The internet contains more information than you can probably fathom. While much of that information can be useful given a particular need, knowing how to be selective within your search parameters will help you find what you’re looking for in a timely and efficient manner. This efficiency will eliminate wasted time spent sifting through unwanted websites and get you to the core of one’s interest. In essence, you are turning that ocean of data into a much smaller, more manageable pool.
- Phrase Search (“ ”) – For when you have that line from a film or song stuck in your head, but can’t think of the title or the rest of lyrics. Or, an ideal manner to check if a student simply used the copy and paste function to complete an assignment, when it sounds a little too good to be true. Example Search – “go ahead, make my day”
- Wildcard (*) – Adding an asterisk in the middle of a search phrase serves as a placeholder for the missing link/word. It can also be used when you have an idea of what you’re looking for, but are unsure what the best term to use is a.k.a. “tip of the tongue” syndrome. Example Search – “are * good pets”
- Site Search (site:) – A way to narrow the parameters of a search to a specific domain or domain extension, such as .COM or .ORG. This technique is particularly useful if one wants to hone in on a particular area of interest; for instance, .EDU only for academic research or .GOV for interest in laws/campaigns. In essence, the internet is an unorganized pile of information – many unmarked doors – and once you know that you’ve found the right house or site, it’s best to only peruse its contents rather than every site out there. Example Search – how to brew beer site:homebrewtalk.com
- Title Search (allintitle: or intitle:) – Look for specific news or articles with a single word in the title, or use the allintitle operator to find web pages where the entire phrase you search for is included in the page title. Example Search – allintitle:Jimmy Fallon Tonight Show
- Number Range (..) – Number range is another excellent way to narrow a search pinpointing a set of info between two integers. Whether it’s car models within a decade, sports statistics, billboard charts, foods which fit certain nutritional categories, or products that fall within a price range. Example Search – billboard popular 1980..1990
- File Type Search (filetype:) – Whether you are looking for images, videos, audio or documents, the best and most efficient way to peruse is by using the filetype search operator. Example Search – 2012 global warming report filetype:pdf
The internet is such a vast sea of information that without a means of restricting and narrowing the search process, you can feel overwhelmed. Sometimes you need to be lucky enough to stumble onto the right page after sifting through site after site in a trial or error procedure. Knowing how to use the proper search operators and understanding the techniques/strategies behind them will make the process fulfilling and enjoyable. Adding this efficiency to your searches will give you a much more clear direction from the beginning rather than swimming in circles and wasting your time.