When it comes to searching for information, the internet is usually a computer user’s first destination. After all, Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day. With all of the webpages out there, how can you effectively sift through all of that information to find what you need? It all starts with what you type into the search engine.
First, a search engine is a program that searches and identifies items in a database of webpages that correspond to your search criteria. So, if you type “apple pie recipes” into a search engine like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, or Dogpile, you should get a list of 151,000,000+ results on apple pie recipes—not chocolate cake recipes (because you didn’t search for that). Second, search engines often display millions of results, so it can be overwhelming to weed through them all, but you shouldn’t have to!
Here are some of the ways you can use a search engine effectively to find what you need:
- Be as specific as possible with your keywords.
- Example: Labradors rather than Dogs
- Example: Disable app notifications on Windows 10 rather than Too many pop-ups
Specifics narrow your results down enough so that they’re applicable to you. Vague keyword searches can make it difficult to find what you need.
- Try to avoid typing full questions that can clutter your search.
- Example: Time in Hong Kong rather than What time is it in Hong Kong?
- Example: Electrician service near me rather than Where can I find an electrician?
Search engines are sophisticated enough to drop extraneous or unhelpful words (is, an, a, it, etc.) when necessary, but you still want to practice being concise.
- Use quotation marks for exact phrases.
- Example: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” (605,000 results) rather than It was the best of times, it was the worst of times with no quotations (560,000,000 results)
- Example: “wind power” (20,000,000 results) rather than wind power with no quotations (761,000,000 results)
Quotation marks lock your keywords together for the search engine to find them in that exact order. This is especially helpful if you’re looking for exact quotes or song lyrics.
- Consider your results carefully.
- Some companies work hard to improve their visibility online, desiring to be on the first page of search results or even at the top of the results list. This doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily the most authentic or accurate information. So be critical of which sites you choose to access, limiting how much authority you place in opinion pages like blogs and forums.
- Utilize AutoComplete.
- Most of the time, when you start typing your keywords, a search engine may display a dropdown list of suggestions to help complete your search. This helps with efficiency as well as the opportunity to discover other search terms you nay not have considered.
These are just a few tips to help you find information quickly and successfully. After all, you’d rather spend time baking those apple pies rather than sifting through millions of recipe results for them!