1. Computing

Web Search Made Simple

How to Search The Web Faster, Easier, and More Efficiently

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If you've ever been frustrated with your Web search results, today is your lucky day. Keep reading for a few simple methods that will make your Web search efforts faster, easier, and more efficient.

1. Use more than one search engine

Every search engine is different, and will give you different results. If you can't find what you're looking for quickly with the first search engine that you try, there's plenty more out there that can give you more information.

Search Engines:

  • The Ultimate Search Engine List: All-purpose search engines, visual search engines, people search engines...you'll find all these and more in this list of search engines, a comprehensive guide to the best search engines on the Web.
  • Top Ten Niche Search Engines: There are literally hundreds of really great niche search engines on the Internet that focus on specific topics: images, jobs, blogs, etc.

2. Know your search engine inside and out

It's easy to skim the surface of your favorite search engine and only use the most prominent features; however, most search engines have a wide variety of advanced search options, tools, and services that are only available to those dedicated searchers that take the time to search 'em out. All of these options are for your benefit - and can help make your searches more productive.

Get to Know Your Search Engine:

  • General Search Tips: These general search tips will work on almost every search engine on the Web.
  • The Best Search Engines: Pick the best search engines for your searching needs with Search Engines 101, a great way to explore more of your search topic.

3. Get to know common search terms

Knowing the basics of common Web search terms can help you make your Web search time a bit more productive - and thankfully, they're really not that difficult to learn.

Common Search Terms:

  • Web Search Glossary: A basic dictionary of Web search terms.
  • Boolean Search: Boolean search techniques can be used to carry out effective searches, cutting out many unrelated documents.
  • Basic Web Search-Add and Subtract: One of the most basic techniques is using the add and subtract symbols in your search string.
  • Look for a Specific Phrase: When you use quotation marks around a phrase, you are telling the search engine to only bring back pages that include these search terms exactly how you typed them in-order, proximity, etc.

4. Go off the beaten path

You can certainly find a ton of useful information with your friendly neighborhood search engine, but there's lots of material out there that they don't cover. That's where the Invisible Web comes in.

Using the Invisible Web:

  • What is the Invisible Web?: The term "invisible web" mainly refers to the vast repository of information that search engines and directories don't have direct access to, like databases.
  • Invisible Web Directory: Many individuals and institutions have put together invisible Web directories, which you can use as a jumping off point to surf the Invisible Web.
  • Complete Planet: CompletePlanet is a great Invisible Web research tool.

5. Frame your query differently

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again - but try again just a little bit differently. For instance, if you're not getting anything good for "pogo stick championships", try "winners pogo", or "pogo stick first place", etc.

Web Search: A Different View:

6. Spelling and grammar

Most search engines these days, if you misspell a word, will politely ask you "Did you mean...." and correct your spelling for you. Definitely take advantage of this feature - however, you can also get some pretty interesting results by deliberately misspelling the term that you might be searching for.

It's Okay to Misspell?

7. Metasearch

One search engine is great, but a dozen search engines - at one time - is even better.

Metasearch Engines

  • Search.com: Search.com retrieves results from Google, Ask Jeeves, LookSmart, AltaVista, MSN Search, and more.
  • Mamma Metasearch: Mamma.com is a good, solid meta search engine that provides fast and relevant results and excellent advanced search options.
  • Metasearch with Clusty: Learn about Clusty, a meta search engine with lots of interesting features, including a blogosphere meta search option, customization tabs, and of course, clustering.
  • Dogpile: Dogpile, a meta search engine, is a great way to compare and compile results from many different search engines and directories at the same time.

8. Global search

Don't limit your Web search to just your home country - go international.

Global Web Search

  • International Search Engines: Search all over the world through the eyes of international search engines.
  • Free Language Translation: Free language translation sites on the Web have made it possible for Web searchers to read documents and sites from all over the world, in any language.

9. Find some help

There are PLENTY of places on the Web where you can find expert help in a variety of subjects.

How to Find an Expert

  • Question and Answer Search Engines: If you're looking for a specific topic with a relatively narrow focus, question and answer search engines might just be what you're looking for. These search engines aggregate the vast resources of the Web into strictly defined categories; in other words, they make it extremely easy to find something.
  • Ask an Expert: Sometimes we forget in this age of Internet research that we can actually ask an expert for help. There are plenty of places both on and off the Web that you can tap into to find expert help for any kind of research topic that you can think of.

10. Use what other people have already done

One of my favorite things about Web search right now is the ability to harvest other people's Web searches all over the Web with the power of social bookmarking and social networking.

What are Other People Searching For?

  • Social Bookmarking Sites: These are sites that allow users to post their favorite sites, using tags (or keywords) to categorize and organize them; then other users can take these bookmarks and add them to their own collection or share them.
  • What is Social Networking?: You might have heard the term "social networking" in your travels on the Web. What does this mean?
  • How to Use del.icio.us: del.icio.us is a social bookmarks manager. It allows you to easily add sites you like to your personal collection of links.

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