Tips to help you search like a pro!

By | July 6, 2011
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I was just thinking how funny the title of this article is. Are there really professional searchers? Really? Are there people who do nothing but search the Web all day? I bet there are. And if you know a company that needs someone to sit around and search the Web all day, and will pay me well for it, please tell them I’m interested. I’m thinking the word “Pro” (OK so it’s not a word, it’s cool-speak for “Professional”) is way over used. Software companies make “standard” versions and “Pro” versions. What pro ever uses an instant messenger — I mean for business? Really. Do you know a pro who uses Cletus Instant Messenger Pro? Is there such a thing as Cletus Instant Messenger? If not, there should be.

Anyway…

Do you ever search for things using a search engine and find yourself scrolling through page after page of irrelevant search results until you finally get to what you were search for? Here are some search engines tips and tricks that we use that work in almost all search engines. We use Google, but these work in MSN, Yahoo and most other popular search engines as well.

We’ll use an example to show you some of our favorite tips: Let’s say you’re looking for sports cars and all you’re getting is information on football, baseball, basketball and all kinds of cars. Try some of the try some of these tips for defining your search.

1. Search for: sports + cars
Most search engines will interpret this as meaning you only want results that have both the word “sports” and “cars” in them.

2. Exclude terms: sports+cars -football.
The minus sign tells the search engine to exclude the term with the minus sign preceding it. Just be sure you don’t put a space after the minus sign. As in the example above, if you want to exclude “football” from your results type -football.

3. Most search engines have an “advanced search” option that gives you a web-style way to help you accomplish the same thing as the tips above. The “advanced search” option gives you multiple choices via drop-down menus and other choices to help you narrow your search so that your results are more targeted to what you’re looking for. Although the advanced search option is easier, using + and – in your search terms is almost always faster and produces much the same result as the search engine’s “advanced search” option.

4. You can also try being more specific. Instead of typing sports cars , try using specific names. For example sports+cars+mercedes or sports+cars+vintage (you get the idea). The possibilities are virtually endless. The more you narrow your search terms the more likely it is you’ll find exactly what you are looking for the first time and on the first or second page of search results. If you narrow your terms it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself scrolling through eighty pages of irrelevant search results to get to results you want.

5. Another good tip. Quotes will often help search engines define your terms. If you’re searching for sports cars, try typing “sports cars”. The words between the quotes are interpreted as a phrase by most search engines. If you’re looking for knitting supplies, try typing “knitting supplies”. Try it both ways. Many times you’ll see different results. You should only get results that match your exact phrase in the exact order you typed them. So type them in the order that is most likely to give you the results you want.

Remember too, that the above tips work with most, but not all search engines. These tips work well in Google and probably in your favorite search engine too. It’s worth a try. If these tips work for you, you’ll find yourself using them all the time. It’s great to get the results you want the first time rather than having to go through pages and pages of irrelevant search results to find whatever you’re looking for.

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