Why You Should Use Boolean Operators

By Nigel Cliffe

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Are you familiar with ‘Boolean Operators’?

If not, you should be!

Many people have heard me talk about the increasing importance of search. Both to find and be found. But the vast majority of people I train, are unfamiliar with the expression ‘boolean operator’.

What Is This Boolean Operator I Speak Of?

Essentially, a ‘Boolean Operator’ uses simple conjunctions to generate more focused search results on search engines like Google by combining or excluding certain keywords within a search. Trust me, using them is much more productive, streamlined and targeted once you get the hang of them.

Why Use Them in Search?

The main benefit is the sheer amount of time and effort you can save when conducting a search. Employing Boolean Operators in a search significantly cuts or increases the number of results returned and eliminates irreverent or unwanted hits, meaning you don’t have to sift through thousands of results before getting to the helpful information you are seeking.

Different search engines use Boolean operators in a slightly different way or may require the operator to be inputted with capitals or have special punctuation. Each search engine will usually have a boolean operator guide found in the help screen or ‘Research resources’ section.

At its simplest level, the three most common operators are ‘AND’, ‘OR’, and ‘NOT’.

But here’s the kicker:

***Currently, the Boolean operator ‘NOT’ does not work in Google!***

(Please note: My valued LinkedIn Connection, Irina Shamaeva, recently pointed out that ‘AND’ is not a Google operator and shouldn’t be used (although it doesn’t harm your search results) and ‘NOT’ was never a Google operator. Instead, use a minus symbol in front of the search term you wish to exclude.)

In my personal opinion, whilst ‘AND’ may not be a ‘Google’ operator, it does add a level of discipline to the way people think about and approach search, plus it has worked very well for me for many years. I have never been a fan of ‘false positives’, preferring to seek affirmation of inclusions.

You can find more information about refining Google searches here.

Irina Shamaeva has also compiled a detailed guide on some immensely helpful LinkedIn specific operators, that my Connection copywriter, John Espirian directed me to, which can be found here.

So, you have to be clever with finding positive results containing the words you are searching for, rather than finding them through omissions.

Next time you are searching for prospect clients on LinkedIn, try this useful Google search option OFF LinkedIn to ensure your search returns the most suitable results that help you reach your goals:

site:linkedin.com/in AND Director AND Manufacturing AND (Leeds OR Bradford) (Substitute your own words!)

This will bring up the profiles of people on LinkedIn who meet the criteria you have set.

The is the simplest form of boolean search.

There is a much deeper level to search that I love to explore.

What boolean operators have you found that are immensely valuable? Let me know over on LinkedIn.

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