Searching the internet for specific information is pretty simple isn’t it?
Surely all you have to do is type in what you’re looking for and hit search, and hey presto, you’ll discover precisely what you’re searching for. Broadly speaking, what you type in the search box is pretty much what you’ll get back, but if you are looking for more than just a basic query, here are one or two tips that might help you refine the way you search and produce more helpful and relevant results.
Generally every word you use in a search is relevant, and each search engine will use these words to find the precise information you are looking for. Searches are not case-sensitive, so whether you capitalise unnecessarily doesn’t really matter. Punctuation similarly is usually ignored. However, as you might expect, there are exceptions to these ‘general’ rules. (These will be covered in a further article.)
How to make your searches more accurate and relevant
Simple’s the best
Whatever you want to search for, the best advice is keep it simple. If you’re searching for a company, start with its name. The same applies to all queries. If you’re searching for a bookshop in your area, type in the name and then maybe add the postcode. In general, most queries won’t need any further refinement.
Imaging how the information you’re searching for might appear on a web page
Search engines may be clever, but they can’t think like a human being. Consequently, what you type as a query might not necessarily be interpreted in the way you would like. Remember to type words in your search that are likely to appear on the web page. If you’re feeling under the weather and are nauseous, search for information about nausea, rather than saying ‘I feel sick.’ It may well be clear to you, but unfortunately this statement is unlikely to be replicated on the web page you’re searching for.
Describe what you’re searching for in as few words as possible
Every word you use in a search is relevant. However, the more words you use to search, the more likely it is that your query will be diluted. The trick is to use as few keywords as possible. Too many will limit the results you get back, and you could well miss out on lots of useful information. If you only use a few keywords and find that you don’t get the information you’re searching for, the results page of your search engine will probably give you an indication of any additional words that might be needed to refine your search.
Choose your words carefully
For quicker and more accurate results, use specific and descriptive keywords. If you’re searching for Jimi Hendrix, then use the name rather than ‘guitar – hero’ Also try and avoid generic words like ‘company’ or ‘website’ as these are not descriptive and add little, if anything, to the scope of your search.
Remember – keep it short, simple and relevant, and your search engine will generally give you the kind of results you’re looking for.