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Using Search Engines Effectively

Friday, February 4, 2011

Using search engines is simple. You just have to type what you are searching for in the search box and hit ‘enter’ or click the ‘search’ button. The search results page will appear right after.

Most of the time, you immediately get what you need after doing a basic query. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your searches.

Basic things to know:

Every word you type in the search box matters.

Searches are always case-insensitive, so upper-case and lower-case letters do not matter. If you type ‘The Philippines’ and ‘the philippines’, the search results are the same.

Punctuation and other special characters are ignored by search engines.

Ways to better searches:

Keep it simple. If you’re searching for a company, just type its name or what you can recall of it. If you’re looking for a Chinese restaurant in your area, just type in Chinese food and the name of your town. There’s no need for unusual syntax or advanced keywords when it comes to search engines.

Use words that will most likely appear in the page. If you think of how the page you are looking for will appear, then you will probably type ‘headache’ instead of ‘my head hurts’ to be directed to a medical page you can use.

Put focus in your search terms. Describe what you need in as few words as possible, because each additional word limits the results. Instead of typing ‘weather report in Cebu’, just type ‘weather Cebu’.

The more unique the word, the more relevant the results, so choose the most descriptive words you can think of. The words ‘document’, ‘website’ or ‘info’ are not needed. Using the keywords, ‘Beatles ringtones’, is also more specific than ‘celebrity sounds’.

How to do advanced web searches:

Advanced web searches help you find sites that match very specific criteria. To do an advanced search, just click the “Advanced” link to the right of the search box. Keep in mind though that the more restrictions you set on your search, the fewer results are returned.

Here are some shortcuts for your advanced search:

1.If you want to search for all the words, insert ‘and’ or ‘+’ between the words.
2.If you want to search for at least one of the words, type ‘or’ between the words.
3.If you want the exact phrase to appear in the site, place quotation marks around a set of words.
4.If you want to exclude words from your search, insert ‘not’ between the words or ‘-‘ before a word.

When doing web searches, it also helps to be practical. Limit search results to those that have been updated in the past three, six or 12 months. If you know that you are looking for a government site or an educational site, add ‘.edu’ or ‘.gov’ in the search box also.

Similarly, restrict your search if you’re looking for a specific type of file like .doc or .pdf or .ppt. Otherwise the search engines will follow default settings and search for all file types. Some search engines also take into consideration the particular country the website comes from.


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