Search Help

Basic Search Tips

Get Started
To begin searching, enter a term or phrase into the yellow search box in the upper right-hand corner of the website and then click “go”. Use words that are most likely to appear on a website page or within a document.  If the words have been frequently searched for, they and their variations will be presented in a select list for easier searching.

Key Words
The words you enter into the search are called “key” words. Keep it simple and describe what you need with as few terms as possible, but be as descriptive as you can. Single words tend to be very general, for example, a search using the keyword Road will generate many more search results than Road Maintenance. The pages on the website are assigned Key Words and phrases that are specific to the content on the page. Therefore, by using Key Words or phrases that are specific, you are likely to have more meaningful search results returned.

Letter Case & Punctuation
Don’t be concerned about lower/upper case or punctuation of Key Words. The search is not sensitive to case and punctuation.

If you’re not sure how to spell something don’t worry, just do your best. If a misspelling occurs, the results can offer a better spelling for the term you entered   If an alternate spelling is found, the results will display: “Did you mean: [more common spelling]?”. Click the suggested spelling to start a new search for that term.

Exact Phrase Search
To search for an exact phrase or term, use quotes at the beginning and end of your search term. For example, to search for any website pages or documents containing the term residential recycling, enter: [ “residential recycling” ] (include quotes). The search will only return pages or documents that include content that matches this EXACT wording.

OR Operator
The search will consider all the words entered into the search box. If you want to specifically search on either one of several words, you can use the OR operator (you must enter 'OR' in ALL CAPS). For example, [ Media Releases 2008 OR 2009 ] will return results matching either one of these years, whereas [ Media Releases 2008 2009 ] (without the OR) will return results for pages include both years on the same page.

Sometimes what you're searching for has more than one meaning. For example, the term "division" can refer to either math or separation. You can exclude a word from your search by putting a minus sign (-) immediately in front of the term you want to exclude from the search results. Be sure to include a space before the minus character. Example:[ division –math ]

File Type Filtering
The query prefix filetype: filters the results to include only documents with the specified file extension. No spaces can come between filetype: and the specified extension. For example, If you were searching for a pdf document containing the word parks, you would enter [ parks filetype:pdf  ] into the search box after your Key Words.

You can specify multiple file types by adding filetype: terms to the search query, combined with the OR operator. To search for both pdf OR Microsoft Word documents including the term “zoning”, enter [ zoning filetype:doc OR filetype:pdf ] into the search box.

File Type Exclusion
The query prefix -filetype: filters the results to exclude documents with the specified file extension. No spaces can come between -filetype: and the specified extension. For example, If you didn’t want to return any pdf documents with your search, you would enter [  –filetype:pdf  ] into the search box after your Key Words. For instance, if you wanted to search for pages that had the term "recycling", but you didn't want any pdf documents returned, enter in:
[ recycling -filetype:pdf ]

Filtering Search Results

The Global Keyword Search returns results matching the Terms entered in the Search box.  The County website contains a vast quantity of information, so search results often number into the thousands.  4 options are provided to assist in narrowing search results to a more manageable level after a search is executed. They are:

  • File Type Filter
  • Key Words
  • Content Type
  • Top 10 Searches

These options are found on the left side of the search results display page.  They are available ONLY AFTER a search has been performed. 

There are three File Type Filter options available to narrow the number of results.  By default, Show all files is selected, which provides search results that include Web Pages and PDF documents.  Selecting Hide PDFs will display only web pages.  Selecting Show only PDFs will display only PDF documents.  

All web pages on the website are assigned one or more key words based on the subject matter of the page.  The Search results display provides a list of up to the 15 top (most frequent) key words assigned to web site pages that are included in the Search results.   Clicking on any of the Key words will narrow the search to only the results that contain that assigned key word.  Clicking the bold X after the keyword will remove the filter and return the original search results.

All content displayed in the search results is assigned a Content Type.  The Search results display a list of up to the 15 top (most frequent) Content Types that are found in the search results.   Clicking on any of the Content Types will narrow the results to only the results that are assigned that Content Type.  Clicking the bold X after the Content Type will remove the filter.

For convenience, a list of the Top 10 Searches provided.  This list is updated continuously and represents the terms most often used to Search the County Website.  Clicking any of the results of the Top 10 Searches, performs a new search using that Search Term.


Sort By Relevance
When search results are generated, the default sorting of returned results is by Relevance.  Words or phrases entered into the search box are analyzed by Google, which combines PageRank technologies and hypertext-matching analysis and more than 100 criteria to determine the best result for the search.

Sort By Date
Once search results are generated, the user has the option of sorting the results by date.  By clicking the Sort by date link, the generated results are re-sorted in descending order, so that the most recently updated item from your search is at the top.  If you then click the Sort by relevance link, you will be returned to the original search results, which are again sorted and displayed by relevance.


Washington County Search Technology

Washington County uses a customized and integrated installation of the Google Search Appliance (GSA) to enable our Search capabilities.   This device provides the same website content indexing and search logic algorithms as does on the internet, but localized to the Washington County public website.

For more information see: