Get the Most From Your Web Search

Search engine

Like all research tools, web searches work better for you when you know how to use search engines. You may think that typing in your keywords is enough, but in fact, there are some search engine tips and tools that can make your queries more efficient and yield more relevant results. The following search engine tip (or two) will lead to better searches, but before we go there, it is important to know how search engines work.

Search engines use automated programs known as spiders or bots to scan the internet and build their databases. Data collected from each page on each website is then added to the search engine index. When you type in a keyword, your query is then checked against the search engines index of all of the websites and web pages it has scanned and analyzed. The websites that the search engines think are most relevant to your query, are then returned to you on the search engine results page (SERP).

The most common form of web searches are keywords. For this example, I will use the keyword query, Search engine tip. If I want to find any instance of the three words, SEARCH ENGINE TIP, in that order, I will use the boolean operation of inserting quotation marks around my keyword phrase. This is very helpful if you are looking for specific phrases. If you do not necessarily need those three words, SEARCH ENGINE TIP, to appear in that order, you can simply type those three words into your web query or use a plus sign between the words. (The boolean plus sign is somewhat redundant since the search engine naturally defaults to AND.) Boolean OR means at least one of your keywords must appear in the document, and boolean minus sign or NOT means you wish to exclude one of the keywords that you specify. You might use this latter search engine tip if you are searching for something similar to a common phrase or association. A good example of this search engine tip would be if you are searching for the top selling cars but are only interested in domestic. In this instance you would type in BEST SELLING CARS NOT FOREIGN. You could also search this way BEST SELLING CARS (NOT FOREIGN).

Another search engine tip is the boolean operation NEAR. NEAR means that the keywords you enter should be within a certain number of words of each other. Another search engine tip boolean operation is FOLLOWED BY, which means that one of your keywords must directly follow the other.

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