7 Ways to Sharpen Your Search Engine Skills

It’s possible to find nearly anything online, from guidance on how to properly raise a pet snake to the most popular chocolate cookie recipe to how to make a million dollars. While the search engines are getting more powerful and intuitive every day, it can still be challenging to find what you’re looking for. If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know how frustrating it can be. With a few simple tips, you can greatly improve your search results and find exactly what you need.

Be specific. If you’re searching for the history of the American automobile, you’re probably going to get more relevant results if you include Henry Ford’s name in your search. The vocabulary that you use should be as targeted as possible. Every field has its own vocabulary. Learn it and use it.

Utilize the best search engine. Google seems to be the default, but there are better choices for certain topics. For example, http://www.scirus.com specializes in science related searches. If you’re searching for pictures, http://www.picsearch.com has indexed over 3 billion pictures! Take the time to look for the best search engine for your needs; you’ll save time and improve your results. You might want to try the search, list of search engines and see what you find. You might be surprised.

Investigate the advanced features. Many search engines have advanced features that rarely get used. For example, Google search has the ability to exclude certain search terms and to limit a search to a particular domain name. You can even limit the search the search to certain countries or certain types of files. This is merely scratching the surface.

Use quotes to find an exact match. Putting your search term(s) within double quotes “abcxyz”, will return search results with that exact term. This can be incredibly handy if you’re searching for something specific.

Use search operators. Google has a plethora of ways you can improve your searching. For example, the search computer $500…$900 will return results with the word ‘computer’ and a dollar figure between $500 and $900 dollars. The use of ‘…’ returns a range between two numbers. There are other operators. Check them out.

Take a class! Google has a free, self-paced search engine course that can be found right here. After taking the introductory class, there is an advanced course on the same web page. Who better to teach the ins-and-outs of search than Google themselves? With a little searching, you’re sure to find other instructional opportunities.

Keep your search terms short, but not too short. Search terms should be long enough to be specific, but not so long that the results are diluted with too many unrelated results. A good tactic can be to start simple and then evaluate the results. If you’re not getting what you need, include additional terms and re-evaluate the results.

Improving your search engine skills can be accomplished quickly and easily, with a little bit of work. Becoming a better online searcher will save valuable time and improve your effectiveness. Put these tips to use and watch your search skills (and knowledge) soar.

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