Keywords important to get accurate searches

By Jennifer Barrera - Staff Reporter

Keywords are critical when researching onweb-sourced information sites, a Highline librarian told last week's Science Seminar.

Alison Reibel, is a writer and co-founder of the Social Justice Library Conference and has a  master's in library science.

"I'm going to be talking about how Google works, how you can search information and problems including bias," Reibel said.

A search engine is designed to search for information when a person types in specific words and is going to get results based on those keywords.

"When typing the first word [in an internet search] and getting the result, [much happens] in that millisecond in between the process and getting the results," she said.

Reibel went step-by-step about what goes on in the millisecond before getting the results. 

The first step, is analyzing your words because Google will try to match the keywords. It does this by sending web crawlers that search the internet by clicking on different web sites and scanning words. The web crawlers determine which pages have the keywords and how often they appear.

"After that is ranking the pages that are going to be useful for me," Reibel said.

The next step, ranking a page, involves a Black Box algorithm that looks for how many times the keywords appear on a page, how many people have clicked on the web page, and how many web pages have been linked to that page.

"The greater the number of links is a sign a that it is more reliable," Reibel said.

Next, Google considers context. This is where the search engine looks at who's doing the search in order to personalize and customize the information for that person based upon where the person is located, past searches and other websites that person has visited.

"Google knows who's the user by searching in Chrome, Gmail or other Google accounts," Reibel said. "This is compiled when using your phone, laptop or computer."

The final step, is returning results. It involves providing information that is most helpful to that person's search. Based on that keywords Google is looking for, a type of format is used that is going to give news, maps, videos or statistics.

Reibel then explain how one can use Google more effectively.

The first step, she said, is to determine what type format you are looking for: news, statistics or articles. This is done by using Google Advance Search to narrow the search through the use of  keywords and limiting by format types. 

One of the problems Google has, has been a bias based on not knowing which pages are going to be free of stereotypes should your keywords have alternate meanings.

Reibel said alternative search engines to Google include Duckduckgo, Incognito/ private browser and the Wayback Machine.

This was the last Science Seminar for the year. The seminars will resume in sometime during Winter Quarter, said Chemistry professor Aaron Moehlig.

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