Search modifiers are instructions you can add to a basic keyword search to control what the database or search engine does with your search keywords.
This guide will cover:
Who decides what you see at the top of the results list when you search?
You probably know that a ranking algorithm is involved, but I bet you can't explain exactly how that algorithm works. Most of us can't, because these algorithms tend to be extremely complex (whole books have been written on the mathematics underpinning them) and often secret (so competitors can't copy a successful model).
This makes it almost impossible to tell exactly which factors are influencing the search results that you see.
But if you know how to use search modifiers you don't have to surrender all of your power to the algorithms. When you can tell the search engine precisely what you want (or don't want) to see in your results list, you are much more likely to get what you actually need instead of what the algorithm writers think you might want.
Why not take charge of your search, and spend less time scrolling?
Most people don't bother using search modifiers much, and when they do, they don't use them well.
This isn't because modifiers are difficult, it's just that the clever folks at Google and elsewhere are working hard to make search more 'intuitive' (read: don't make me think). Most people are perfectly happy to let the ranking algorithm do the thinking for them.
So, at the cost of very little effort, you can be a lot better than average at database and web searching.
And if you can find information when others can't, you will look super cool and clever.
(And your friends / teachers / clients / boss will be wildly impressed!)
Why not stand out from the crowd?