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Web Search Basic Skills

Six Basic Web Search Skills You Need to Have


There are a few tried and true web search methods that will work in virtually any search engine and directory.Here are six basic web search skills you need to have in order to have truly successful web searches.

Web Search Basics

  • Keywords. The more narrowed down you can get your Web searches from the beginning, the more successful your Web search usually will be. For example, if you were searching for "coffee", you'd get way more results back than you could use; however, if you narrowed that down to "roasted Arabica coffee", you'd be more successful.
  • Phrases. If you're looking for an exact phrase, put it in quotes. Otherwise, you'll come back with a huge jumble of results. Here's an example: "long haired cats." Your search will come back with these three words in proximity to each other and in the order you intended them to be, rather than scattered willy-nilly on the site.
  • Use Basic Math.Broaden or narrow your search efforts by using add and subtract. For example, you are searching for Tom Ford, but you get lots of results for Ford Motors. Easy - just combine a couple of Web search basics here to get your results: "tom ford" -motors. Now your results will come back without all those pesky car results.
  • Wildcards. You can use "wildcard" characters to throw a broader search net in most search engines and directories. These wildcard characters include *, #, and ?, with the asterisk being the most common. Use wildcards when you want to broaden your search. For example, if you are looking for sites that discuss trucking, don't search for truck, search for truck*. This will return pages that contain the word "truck" as well as pages that contain "trucks", "trucking", "truck enthusiasts", "trucking industry", and so on. You can find out more about wildcard searches in my article titled How to Do a Wildcard Search.
  • Find the Word. Sometimes you might get back a page that you have no idea why it was returned; especially if it's a long, wordy document. Just hit Ctrl (at the bottom left of your keyboard), then F (for find), and then type in the text you are looking for. Voila! Your word or phrase is now highlighted.
  • Guess.If you have basic knowledge of how URL's are constructed, you can "guess" the location of a particular site. For example, commercial sites will be "sitename.com", college and university sites will be "sitename.edu", non-profit organizations will be "sitename.org", and so on.
  • Don't Give Up. If you're just starting out learning how to search the Web, it's easy to be overwhelmed with just the sheer amount of information that is available to you, especially if you're searching for something very specific. Don't give up! Keep trying, and don't be afraid to try new search engines, new Web search phrase combinations, new Web search techniques, etc.

These tips, while pretty generic, will greatly increase your chances of having a successful Web search experience. Don't be afraid to try new methods; experiment a little with your Web search strings and see what happens. Want to learn more about searching the Web? Try these articles:

  • Web Search 101-How To Search The Web:Want to learn how to search the Web? This is the best place to start! Learn how to search the Web faster, make your Web searches more efficient, learn about search engines, and become a more precise Web searcher.
  • How To Pick A Search Engine:Pick the best search engine for your searching needs with Search Engines 101, a great way to explore more of your search topic, try a new search engine, and search more of the Web.

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