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Searching the Internet, 12/11/2007  

 

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Email Tips, 12/11/2007  

Get Results from Your Internet Searches

How to Optimize Your Search Results

Here are some general rules for making the most of your research. Keep in mind that not all search engines support all of these features.

  • Search using more keywords to narrow your results and increase relevance.
  • If too few results are obtained, broaden your search with fewer keywords.
  • Try using a boolean operator, e.g. this or that. Most search engines automatically use a boolean search, whether or not you include the "or".
  • Use an essential term, such as the AND, +, NOT, or - operators, e.g. games + download (results include all keywords) or games + download - demo (results exclude demo). Nirvana AND Buddhism, NOT Cobain will limit results to Buddism's nirvana, and exclude the rock group.
  • Enter an exact phrase wrapped in double quotes, e.g. "John Smith" or "Smith, John".
  • Since some names are regular English words, such as "Bill" and "gates", you should always use the proper case when searching for proper names, e.g. Bill Gates, instead of bill gates.
  • Try a different search engine. No search database contains everything.
  • Some search engines contain advanced search features. These are accessible by click a small link near the search box.
  • Search with alternative words:
    • Use common synonyms.
    • Search using both plural and singular word forms.
    • Vary the spelling or use common typos, e.g. nuclear, nuecular.
    • Try variations of the root word, e.g. comedic, comedy, comical.
    • Use common acronyms, e.g. SEO, "search engine optimization", TV, television.
  • Search for content on a particular medium, e.g. newsgroup, news, image, shop, blog. Better yet, use a specialized search engine for that medium.
  • Words such as "the", "a", "an", etc. have no relevance in any search. With few exceptions, such as an exact phrase search, these words are always ignored in the query.
  • Instead of keywords, type a question, e.g. How do search engines work?