1: Use unique, specific terms
To reduce the number of pages returned, use unique terms that are specific to the subject you are researching. Searching for "council minutes" will return every document in the database that contains the word "council" and the word "minutes". If you know the specific topic discussed at a council meeting, search for that topic and it will probably come up near the top.
2: Use the search option for exact phrases
Using this option will return only the exact words you search in that order. Of course, you must have the phrase exactly right, but this will limit the search results imensly.
3: Don't use common words and punctuation
Common terms like 'a', 'and', 'the', are called stop words and are usually ignored. Punctuation is also typically ignored. But there are exceptions. Common words and punctuation marks should only be used when searching with the exact phrase option turned on. There are cases when common words like 'the' are significant. For instance, Raven and The Raven return entirely different results.
Most search engines do not distinguish between uppercase and lowercase, remember the following are all equivalent: 'technology', 'Technology', 'TECHNOLOGY''.
5: Drop the suffixes
It's usually best to enter the base word so that you don't exclude relevant pages. For example, 'bird' and not 'birds', 'walk' and not 'walked'. One exception is if you are looking for pages that focus on the act of 'walking', enter the whole term 'walking'.