Search Formulation: Using the Right Keywords for Your Research Whenever you conduct research of any topic on the Internet, it is always essential that you know what specific keywords you will need.
AN HKA SCENARIO: Rabecca , one of the HKAs of MiaMia, receives a query from a client detected in Central Texas, USA, that states: Question: Hi. While I was driving at around 10 in the morning, I saw a strange snake crossing the road. It's a thin, long, dark snake which was almost black, but with shades of copper on its sides. However, what made it so beautiful was its reddish tail. Can you identify the name of this snake? Thank you!
How will Rabecca answer this question? Here are the following research steps that would help her (and you!).
1. List the information that you know by applying the 5 WH Formula: - WHO/WHAT? a strange snake; thin, long, and dark; almost black with coppery color on its sides; has reddish tail. - WHERE? in Central Texas, USA (assuming that the client lives here) - WHEN? 10 am (day time, one of the hottest hours since it's in Texas) - HOW? by crossing the road (of course by crawling) - WHY? Maybe migrating?, hunting preys?, cooling its body?..
2. Break down the Query Next step is removing all the stop words — words that are ignored by a search engine when retrieving topics from different web pages, which are composed mainly of prepositions, conjunctions, and common verbs. Removing those stop words (together with unnecessary words, such as “Hi”, “Thank you”, etc) will leave the following relevant words: driving 10 am snake crossing road thin long black copper sides reddish tail
Further classification of these terms into objects/nouns, actions/verbs and modifiers/qualifiers (adjectives, adverbs and predicate subjects) will result to: OBJECTS ACTIONS MODIFIERS snake driving 10 am road crossing thin sides long tail black copper reddish Central Texas USA
3. Focus on Nouns and Objects The most important keywords in the realm of Internet searching are nouns or a series of nouns (objects) because they are the most tangible and concrete part of the language, unlike actions and modifiers which are very diverse in nature. As a proof, here are some of the actions and modifiers with their corresponding number of documents found in Google alone to justify their massive diversity: TERM No. OF DOCUMENTS IN GOOGLE (as of 27/08/09) 10 am 2,420,000,000 long 1,180,000,000 black 1,080,000,000 driving 223,000,000 crossing 63,500,000 copper 67,900,000
The ambiguity of modifiers and action words may lead to different results; on the other hand, there is an exception to this guideline, which is when a modifier or action word gives a specific description to an object or noun which leads to a specific subject/topic. For example: Specific type of cheese with a total of only 168 documents as of 08/27/09 in Google by using the quotation marks operator (“”)
4. Determine Important Keywords Next step is to determine what are the most important keywords to be used. Important keywords snake (main keyword) road tail crossing 10 am Central Texas reddish black
5. Search for the Answer One way to start a search is to find out a list of all the snakes found in Central Texas. However, using only the keywords “snakes” and “Central Texas” will not give specific results, as shown below: Too many for a 3- minute limit* of answering
By adding more appropriate modifiers to narrow down the topic, it then becomes: Central Texas black snake reddish tail day crossing road The result is: It dramatically decreased to 3,400 documents; (answer is on the 8th rank).
Adding an Inclusion operator (+), however, will give Rabecca an advantage. Central Texas +black snake +reddish tail +day +crossing road And therefore it will give a better result, as shown below: The right answer, 2nd rank No. of documents is reduced
Upon visiting the second page, Rabecca finds out, based on the descriptions given by the customer from Central Texas, that the name of the said snake is a “whipsnake,” specifically a Central Texas Whipsnake ( Masticophis taeniatus girardi ).
Below is the page of the said site containing information which are exactly similar to what have been stated on the question:
6. Analyze Using the 5 WH Formula: Before finalizing the answer, Rabecca applies the 5 WH Formula to make sure that all the necessary information are gathered. However, it does not mean that she needs to answer all of these 5 questions, but it offers a big help to be able to develop her reading comprehension and expand her “general knowledge.” - WHO / WHAT? Central Texas Whipsnake ( Masticophis taeniatus girardi), a thin, long, and dark snake that has a coppery color coming up the sides from its ventral surface, and has a reddish tail. - WHERE? Central Texas, USA (Detected location) - WHEN? 10 in the morning (very hot hour in Central Texas) - HOW? Crossing the road - WHY? To keep warm (cold-blooded animal) Therefore, the question that needs to be answered is primarily the WHAT question.
7. Provide the Final Answer After Rabecca checked and verified that it is, indeed, a “whipsnake,” she then composes her answer, which is: Central Texas Whipsnake (Masticophis taeniatus girardi) is a thin, long, and dark snake that has a coppery color coming up the sides from its ventral surface, and has a reddish tail. It is usually seen crossing the roads during the heat of the day. Source : http://www.herpo.com/trans-pecos/snakes/mtaeni.html