“Who seeks, finds” – the saying goes. But those who know how to search find what they need faster, without wasting time or effort.
Mention the subject of your preference: medicine, technology, art, culture, finance, politics, health, hygiene, sports, entertainment, quality, management, among thousands of other subjects. Whether you require information for a research project in your master’s degree, you are redesigning a manufacturing process in your company or you are looking for a new provider of products or services, you will find on the Internet, particularly on the Web, a bank of very complete information that will allow you to obtain the information you need.
In most cases we do not have much time and we also have deadlines to give results. Hence the importance of knowing how to quickly locate the information we require.
Altavista, for example, handles more than 50 million query requests a day, serving a community of more than 63 million Internet users around the world.
Today locating information is easier than ever. To obtain useful and fast results, you do not need to learn any special commands. You only have to enter the words related to what you are looking for, sometimes accompanied by some punctuation, and surely the references in the first results will lead you to the information you require. This thanks to the search power of Search Engines.
Here are five practical tips on how to easily and quickly locate information on the Web:
1. Don’t get pigeonholed into a single search engine
No search engine can index one hundred percent of the millions of documents that make up the World Wide Web. For this reason, it is convenient to familiarize yourself with at least a couple of internationally renowned Search Engines. Here is a list of the fifteen most recognized:
Additionally, it is very convenient to experiment and know the benefits of multiple search engines, which from a single query request carry out a simultaneous search in two or more of the Search Engines that were previously listed.
This type of search is especially useful when you want to broaden your search range and evaluate more sources of information to find that “special place” with the product or service you are looking for. By employing a MetaSearch Engine, you know that the extra time spent researching more sources of information pays off.
2. Be as specific as possible in your searches
Avoid using very generic words like sports, medicine or technology. Be as specific as you can. Use sudafed, not medicine, german shepherd, not dog, volkswagen sedan, not car.
The Search Engine indexes are huge. They contain each of the words that make up the hundreds of millions of web pages. When you enter a word or phrase that is rare, like shrek, it is very likely that you will immediately get the information you need.
It is a good strategy to enter several words related to what you are looking for and it can be even a dozen or more. You don’t worry about the fact that the more words you enter, the more results you will get. There is actually no difference between having 100,000 or a million results. What matters is that the most useful references appear at the top of the list.
For example, entering the following parameters: web page design in Mexico, Altavista returns just under 180 million results. However, Milenium occupies the first position and that is precisely what you are looking for – a business partner in Internet technologies in Mexico. Or if you choose to enter the following parameters: web page design in Mexico, Altavista reports about 148 million results and, indeed, Milenium is once again in the top positions. Would you like to try: Marketing articles? Go ahead, note that there are just over 55 million results in Altavista, but you are mainly interested in the first 20 or 30 listings (this time we will not tell you that Milenium is number one again).
3. Experiment with different search techniques
Some people prefer to take control over their exploration and not depend on the automatic search facilities of specialized Search Engines software.
Even though they are considered extinct techniques, you can use punctuation to be more precise in your search. For example, you can specify a phrase instead of single words by enclosing the phrase in quotation marks, as in “lease tax treatment.” Likewise, you can insist that certain words must necessarily be contained in the search result documents by placing a + sign in front of the words, as in + sweets + typical + Mexico. You can also exclude the pages that contain certain words by putting a – sign before it, as in + distributors + coffee + grain-Colombia.
Most Search Engines still support the use of scores, but they rather recommend the use of advanced search.
4. Learn to run advanced searches
When the search becomes difficult and we have not been successful in our mission to locate certain information, it is time to turn to the advanced search facility that all Search Engines offer.
This Advanced Search facility takes advantage of the same features of the punctuation search, but employing more sophisticated coding by incorporating commands such as AND , OR , AND NOT, and NEAR. The search can include other parameters such as dates, date ranges, location or region, and domain names.
You do not need to learn this complex coding system, but simply fill out a simple form with the different query parameters. You will always find a link called Advanced Search located near the search toggle button.
5. Take into account the language factor
Finally, we must emphasize the influence of language on search results. When locating the pages, you have the option of instructing the Search Engine to display only documents written in a certain language.
The English language does not contain accents or special characters and Search Engines were originally designed to manage a database of mostly English-language documents. Today there are important advances in terms of indexing pages in the Spanish language. However, keep in mind that for Search Engines it is not the same mechanism as mechanical.
Do you work on a PC or Laptop with a keyboard without the special characters you require? Don’t worry, use the ease of your Windows system through the option Programs> Accessories> Character Map.
On some occasion, I read an article referring to the fact that in job interviews several decades ago, it was used to ask: Do you know how to use the telephone? Today of course the question sounds ridiculous. How about it then: Do you know how to use the Internet?
Information search techniques is definitely a specialty that a lot of people will be getting more and more involved in, and soon.