Simple Keys To Search the Internet More Effectively:
1. Read the Help or Tips Menu
- Know your Search Tool. What is the difference between a search directory and a search engine? The Help or Tips Menu will provide valuable information about how to perform an effective search. If you have not looked at Help, Tips, or other guides, you are probably not making the best use of the search tool.
2. Prepare to Search
- Think about what you are looking for. Create a list of search terms that you can work with. Consider what is the best search tool for the job. Again, know your search tool--which one will find what you are looking. Do you want to use a search engine like Alta Vista or would you rather use a directory like Yahoo?
3. Start Simple and Take Advantage of the Search Tool
- When you begin a search, use the simple mode to enter search terms.
- Some of the major tools like Alta Vista, AskJeeves, and others have designed the simple mode for ease of use. Natural language searching, links to RealName and DirectHit for finding major sites, and other features like Lycos' First and Fast retrieve good results with minimal expertise. Although the advanced modes offers more control, the simple mode often offers an better results when beginning a search.
- Refrain from entering a search with + and -, Boolean and, or, and not, parenthetical expressions such as Cleveland and (Indians or Tribe), and other advanced features before you have simply entered the search term or terms. If you are searching a phrase, however, the " " around the search will generally lead to better results (see #10).
4. Use Both the Advanced and the Simple Modes of Search Tools
- A common misconception is that Advanced Search is for "advanced searchers." However, the information that you are looking for often dictates how you will search. Learning to work with the Advanced Search modes does not take much more time or energy to learn to use, and it allows you to work with more search options and retrieve sites that are more relevant.
5. Use Unique Terms When Possible to Retrieve More Specific Results
- Search tools use language to retrieve results. The words you choose will determine the information you find. Since some terms generally have one or more meanings, less than perfect results are common when searching the internet. Try to use words that are specific and describe what you are looking for in unique ways. The "Clustering" or "Folders" feature in search tools such as Teoma, WiseNut, and All the Web and the "Refine" feature in Alta Vista can provide other terms to use when searching.
6. Use the Directories in Search Tools or Subject Directories
- Directories, such as what is used by Yahoo, are available on most search tools and help organize sites into categories. Use these categories to focus your search. These search tool directories differ from the "guru" subject directories sites such as Digital Librarian and INFOMINE which list sites that are hand-picked by an individual or groups of individuals who maintain the site.
7. Use More than One Search Tools
- Not all search tools are alike. A search will produce radically different results depending upon the tool used. Each tool has strengths and weaknesses. Take advantage of the strengths and use tools to your advantage. If you want to see this in action, try doing the same search on different tools. Compare the first ten sites retrieved by each tool. Viva la differance!
8. Use the MetaSearch Tools and Natural Language Tools to Begin and/or Refine a Search
- MetaSearch tools, such as Ixquick Metasearch, Vivísimo, ProFusion, SurfWax, and others, search multiple tools simultaneously and are good tools to begin your research. Although the results are rarely as good as using an individual search tool, metasearchers are an excellent way to explore a topic and gather keywords and other information. After using a MetaSearch tool, refine the search by using the available features specific to each individual search tools.
- Natural language searching, available on many tools such as AskJeeves, Alta Vista, and others allows a search to be formulated into a question. Translating a search into a question often helps to you refine the type of information you want to retrieve.
9. Use Capitalization When Appropriate or to Refine a Search
- Not every search tool is case sensitive. However, you will not be penalized by using capitalization for a search such as "Martin Luther King" or "Southern Oregon University Library." Capitalization will often retrieve sites that have the search term in the title--this tactic is especially useful when searching for a terms that are not capitalized unless they are in a title (eg. Computers rather than computers).
10. Use Quotations or Other Symbols to Specify a Phrase
- Search tools do not know whether a search is for "lesson" or "plans." The default is typically lesson or plans in simple searching. Use quotations to surround a phrase such as "lesson plans." However, again a word of caution, when using simple modes in some databases like Alta Vista, searching with quotation will often produce less effective results.
11. Keep Wading to a Minimum: Size of the Search Tool Does Not Matter
- If you have not found what you are looking for in the first 20 to 50 sites, give it up and go no further. Either reformulate your search or try another search tool. Creativity is often the key to reformulating or rephrasing a search.
- The discussion of how many pages are indexed in any particular search
tools is generally discussed and in dispute. For the most part, this discussion
is a moot point other than when trying to choose a tool for two reasons:
- No one search engine is best. A sophisticated search requires many search tools.
- The number of relevant sites is more important than the number of sites searched.
12. Use Find or Ctrl-F to Help Navigate Search Results
- Often it is difficult to understand why a site is retrieved in a search.
The Find or Ctrl-F feature will quickly allow you to search the text of
a site and locate specific keywords.
Direct inquiries about this page to Dale Vidmar.