The Internet contains a vast myriad of information, and attempting to sift through it can be a daunting task. However, there are many search engines out there that make finding information easier for us all. These can be used to search for key terms in web pages all over the Internet. The following will give you some tips to use when utilizing these search engines.
First, it is helpful to note that the more specific you make your search, the more likely you will find what you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to tell a search engine exactly what you’re looking for. As an example, if you wanted information about Outlook Express errors, you should search for “Outlook Express errors,” not “Outlook Express.” Also attempt to search for exactly what the problem or issue is, such as “I cannot configure my Outlook Express to receive e-mail,” for example. Such a search often yields promising results, like FAQ pages or discussion forums.
When putting multiple words into a search engine, most engines will default them as having “ANDâ€ť between them. So searching for “math division” will yield results with ‘math’ and ‘division’. Using a + symbol in your search will give you the same results. Therefore, searching “math +division” will gain the same results. It is possible to use “OR” between words to yield results with at least one of the words. A search for “math OR division” will give you results that contain the word ‘math’, or results which contain ‘division’, but not necessarily results which contain both words.
As well as using a search engine to find pages that have one word in them, there may be times when you want your search to exclude another word. Using a minus symbol allows you to do this. For example, if you wanted information on astronomy but did not want to receive any pages related to Mars, you could search the following: astronomy -Mars
This type of search causes the search engine to find pages which include “astronomy” but will ignore pages which include “Mars”.
You can use the minus symbol on several words in your search. In the above example, if you wanted to search for pages about astronomy, but wanted to ignore pages that have anything to do with Mars, the moon, and the sun, you could use the following: astronomy -Mars -moon -sun
In general, the minus symbol is very helpful when you need to focus the search results, especially if you get too many results that are not relative to what you want. If you are overwhelmed by your results, begin subtracting terms you know you don’t want to include. You should get fewer and more specific websites after this.
Another useful tool with search engines is a set of quotation marks. Normally, if you did a search for the term Iowa State, it would give results containing both the word Iowa” and the word state. However, by putting the search in quotation marks, it will search for the exact phrase. Putting “Iowa State” within quotes would, therefore, give results containing the exact phrase.
All of the above symbols and tools can be combined. If you were interested only in finding information on the television series Star Trek: Voyager, and do not want results from the other Star Trek series, you could search the following: “Star Trek” +Voyager -“next generation” -“deep space nine”. This would eliminate almost all pages not pertaining to what you need. Experiment with different combinations and you are sure to find exactly what you are looking for!