Using Wildcards with Major Search Engines

Google, Yahoo, Ask, Excite, Froogle, Bing, IMDB and others all support search wildcards.
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Nov. 30, 2012 - PRLog -- Contrary to popular belief, most internet search engines now support use of wildcards in searches.  Enter a string of characters or words which include the * (asterisk) character, and the search engine tries to "fill in the blank" where the asterisk appears.  For example (and ignoring the brackets in this write-up), a search on the character string [ up * air ] should return links relating to the 2009 film "Up in the Air" starring George Clooney.  A search on [ * good * the * ] will come up with references to the 1966 Clint Eastwood classic "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," among other urls.  The order in which a given search engine provides results can vary greatly, of course, but if you're willing to turn a couple of pages you're likely to find what you're after.

The more you give a search engine, and the more accurate the characters (and their order) that you provide, the better your chances of getting the match you seek. Spelling "corrections" can begin to be offered by engines in place of what they deem unlikely matches, per their specialized weightings and algorithms, as can foreign language links. For example, entering [ arch * vorhis ] quickly yields numerous links to the popular suspense-mystery thriller ARCHANGEL, by Michael Vorhis. But a search on the string [ arch*rhis ] won't come up with those links until many dozens of pages down the line, assuming instead that you must have meant to type "arch this" or some other collection of letters. If you give too little, you're likely to wade through languages half a planet away, or perhaps obscure patent abstracts, looking for your target page. Better to try several different spellings and use the asterisk wildcard character a little creatively, to increase the odds of success.

Many search engines will fill in the blanks anyway, whether a wild card character is present or not. But the asterisk can somehow signal that something must be exactly there. Lest you doubt the wildcard's value, put the entire string of characters, wildcards and all, in quotes...and watch the results sharpen in many cases. Or maybe not; the quotes sometimes impede the result you're after.

Doubling up the magic character won't help; a single asterisk means anything from one character to several words. And remember that most search engines ignore other punctuation characters, so they can be skipped as well (even inside quote marks).

As implied above, another powerful search trick is the use of quotation marks to group words you know for a fact come in a particular order. Essentially it filters out word orders different from what you've entered.

In the end it costs nothing to try wildcards, and they may just do the trick. Internet searches are by nature a trial and error adventure. There are times when the wildcard can make it that much more powerful.

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Tags:Search, Wild, Google, Clooney, Eastwood
Industry:Lifestyle, Computers
Location:United States
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