The rise and growth of the Internet has made vast quantities of information more available to legal researchers, but with more than 1.8 billion websites on the World Wide Web, the task of filtering through information can be a significant challenge. However, simple changes can improve legal search queries on Google to return more relevant results and save time.
Research is an inextricable part of the work of lawyers and other legal professionals. Search engines can be a source of frustration, because they are not designed for the complexities of legal language. Conditional terms like if or when, for example, can confuse a search engine and return irrelevant content.
Fortunately, with a little knowledge of how search engines work and the use of specific operators for advanced Internet searches, attorneys can improve search results and reduce the amount of time canvassing content to find nuggets of information.
Use Advanced Internet Search Techniques to Improve Legal Search Queries
What percentage of your online research time is spent scanning search results to find relevant and authoritative resources versus actually reviewing useful materials related to your legal topic of interest?
Performing legal research with advanced search operators can improve the quality of your results and allow you to move on more quickly to higher-level tasks, such as case strategy or synthesis.
To Improve Legal Search Queries, Get to Know Google
Understanding the way Google and other search engines work can enlighten your Internet search strategy and improve search results. Search engines constantly review content available on the Internet and attempt to identify keywords and content based on a predefined algorithm. This information is cataloged and retained in an index.
When a person enters a query into a search engine, the indexed pages are reviewed and results are returned in the most likely relevant and useful order, as determined by another algorithm.
Many factors are considered in this calculation. For example, Google uses at least 200 cataloged bits of information to determine which web pages to show you first. While Google does not reveal what all of these factors are, this article provides information and insight into what’s currently important for search engine optimization.
Faster, Better Legal Research on Google
Once you have a better understanding of how search engines work, you can use advanced Internet search techniques to improve search results on Google. Advanced search operators are codes that you can use to narrow or filter online searches by providing the search engine with more detail about the information you seek. Many attorneys are unaware that Boolean-type search operators are available for search engines.
These are some basic examples of operators for advanced Internet searches on Google:
Probably the best known of search commands, quotes allow you to tell the search engine that the phrase you have entered should be matched exactly.
Example: “IRS tax deductions”
An asterisk serves as a wild card and can represent one or multiple characters.
Example: IRS 1040 Schedule*
Two numbers with .. between them indicates that you want the search engine to return results within that number range.
Example: IRS tax regulations 2014..2019
The operator OR is used to make search results more inclusive.
Example: IRS 1040 Schedule A OR B
The commands above will help you better define and refine your search results, but these will allow you to further isolate the specifics of your search:
This command specifies that you want the words in your search query to appear in the title of the article.
Example: intitle:IRS tax deductions
Further refine the search by requiring that all words in your query appear in the title of the article.
Example: allintitle:IRS tax deductions
- inurl: or allinurl:
These specify that your query should appear in the web page’s url.
Examples: inurl:IRS Form 1040 – or – allinurl:IRS Form 1040
- intext: or allintext:
This command tells the search engine to review the text of a page for your specified query.
Examples: intext:IRS tax deductions – or – allintext:IRStaxdeductions
The AUTHOR: search operator can be useful when you are looking for information related to a specific expert, witness, or party to a case.
Example: AUTHOR:Laura Saunders 2019 tax deductions
The SITE: operator indicates that you wish to search only within a specific website.
Example: SITE:IRS.gov 2019 tax deductions
A proximity search, using AROUND(X) returns results of search words or phrases you specify that are located on the page within your designated number of words from one another.
Example: IRS tax deductions AROUND(3) Form 1040
When you know the information you seek is likely to be found in a specific file format, you can use filetype: to request results in that file type.
Example: filetype:pdf IRS tax deductions
Combine SEO Knowledge and Advanced Operators to Improve Legal Search Queries
A solid working knowledge of search engine optimization combined with the use of advanced Internet search techniques will increase the efficiency of your online legal research. Of course, these practices are most effective when accompanied by strong legal research skills and familiarity with some of the authoritative legal sources on the web.
You can also improve legal search queries by incorporating relevant keywords for jurisdictions and dates. And it is important to note that the operators for advanced Internet searches above can be used together in strings to place a finer filter on search criteria.
Improve Search Results with Advanced Internet Search Techniques
The relatively simple techniques outlined above can improve search results and save you time, which you can then devote to client matters that are marginalized when inefficient research consumes your time.
If you would like to learn more about how your law firm can improve legal search queries, or how you can use information about advanced Internet search techniques and search engine optimization to attract search engines and Internet users to your website, contact TOPDOG Legal Marketing or call at (844) HEY-TDOG (439-8364) today. Our lawyer-driven team helps attorneys and law firms nationwide “get found” online.