to happen with yahoo.

Miami

Bing gives you those responses that are not what you expected, just like in their commercial.

Kidd

You know what would be great? The ability to REMOVE results from a search, and never have them appear in any search you do again (this would be custom for each particular user, and wouldn’t actually remove any sites from google’s index).

Imagine: you search for something and the first 3 hits are affiliate blogs or other annoying ***** (this often happens when doing more obscure searches). You click a button next to each of them and google prevents those sites from ever appearing in any search you do from that point on. It would be nice if you could also filter that type of blacklist, so you could “ban” the root url from your searches, or maybe just a particular page that’s a part of that site.

Maybe this is already a feature? I don’t know.

Kidd

You know what would be great? The ability to REMOVE results from a search, and never have them appear in any search you do again (this would be custom for each particular user, and wouldn’t actually remove any sites from google’s index).

Imagine: you search for something and the first 3 hits are affiliate blogs or other annoying ***** (this often happens when doing more obscure searches). You click a button next to each of them and google prevents those sites from ever appearing in any search you do from that point on. It would be nice if you could also filter that type of blacklist, so you could “ban” the root url from your searches, or maybe just a particular page that’s a part of that site.

Maybe this is already a feature? I don’t know.

Evan

Your post reminded me I usually use some sort of personal modifier like “i think” “it is” etc because if you’re doing a search which is typically google bombed by bots, using personal phrases like that weeds out a lot of bots.

Amjad

Expanding on the 6th way, both Internet Explorer and Firefox provide a dropdown list of search providers in the top right hand corner. You can customise this list with your choice of providers. Then enter keywords, click the dropdown list and search with any one of your choice.

Tina

Very good suggestion Amjad, thank you.
I didn’t think of that although I use it occasionally.

Pattaya Girls

why doesn’t google default to exact match then results would be far more accurate.

Maine librarian

Best idea is the use of a librarian to help you decide what you are looking for. A professional librarian will ask questions that explore what directions you want to go, then provide key words and techniques to match your needs. Human knowledge and experience still works better than priorities based on money.

Tina

Unfortunately, it’s a dying breed.
Introducing a paid service that gives access to “human search support” could be an interesting niche. Search engine optimization the other way around. ;)

Tina

Very good suggestion Amjad, thank you.
I didn’t think of that although I use it occasionally.

Tina

Unfortunately, it’s a dying breed.
Introducing a paid service that gives access to “human search support” could be an interesting niche. Search engine optimization the other way around. ;)

Mel

Ditch Google ??? Really ? I don’t think so. Maybe you wish me to switch my default search engine to yahoo or bing ??? I think you, as the author of this article, are more biased than google itself. Since when “link authority” become a negative effect on search results ? especially considering google’s ongoing fight with so-called link farms… Get your facts straight

Tina

Mel,

I’m afraid you fell for my punchline and didn’t read the entire article. :)

What I was really saying is that you should try other search engines *if* Google kept returning irrelevant results. As I have said previously, I’m almost exclusively using Google for my searches, meaning I’m more biased towards Google than towards any other search engine. *But* it’s good to have alternatives and be aware of them!

Fact is, Google’s algorithm *is* more biased towards page rank, i.e. link authority than other search engines. Please see Troy’s article for the details and try his examples yourself, just like I did.

Taken together, I think I *did* get my facts straight. However, if you can point out where I didn’t, I will appreciate your rebuttal.

Tina

Mel,

I’m afraid you fell for my punchline and didn’t read the entire article. :)

What I was really saying is that you should try other search engines *if* Google kept returning irrelevant results. As I have said previously, I’m almost exclusively using Google for my searches, meaning I’m more biased towards Google than towards any other search engine. *But* it’s good to have alternatives and be aware of them!

Fact is, Google’s algorithm *is* more biased towards page rank, i.e. link authority than other search engines. Please see Troy’s article for the details and try his examples yourself, just like I did.

Taken together, I think I *did* get my facts straight. However, if you can point out where I didn’t, I will appreciate your rebuttal.

acuff

Wonder Wheel listed under Google options (link on top of the results page) helps to focus the search, as well