The internet is a vast and powerful tool for finding information quickly.
The problem is that with so much information available, it can be a challenge to find what you really need.
One search term in Google, Microsoft Bing, or Yahoo! Search can return hundreds of thousands of results that could take hours to sift through.
Of course, this defeats the purpose of using a search engine in the first place.
Fortunately, savvy Internet users have several workarounds available to them to find exactly what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
The more specific your keywords, the more relevant your results will be to what you really want. For example, if you’re in the market for a new vehicle, a search for “red SUV with all-wheel drive” will yield more useful results than simply “car” or “vehicle.” For even better results, type in your location too. Now you’ll find dealerships in your area that have red all-wheel drive SUVs for sale, instead of every car dealership in North America (or the world).
Have you ever tried to find a recipe for duck soup, only to get pages of results about the acclaimed 1933 film of the same name? Or how about when you’re looking for a new wallpaper for your device only to be presented with the kind of wallpaper you might put up in your living room. Adding the minus (-) to your search terms allows you to eliminate many irrelevant results, streamlining your search. This works as a Boolean search NOT and it limits your searches. You can type in “duck soup -movie” or “wallpaper -home” to filter out unwanted results.
Bracketing an entire phrase in quotation marks will bring back results about only that specific phrase, giving you a shorter and more specific results page. For example, if you’re looking for information specifically about the movie called Scary Movie, rather than simply a listing of scary movies in general, try typing quotation marks around the title to filter out everything except for that specific movie. Otherwise, your search may also bring up the results of separate searches for the words “scary” and “movie”.
Words like “and,” “of” and “the” can complicate your search, turning up unnecessary results that include these stop words. By eliminating such words from your search term, you can narrow down your results significantly. The only exception is if such stop words form part of a title. In this case, you would need to include them. So if you are doing a search for The Wizard of Oz, you should include the words “the” and “of” since they’re part of the title, but otherwise these should be left out.
Drop suffixes like “-ing” or “-ed” from your search terms and search for the base word only. Otherwise, you risk excluding some relevant results. For example, try searching for “native wildflower” rather than the plural form “native wildflowers” in order to get the information you want; otherwise, you may end up only with results that include the plural word. Of course, there is an exception to this rule: if you’re searching for a site that is specifically about a certain activity, such as painting or writing, you might want to include the “-ing” suffix.
Besides the minus operator which we mentioned before, there are lots of others that you might not even know about.
For example, the wildcard (*) operator brings up results in which a word is excluded. This is great if you’re searching for a name or title that you can’t quite remember in its entirety. And the “or” operator enables you to search for two terms at the same time; so if you type in “diner OR cafe,” you can search up all the diners and cafes in your area in one fell swoop.
At the bottom of your results page, Google, Microsoft Bing, or Yahoo! Search provides hints to refine your search even further. If you type in “women’s clothing” for a search term, you will be prompted to narrow your search with suggestions like “women’s clothing online” or “classy women’s clothing.” These suggestions yield valuable ideas for a more specific and relevant search. The tool can also function to narrow your search based on date, country, or language.
From time to time, we all come across useful websites which we glimpse only briefly before moving on in our search. In this case, you might remember that you visited a website that will work for your search, but you may not remember the site’s URL or name. Sometimes you can find the site again by entering the same search terms, but this method is not always reliable.
Fortunately, by going into your browser history, you have a handy way to refresh your memory on sites that you’ve already visited.
You can set a time limit within the search for finding relevant results. If the search times out without finding what you need, it’s time to switch methods or search engines and try another tactic. If you’ve been using Google, try your search with Microsoft Bing, Yahoo! Search, Ask.com, Duck Duck Go or Boolify. These all have slightly different search criteria and will pull up different results which might align better with what you’re looking for.
By following these simple steps, you can become a savvy connoisseur of information on the Internet, getting what you need quickly and effectively.