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Internet Lesson 5

Search Engines and Strategies

Performing a Search

There are numerous search engines out there, but the most
popular ones are Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Each one has its
own unique features, but the process of doing a search is very similar on each.

Using the Search Bar

Most browsers have a built-in search bar, located to the right of the address bar. To do a search, just type what you're looking for (known as the search terms) in the search bar, and then press Enter. Your browser will then take you to the search engine's web site to show you the search results, which is a list of all of the web sites that contain your search terms.

With billions of web pages on the World Wide Web, how can you find exactly what you're looking for? By using a search engine. Search engines are specialized web sites that help you find what you're looking for on the Web. All you have to do is type in one or more keywords, and the search engine will look for matching web sites from all over the Web.

Built-in search bars make searching more convenient
Many browsers allow you to add to or change the search engines used by the search bar.

Assessing the Search Results
After you do a search, glance over the first page of search results. Did it return what you are looking for, or is it just a lot of unnecessary "junk"? If your search results don't seem very good, you may need to try different search terms. Remember, the search
engine can't read your mind; it just looks for matching words. For example, if you just search for the word polish, the search engine doesn't know whether you're looking for shoe polish or a history of the Polish language! You could improve your search results by searching for shoe polish.

 However, that still may return a wide variety of web sites, such as:

  • Stores that sell shoe polish
  • Guides on how to polish shoes
  • The history of shoe polish
  • And probably much more

To get the best results, ask yourself: What exactly am I looking for? Specific terms usually return better results.

Related Searches
A search engine will often recommend related searches that may be more specific than the search terms you used. Related searches are usually listed at the bottom of the page. Bing also lists them to the left of the search results.

Related searches can help you narrow down your search.

Advertisements

Search engines may include advertisements along with the search results. These ads are picked by the search engine based on your search terms, and they look a lot like the actual search results. While they may be useful in some cases, it's usually more effective to focus on the "regular" search results.

Google puts its ads (which it calls Sponsored Links) at the top and to the right of the search results.

Ads are usually at the top and to the right.

Improving Your Searches
As you gain experience with search engines, you'll be able to do better and better searches, which means it will become quicker and easier to find what you are looking for. Here are a few tips for improving your searches:

Take suggestions.

As you're typing your search terms, the search engine will try to guess what you're searching for, and it will show a list of search suggestions (which are similar to related searches, except they happen while you're typing). These can give you ideas for search terms that you may not have thought of.

Search suggestions

Search phrases. Put quotes around a phrase so each word in the phrase isn't searched for separately. For example, if you put quotes around "free online games," the search engine searches for that entire phrase in a web page. However, if you simply type free online games, the search engine searches for each of the words individually which may not give you the results you desire.

Exclude words. Use a hyphen (-) at the beginning of a word to exclude search results containing it. For example, macaroni -cheese. In many search engines the word NOT (in all caps) is used, as in macaroni NOT cheese. Use OR. You can use OR (all caps) to include either of two search words. For example, soup recipe tofu
OR fish should return recipes for soup that contain tofu or fish (or both).

You could also search for soup recipe tofu OR fish OR chicken OR beef. Get Help. Go to your search engine's Help page for more specific information on a particular engine.

Specialized Searches

Are you looking for news articles, images, videos, or online stores? You can use a specialized search to search for a specific type of content. For example, if you do an image search, the search will find and display images for you, instead of finding links to pages that may or may not have relevant images.

Generally, a search engine will include links at the top of the page to go to the specialized searches.