How to Search Effectively?

06 February 2010

How to search effectively and get the results you want in search engines on the Internet.

Some of my friends have troubles trying to search for certain things they need. However, they tried and ended up getting results which are of no use to them. So how do others actually searched and found the right content while some couldn't?

A bunch of search engines.

Mistakes in Word Usage
1. Write Your Search Correctly As a Sentence
Avoid any spelling mistakes and make sure you use correct grammar. If you want to search for guides, make your sentence a question. For example, if you want to find out how to kill people, you can type in "How to Kill People?" or "How to Murder?" or even, "How to Murder Without Getting Caught?" and so on. Upper case or lower case letters does not matter, but it's best to just keep it all in lower case.

Spellcheck? Know your ABCs.

2. Avoid Usage of "AND", "BUT", and "NOT"
Most of the time you would include the word "AND". If so, most search engines will treat your search as two conditions and will show you results that satisfy all the words you write, but not either one. When searching, you should search for every single possiblity, and there isn't a need to satisfy all the conditions unless you need very very specific results.

3. Precise Keywords and Phrasing
If you are searching for information on a Trojan Horse virus, don't just type in "trojan". Type in "trojan horse virus". If you type the three words with the quotation marks, it becomes a phrase and it will not be separated in the search.

Another example is when you search for a kind of cheese, don't just write cheese. Type in "parmesan cheese". This lets you go straight to the point instead of getting unrelated results.

Words, words, words.

4. Searches Shouldn't Be Too Long
It is best that your searches are short and simple. Long searches definitely won't give you the results you want. Limit your search to a maximum of 10-12 words.

5. Arrangement of Words
The arrangement of words will return you different results. Example, if you search "ROSE Online Knight Guide" and "ROSE Online Guide Knight" will return different results. If you're unsure to put which words first, search both and take a look.

Mistakes in Human Attitude
Don't Be Lazy, Browse the Pages
Another problem with most people is they're too lazy to go through the other pages. They just look at the results on the first few pages and give up. If you couldn't find you need, keep looking before you start a new search.

2. Open Multiple Windows and Tabs
To optimize your search and speed, open a few browser windows and start searching separately. Once you perform many searches, look through them one by one. When you found something related to what you need, open that link in a new tab and continue looking. Once you gathered enough tabs, look through them one by one. Do not care if the results might not be related. As long as you see something you feel that's related (through keywords or sentences) then just open a new tab.

Tabbing in Internet Explorer.

3. Click on Anything that is Related
You might feel that some of the results are not like what you want. However, you should try clicking them and take a look before you continue. It's just an extra 30 seconds or so.

One of the most famous search engines.

4. Make use of Google Cache
If you used Google to search, you might have noticed there is a Cache link at the bottom of each result. Sometimes you might have overlooked the words in a page, but by using this, the keywords are highlighted with colour and you could jump into it quickly.

Also, you can also use this if the page has been removed, forbidden or not found. Google's cache may still have the data stored on that page and so you could see the page before it is removed or even skip the login/password requirement.