How to Use Search Engines to Find Information on the Internet

Search engines now form such an integral part of our lives that we must master how to use them. Mastering them will increase effectiveness because you may actually find the really key information that you are looking for.

Learn the syntax of the search engine. In other words, learn the language that that particular search engine operates on. Some search engines require a capital "AND" in the search phrase. Otherwise, it may just search as "OR." Other search engines require quotation marks around the phrase if you want an exact match. Still others require that you type in the words in a certain order in order to enable you to find what you are looking for. Another way similar to learning the syntax of the search engine is to use their advanced search option. After using it, you may see how they search certain phrases, and you could even use that syntax to search for something directly on the browser address bar. For example, it may have a question mark after their domain name, and a capital AND somewhere. You could kind of mimic that style and replace other words with the words that you had just searched for.

Switch your style of searching. For example, perhaps add the word "article" or the word "lecture" to your topic if you would like to have a broader, more general perspective on the topic, and you cannot find it just by typing in the topic keyword. Be innovative in your searching. Use all available tools, such as "Related Pages" if the search engine that you use has that link. Another way to search is perhaps to search for those words to only appear in the title of the page because that may give you more relevant results.

Consult multiple search engines. Be brave and consult more than one search engine, especially for a topic where you cannot find anything and you really would like to know some answers. Even though many times, the results may be similar, there may be one time that another search engine may have something different than the default search engine that you normally use.

Consult multiple sources. Feel free to browse through several sources instead of simply trusting the first source that you come to. The problem with the internet is that often, the information is not reviewed or edited, as it is in a book. Therefore, the information is definitely more prone to error. Evaluate yourself which you feel is the most correct information. In fact, certain aspects in one page may be more correct than another page, but less correct on other aspects. Related to this suggestion is to set the maximum number of pages that are displayed. It is just a lot easier to scroll through 100 sites per page than it is to click ten times. This will maximize the chances that you will find something because you will likely look through more sites and more information.

Consider typing in the word "directory" plus your topic. Often, it may simply be easier to look up a specialist directory on your topic because search engines, after all, are not perfect. They may not be able to find web pages that are related to what you are searching for because they may not base the search necessarily on the particular keywords that you use in your search.

Open the links you choose to open from each new search result in a new window. It is much easier to go back to your original search result if you open each new result in a new window because you may want to keep that search result open as you compare different pages. Set your taskbar perhaps to double column height because it is easier to see what the different windows are and it also allows you to have more windows open at a time.

Learning to use search engines effectively can open a whole new window to your own effectiveness.  

In summary, to effectively use search engines to search for information on the internet, 

A. Learn the syntax of the search engine.

B. Switch your style of searching.

C. Consider multiple search engines.

D. Consider multiple sources.

E. Open links in a new window.

Life Skills > Computer Skills > How to Use Search Engines to Find Information on the Internet


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Last Checked 2015