Thursday, May 09, 2013

Tips for Internet Searches

Internet Searches
We all do some sort of research on the internet, whether it be looking up information for a school report or personal enlightenment. Some search results can leave us scratching our heads, wondering why we yielded links that are far from what we had in mind, and some results are just simply lacking. Here are some tips that can help your search be more efficient and succinct.
  1. Enter as many keywords as possible. If you do this, you are likely to yield more results. It’s best to try five to seven keywords to help narrow your search field.
  2. Use nouns as keywords. Words such as “a” and “the,” pronouns such as “she” and “he,” and prepositions such as “over” and “to” slow down the search engine and often produce irrelevant results. Some search engines actually ignore these words.
  3. Use exact phrases when searching.  Quotation marks should surround each phrase. The ability to search for exact phrases can be extremely useful in locating material online.
  4. Use Auto-complete. Sometimes search engines will display helpful results in a drop-down list. Selecting the appropriate item as it appears will save time typing.
  5. Don’t Capitalize. Most search engines ignore capitalization.
  6. Get better results with Boolean commands. “Boolean searching” can narrow your search results and increase the likelihood that relevant results will be displayed. This searching technique involves using Boolean commands:  AND, OR, and NOT.
    • The AND command will only return documents that contain all the keywords listed. For example, if you search for “Birmingham” AND “Library” AND “Hours,” the results displayed will include all of these terms.
    • The OR command will return documents that contain any of the keywords. If you search for “Paris” OR “vacation” OR “ airfares” the search engine will display documents that contain even one of these keywords or phrases.
    • The NOT command will return documents that do not contain the keyword listed. If you complete the same search for Bahamas, but this time included NOT “Vacation” the results displayed would not include any reference to the Bahamas Vacations.
    • Some search engines automatically include the AND command in searches and process the plus (+) and minus (-) signs as another way to express AND or NOT.
    • The wildcard operator (*) is also known as the “fill in the blank” operator. For example, “star *” will return pages with "star" and any other term(s) the search engine deems relevant. You can’t use wildcards for parts of words. So for example, "star w*" is invalid.

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