Doing a search on Maine.gov is easy. Simply type one or more search terms (the words or phrase that best describe the information you want to find) into the search box and hit the 'Enter' key or click on the Go button.
In response, Google produces a results page: a list of web pages related to your search terms, with the most relevant page appearing first, then the next, and so on.
Here are some basic tips to help you maximize the effectiveness of your search:
Choosing the right search terms is the key to finding the information you need.
Start with the obvious – if you're looking for general information on Maine, try Maine.
But it's often advisable to use multiple search terms; if you're planning a Maine vacation, you'll do better with vacation Maine than with either vacation or Maine by themselves. And vacation Maine golf may produce even better (or, depending on your perspective, worse) results.
You might also ask yourself if your search terms are sufficiently specific. It's better to search on luxury hotels Portland than on Maine hotels. But choose your search terms carefully; Google looks for the search terms you chose, so luxury hotels Portland will probably deliver better results than really nice places to spend the night in Portland.
Google searches are NOT case sensitive. All letters, regardless of how you type them, will be understood as lower case. For example, searches for george washington, George Washington, and gEoRgE wAsHiNgToN will all return the same results.
By default, Google only returns pages that include all of your search terms. There is no need to include "and" between terms. Keep in mind that the order in which the terms are typed will affect the search results. To restrict a search further, just include more terms. For example, to find Supreme Court opinions, simply type supreme court opinions.
Google usually returns pages that use all of the words you search for. However, if some of the words in your search don't appear on the best pages we find, we'll also consider pages that don't include them. For example, when you search for recipe for a cheese souffle, we might return recipes that don't happen to include the words "for" or "a."
Very common words (often called "stopwords"), such as "the," "and," or "of," are usually dropped from searches because they typically don't convey much information compared to the other words in a search. We might also treat words as optional if they're redundant given the other words in your search. For example, in UV sun protective swimwear, requiring "UV" to appear might exclude high quality pages, so we may exclude "UV" in compiling your results.
Even when words are treated as optional, they're still taken into account in assessing how relevant a page is to your query. For example, Google shows different results for University of Maine than we do for University in Maine.
Generally, excluding common words allows us to return better search results. If one of these words is important to your search, you can precede it with a plus sign "+" to ensure that Google requires it to appear in every search result. So, for example, a search for +The Red Violin will return only results that include the word "the."
Google usually returns pages that use all of the words you included in your search. Sometimes, however, we'll consider other words as substitutes if we think that doing so will improve the results we show you. For example, if you search for dance marathons, Google's results might include pages that talk about a dance marathon. On the result pages, we'll highlight occurrences of both the original and alternate search terms that appear in titles and snippets.
There are several ways Google identifies alternate words:
- Stemming finds alternate forms of a word, such as singular or plural variations.
- Synonyms can help someone searching for UC Berkeley law school find pages that mention Boalt law school.
- Abbreviations expand search terms so that rc model airplanes might also find pages about radio control model airplanes.
- Words might be combined or split so that we return pages about organic dog food when you enter organic dogfood.
- Because it's often easier to type words without accents, a search for a coup d'etat might return pages that talk about a coup d'état..
Usually, the alternate words we add to your results will help your search, but we understand that in some cases you want to restrict your search to precisely the terms you enter. In that case, you can precede a word with a plus sign "+" to tell Google you're looking for that exact term. So, for example, if you search for dance +marathons, we'll only return pages that are talking about more than one.
Sometimes you'll only want results that include an exact phrase. In this case, simply put quotation marks around your search terms.
Phrase searches are particularly effective if you're searching for proper names ("George Washington"), lyrics ("the long and winding road"), or other famous phrases ("This was their finest hour").
If your search term has more than one meaning (bass, for example, could refer to fishing or music) you can focus your search by putting a minus sign ("-") in front of words related to the meaning you want to avoid.
Note: when you include a negative term in your search, be sure to include a space before the minus sign.