Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Searching for words with many meanings

Here's a common search conundrum: trying to find information that includes a word with many uses.

I encountered this problem last week when trying to find a bathroom fixture made by a company named 'Premier.' Normally, a proper noun is a pretty good search term--one of the few types of terms that can be used "as is." Since this is the name of the company, it should be included in the search.

But a quick scan of the snippets reveals that 'premier' is heavily used as an adjective and a noun (e.g., premier products and Premier of Canada). The company I'm looking for is not in the list--oh, it's there somewhere, no doubt buried several pages down.

Figuring that the name of the company would be in the url, I might have saved some time by using a special operator, inurl:premier. Normally, keywords alone work just fine, but when your main keyword has so many meanings, a special way to filter the results can be very useful. Unfortunately, in this case, there are lots of companies that call themselves premier, and quite a few of them make bathroom fixtures as well.

To be honest, the only way I knew I finally found the right company was to compare logos on the sites. I had an example of the logo I was looking for. If you think a Google image search for premier or premier logo is a good idea, go ahead and try it....

So I needed one or more terms in addition to premier that are not likely to be used on many pages other than the ones posted by the company. I could only speculate what might work. Since I was looking for a tub, I tried premier tub. This had little effect, since many companies produce tubs they consider premier in quality.

Several more attempts--each one with a specific fixture in mind--finally brought me to the page, but my problem the whole time was trying to guess what words the company used to describe themselves and their tub. By the way, the term tub was not in my final query.

Try it yourself: Premier Internet Search Challenge

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