Getting the Most out of Google: Optimizing Your Search Queries
Tracking the conversations in around the support and bug reporting spaces over the past couple of weeks, I’ve read lots of post by SCN users frustrated because they cannot find what they are looking for. While many users have now tracked down the spaces they want to follow and know where they’ll find answer, they still don’t have a way to search the content of just those individual spaces. Well, I’d like to show you a few tricks on how to search individual spaces using Google.
Now you see me, now you don’t.
When we launched the New SCN, there was a free text filter that allowed user to filter results by the word or words entered*. You could go to the ABAP discussions and enter “deployment” to see only threads with the word “deployment” appearing in them. This function has since been deactivated and we’re hoping it’s restored soon (no date yet). A side effect to this is that when users can’t find what they are looking for, they tend to post a new threads that have been asked and answered already: well, who can blame them when they can’t find anything!
* There is a tag filter still in place but this relies on there being tags on every piece of content: unfortunately we’re not there yet 😐
Control Search Results with Constructed Queries
I’d like to show you a few tricks on how to optimize your Google queries, specifically for narrowing search results to a single New SCN space. My previous blog on optimizing queries with categories and search operators gets you started on this but we’re now going to dive deeper into this to provide SCN users with practical solutions for right now.
Google provides users with a wealth of tools that allow you to filter search results. In addition to some practical categories that appear on the left side of search results, there are also search operators. Search operators are functions that are added to your queries so that you can filter the results.
The site operator limits results to domain, sub-domain or section of a website. To use it, just start your query with site: followed by the domain, sub-domain or path. For example, site:scn.sap.com for SCN only or search across the entire SAP domain with site:sap.com (www.sap.com, scn.sap.com, help.sap.com, ecohub.sap.com, experience.sap.com, etc.). site:scn.sap.com/thread retrieves URLs beginning with that path, in this case SCN discussions (forum threads).
|” ” (Phrase)||
Use the phrase operator to match a word or an exact string of text, such as “security” or “sap community network”. Because all assets within a space contain the space name, this can be used to retrieve results from a single specified space, such as “abap development”.
To exclude terms from the results, just place a minus in front of them: -debugger. Multiples can be entered too: -debugger -begginer
|inurl:||Specifies keyword that must appear in URL of search results|
Putting it All Together
It’s as easy as ABC! Just assemble the pieces and drop them into the Google search box:
The above query tells Google to retrieve the following:
- Only results from the domain scn.sap.com (URL beginning with scn.sap.com…)
- Where the string “abap development” appears on the page (i.e. all content in the ABAP Development space)
- ❗ To increase accuracy, use the full space name exactly as it appears
- Remove results where debugger appears
You can also narrow the results to discussions only by specifying site:scn.sap.com/thread. Ditto for documents (site:scn.sap.com/docs) and blogs (site:scn.sap.com inurl:blog)
❗ There are, however, some shortcoming: content from sub-spaces also appears since the name of the parent space also appears on the content. You can use the minus operator to help filter these out.
With Google Custom Search for New SCN
Search operators can also be used with my Google custom search where results are already narrowed down to SCN and related resources only: this eliminates the need to use the site operator. Just enter your query and then refine the results by choosing a category from the top of the window to see only discussions, blogs, eLearning and so on, for the space you specified using the phrase operator:
Give it a try and let me know how it works out. Happy searching!