Being able to conduct an efficient Internet search is a necessary skill in the world today. Unfortunately, many studies show that even college students are not as skilled at searching as they should be. With so much information out there, it is easy to get bogged down, confused, and frustrated if you can’t find the results you are looking for. A previous article at Worldstart did an excellent job of addressing some tips, but I have a few more to share or expand upon.
One key point I would like to mention is that capitalization, punctuation, and even spelling really don’t matter when you are searching. Capitalization and punctuation (with a few exceptions, listed below) are generally ignored. Spelling is corrected, as long as you are close, by a search engine. So don’t worry about capital letters and punctuation – a search for “Toledo, Ohio” and “toledo ohio” will give you the same list of results. Also, suffixes aren’t important in most cases, and are generally ignored as well.
Now, my typical search engine is Google. There are others, such as Bing and Yahoo! to name a few, but I tend to rely on Google, so many of these tips will show Google screenshots. One of my quickest tricks I use is to sort by date. At the top of the Google search window, you will see a button that says Search Tools. Clicking on that brings down a bar that offers options – Any Time, All Results, and a location. If I am searching and discover all my results are from a few years ago, I just change the Any Time to Past Year, and have more current results.
Another tip I use all the time is to use quotation marks. This was mentioned in the previous article referenced, but I’d like to add a little. When you use quotes, it will look for the exact word or words, in that order, so it does limit your results and should be used cautiously. However, I find it very helpful when I am not finding exactly what I want in my results. A good test you can do to see the differences in using quotes to not using quotes is to search your name. When you type your first and last name without quotes, it is going to give you results for any sites that include your first name and your last name, but not necessarily next to each other. Adding quotes means it will search for exactly your first name and your last name. You can see the difference by looking at the number of results.
Quotes can also be useful if you just can’t remember the title of a song or poem, but you remember a line. You can use quotes around the line you remember and will likely find the title and author or singer.
Using the minus (-) sign in a search, as mentioned in the referred article, is a good tool if you want to exclude certain words. But another to try is the word OR (in this case, caps does matter!). When you use OR in a search, it will look for sites that has one term or the other, rather than both. For example, you can search for recent Olympic results for the US or Canada. This will give you results that include the US sites and the Canadian sites.
I’ll have more great tips for you in part 2 of this article.