Have you ever been searching on the Internet and found yourself frustrated that you can't find what you are looking for? Searching on the Internet is a very important skill. If you can learn to search faster and more effectively, it's a big boost to your productivity. So how do you do it? This article gives you some advanced tips on how to be more effective when searching.
Use the exact phrase match
Google and other search engines have the syntax that if you search for something in inverted commas then the search results will need to have that exact same wording. For example if you search on Google for john graham it will include some results that do not have the exact name “john graham” in them. For example a list of names with John Davies and Anthony Graham – there is John, there is Graham but there is no name “John Graham” in the page. It's not really what you are looking for.
Instead if you search for “john graham” then the exact phrase “john graham” must be on the page. This is an important search feature that you should take advantage of.
Think about what words would be in the answer that you are looking for
Sometimes when you search using a question that you want answered you won't get a good result. But if you think, “What are the words that would be in the answer that I am looking for?” you can get to the right results more quickly. For example, let's say I want to find out how many hours the average person wastes at work each day, I can type how many hours average person wastes each day into Google, but the results are not what I am looking for. Instead I think about what the article would say that I am looking for. It might say something like “the average American worker wastes 2.5 hours each day whilst at work”. It's not going to say exactly this, but I can pick out the phrases it is highly likely to include. So I search in Google with this syntax: “at work” wastes average American day. Searching in this way leads me exactly to the result I am looking for.
Use other advanced search features
At times you will not get adequate results from the standard search on Google. You need to take advantage of some of the more advanced search features. Click on the advanced search link in Google and then explore some of the options. For example, if you are looking for a report on child poverty, try searching for a PDF file – which is more likely to be a comprehensive report rather than a web page which is less likely to contain the comprehensive information you need. You might try searching for documents in the past month or year. Recent web pages could be more relevant to what you are looking for. You can also search for articles where your keyword phrase appears in the title of the page. This can help you to focus on sites that are specifically about the topic you are searching. Another useful feature is to increase the default search results to 100 instead of 10. This gives you a lot more results to preview, instead of having to click on the next page to see the next result.
Here are some other tips to increase your effectiveness:
- When searching for something it's usually better to use multiple word phrases, as one or two words will often not give you the specific information you are looking for.
- Start with Google and also try other search engines like Bing.com to see if you can get different results that are closer to what you are looking for.
- If you are looking for a list of web sites on a particular topic, try searching in directories such as dmoz.org.
- Open multiple tabs. You might not be sure which result really contains what you are looking for. You can open multiple links from the Google search results in new tabs. You can do this quickly by holding down the control key and clicking on each of the links. This will open the results each in a new tab. You can open multiple tabs, wait for them to load and then review each one of the web sites to see which is relevant.
- Use a Firefox add-on like Faster.com to get faster previews of the web sites that you are searching for.