Most search engines work similarly. Use the following tips to maximize your results:
- List the most important words first.
- To get the most relevant results, use the most search terms possible.
- Search engines generally ignore common words like "and, where, to", etc.
- To require a word, precede it with a plus sign [+], such as +skating.
- To exclude a word (ie, exclude web pages that have a specific word), precede it with a minus sign [-], such as -basketball.
- To search on words that must appear together, enclose them in quotes, such as "Winter Olympics".
- Most search engines ignore capitalization.
- Most search engines ignore punctuation marks and single-digit numbers.
- Most search engines ignore single letters. However, you can override this by preceding them with a plus sign [+], such as: "Star Wars" +I.
Internet search engines work best when you use the fewest number of words possible for your information search. These words should be the most important (or "key") words of your question.
|So if you are looking for:
||Your Key Words are:
|Information on aardvarks
|Information on Thomas Jefferson
|The pyramids of ancient Egypt
|Math practice problems with fractions
|The flag of Bolivia
Most search engines assume that the first key word you type is the most important word. The first key word is searched more carefully than other words. Also, sites that have only the first word —but not the other key words—will be retrieved. When you type in your search, put the most important key word first.
Sometimes the words we choose may be too broad or narrow for the concept we want. If you are looking for information on all kinds of fruit and do one search for apples, one for oranges and one for plums, you will get information on some fruit but not all fruit. If you are looking for information on bananas and do a search on fruit, you may get more items than you really need or want.
Start your search with the most specific term you are looking for. If you do not find any matches, try a broader term.
A synonym is a word that has the same or similar meaning as another word. For example, a car may be called a car, auto, automobile, or a motor vehicle. A bicycle may be called a bicycle or a bike. If you use only one term and someone set up a file using a different term, the search engine will not find it. If your first search is unsuccessful, try using a synonym of your key word.
Tips & Techniques
Searching a person or topic
For information about a person, search their name (enclosed in quotes) and a few additional words to narrow your search. Enclose the person's name in quotes to ensure getting results for that individual. For instance, to find information about John Smith:
"John Smith" Seattle if you know John Smith lives in Seattle.
To narrow the search, add additional search terms:
"John Smith" Seattle fishing accountant if you know that John Smith likes to fish and that he is an accountant.
If you get results for a different John Smith, such as someone into basketball, exclude that term with a minus sign [-]:
"John Smith" Seattle -basketball.
To get results that must include a specific word, precede that word with a plus sign [+]:
"John Smith" +Seattle.
A good start is to do this search on yourself. You may be surprised what information is available about yourself online.
Similarly, for a topic, enclose relevant phrases in quotes, and add additional search words to narrow your search. For instance, to find out about fly fishing in Washington:
+"fly fishing" Washington -DC.
The plus sign [+] in front of "fly fishing" means that phrase must be included. The term "Washington" narrows the search to Washington. "-DC" excludes pages that have that term. Note that this particular search may return results about fly fishing in Idaho or other places not in Washington.