How to use Search Engines effectively

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How to use Search Engines effectively

by: Asish Jain
The Internet is a wonderful place full of resources that can be really helpful for us.

The best way for finding information is through a virtual search engine. A search engine explores the resources on the Internet and gives results relating to your queries. Search engines allow keyword searches and use crawlers to locate sites or pages that match requests.

However, finding the information that is relevant for you is a challenge. Everyday more sites come into existence. A simple query like "web hosting" on Google returns 15,100,000 results. Now how does the user know which site is useful for them, thus creating an "Information Overload" of sorts. How is the user assured of the quality of the information?

The thing about search engines is that they generally display all the web pages that contain any or both of the words contained in the search query.

So comes the question: how do we find the information we are looking for?

There are various techniques that you can use to make your search query better which will then help to achieve more relevant results.

For instance if you use the "+" operator and restructure your query to "web hosting" + Windows it will show only those sites that offer Windows hosting. You can also use the "AND" Boolean operator, depending on what you are comfortable with.

You can use the "-" operator and key in "web hosting" - Linux thereby telling Google to make sure that it does not display Linux related hosts. This is the same as using the "NOT" Boolean operator.

There are also keywords like ADJ, NEAR etc. that are used by some of the search engines. The NEAR operator looks for keywords specified in the query within certain proximity of each other i.e. it makes sure that both the keywords "web" & "hosting" are present on the same page and are placed nearby to each other in the text.

The ADJ operator is a stricter filter and returns only those pages where the keywords are next to each other i.e. it will only return pages where the keywords "web" and "hosting" are mentioned together.

Another technique to make sure you get better results is to use a sensible query. Make use of words that you think will be contained on the site you are looking for: "web hosting" is better then "I want web hosting".

Also remember that search engines normally ignore certain words like "a', "for", "of", "in", "at" etc.

Another important thing to remember is that most search engines have a 'tips' page that specifically contains information on how to make better searches on the search engine. It is always good to read these tips.

Most search engines have an advanced search option that is really useful if you are not proficient at using operators while searching.

Searching and finding what you are looking for is easy if you are armed with the know-how of how to do it.