Search engines are very important tools on the Internet. Without them, it would be impossible to find websites or anything else for that matter unless someone gives you the exact URL (Uniform Resource Locator). We use them probably almost every time we go online without realizing how useful they have become. How could anyone have ever appreciated the Internet without them? Can you imagine getting any research done online without the aid of a search engine?
There are so many search engines available online from the very popular ones to the not-so-famous ones but all of them can basically do the same thing. It really comes down to a matter of personal preference and need. What is important is to know how to get the most out of a search engine. For typical searches such as looking up the official homepage of McDonalds for example, all you need to do is to type the keyword McDonalds and the search results comes up about a second or two later. The link to the official homepage will definitely show up within the top 5 search results because McDonalds is a popular search term. That is fine for typical searches but what if you needed to find something a little more complex or uncommon? You’ll need to take advantage of all the search tools available to you. Let’s look as some techniques that you can use to refine your searches to yield more accurate results.
For this tutorial, we will be using Google since it is the most widely used search engine on the Internet these days.
There are a number of tricks under Google’s sleeve that can help refine your searches. Let us discuss some of them.
When searching for phrases, you will find that using quotes “” can help search engines yield better search results. For example, have you ever tried searching for the title of a very new song using nothing more than certain parts of the lyrics of the song that you heard over the radio? If you just type a certain phrase without using quotes, the search engine might yield results containing some of the words and not necessarily in the order that you specified. But, if you enclose the same phrase in quotes, the search engine will only yield results containing the exact phrase you entered. In other words, if you quote it, the search results will be more accurate for phrases.
Another wonderful feature of search engines particularly Google is the ability to specify exclusions. This means that you can search for any keyword and at the same time, specify certain words to exclude in the search results. If, for example, you want to search for the music video of Michael Jackson’s song Smooth Criminal but you don’t want live performances to be included in the results, your query should look something like this, “Michael Jackson” “Smooth Criminal” –live. Using the hyphen “–” just before the keyword instructs the search engine not to include any page that has the word “live” in it. Try it, it is very useful.
Use the categories
If you have to search for a specific media type such as a video or a picture for example, you don’t have to do the search on Google’s main page which will only give you mixed results. Conveniently enough, Google has divided its search engine into categories to enable specific searches. This means that you can get to your desired results faster. The categories available are the following: images, maps, videos, news, shopping, blogs, books, places, flights, discussions, recipes and patents.
Ask the scholar
If you ever find the need to search for academic-related content such as a literature review, thesis, case study, scientific research, books, eBooks or even authors, you should use Google scholar to search for it. If it’s there, scholar will find it or at least references to it if the content is really difficult to find. It is an amazing tool.
Now that you know a little more about how to take advantage of the power of search engines particularly Google, it will be easier for you to find resources online. Using the tips mentioned in this article, your online searches will be easier, quicker and more accurate than ever.