Search engines are great because they help you find websites. Without them, you would have to directly know a website’s URL, and this isn’t practical if you are searching for new information. At the same time, there are times when search engines won’t be able to find what you are looking for. If you want to get more out of your search engine experience, then try using these tips to narrow the search to exactly what you want.
Advanced Search Options
Most major search engines have an “Advanced” section, but very few users use this section for one reason or another. If you want very specific information, then this is one of the best places to start.
Each search engine will have different advanced options, but the common features are narrowing a search to a certain area, date or very specific phrases. This allows you to customize the search to your exact needs, rather than relying on a common, broad search to find the information that you are seeking.
If you enter a broad term, then you will probably get broad results. There’s nothing wrong with that, but some terms will bring up links that you don’t want to see. For example, if you search “water,” then you will see a lot of links for bodies of water, bottled water and water-based activities. If you want to reduce the likelihood of a term showing up, then just use a minus sign.
If you don’t want bottled water to show up in your search, then type, “water –bottled.” This will tell the search engine to look broadly for water, but to keep bottled water out of the displayed results. This is good for times when you want to see a broad result, but you want the search to be somewhat narrowed to your specifications.
You can use for this many terms at once. For example, you can search “water –bottled –ocean –lake” to make the search more specific.
Search engines are becoming better at estimating your location, but they still aren’t perfect. They will often correctly assume the state you are living in, but the town might be wrong. If you are searching for something specific to your area, then help the search engine by adding your zip code or town name.
For example, searching for “weather” or “restaurants” might bring back links and information that applies to the next town over. It would be much better to type, “weather 07730” or “restaurants New York City.”
Eliminate and Sway
You can keep the search engine from displaying certain terms or sway it to favor other terms by adding a single word. If you add the word “and” to your search, then it will sway your search to include that information. For example, searching for “Michael Jordan” will bring back many links about his basketball career. If you want to find out about his short baseball career, then type “Michael Jordan and baseball.”
If you want to eliminate certain information, then add the word “not” to your search. For example, searching “Justin Bieber not singer” will show the few links that are about someone else named Justin Bieber on Twitter and Facebook.
Search engines are programmed to broadly search the phrase or words that you input into the text field. For example, searching for “chocolate cupcake with red icing” will bring back similar results like “red icing cupcake,” “icing red and chocolate cupcake” or “cupcake chocolate red icing.”
If you want the search to specifically show your term as you wrote it, then add quotation marks around the phrase. This will dramatically reduce the number of displayed links, but they will only show your exact phrase. This is good for very specific searches.
Search engines are great because they help you find new websites, but they sometimes get a little confused about what you are looking for. If you want search engines to work with you instead of against you, then try using these tips to improve your results. This will make your search engine experience much better, and it will ensure that you find exactly what you are looking for.
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