Search the Web More Efficiently: Tips, Techniques and Strategies (Part II)

Nov 11


Daniel Bazac

Daniel Bazac

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Search the Web More ... Tips, ... and ... (Part II) By Daniel Bazac - November 6, ... © 2003. All Rights ... Search Tool Should You Choose? * If you're look


Search the Web More Efficiently: Tips,Search the Web More Efficiently: Tips, Techniques and Strategies (Part II) Articles Techniques and Strategies (Part II)

By Daniel Bazac - November 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003. All Rights Reserved.

Which Search Tool Should You Choose?

* If you're looking for specific information use search

* If you're looking for a unique or obscure search term or if
you want to make an in-depth analysis of what's out there
on a specific subject, then use meta search engines.

* If you're looking for general information on popular
topics, use subject (web) directories.

* If you're looking for scholarly information use virtual

* If you're looking for real-time information or for
dynamically changing content such as the latest news, phone
book listings, available airline flights, etc., then use
specialized databases (invisible or deep web.)

There are thousands of search engines, hundreds of meta
search engines and dozens of web directories and specialized
databases. Choosing the right search tool - from the start -
can make the difference between a successful search and a
frustrating experience.

Before Starting the Search

The easiest way to find information is when you know a web
page Internet address or URL (Uniform Resource Locator) such
as Fortune Magazine at You can find
these addresses on business cards, TV commercials or
newspapers. Simply type the URL in the browser's address
box and hit the (PC) or (Mac) key.

Be aware that in most browsers, you do not have to type
"http://" or even "www" before the domain name. You can
access a site simply typing the domain name such as

Special note: Be careful when you copy and paste a long URL
from an email message or from some web sites. URLs that span
two lines have a gap (space) between the last character of
the first line and the first character on the second line.
First, get rid of the gap and then paste it in the
browser's address line.

Other times you may not know the URL but... you can guess
it. Often companies will use their name, acronym or
abbreviated name followed by ".com", such as or The same thing is true for educational
institutions (add the ".edu" suffix) or government sites
(add ".gov") So, whenever you don't know an URL, you can
try to guess it.

If you do not know the URL, you'll have to find it by
searching the Internet. In many cases, a simple search on
the name of an organization within most search engines will
return a direct hit on their web site.

Tips For Searching Smarter:

* Read the search engine's "search tips" or "help" page
before using a search tool. Strangely enough, most of the
time you'll find the "search tips" link on the "Advanced
Search" page or on the "results page." Anyway, regularly
check the search tips page because the rules often change.

* Customize the output of the results. Use the search
engine's "preferences" page. Some search tools allow you
to select the value for:
* the total results per page; usually 10 by default (select
* the maximum - often 100)
* the search tool's timeout - select the maximum
* the search depth - select maximum.
Be sure to save the new "settings" or "search
preferences" for the next time you use the search tools.
Also, set the browser you use to accept cookies.

Tips To Make Your Search Faster:

If you're searching for information and you are not
interested in graphics on the pages you see, turn off or
disable graphics. You can also turn off sounds, animation,
Java, JavaScript, etc. See your browser documentation for

If you decide to keep the graphics, in the case of a
"heavy" page, you can always press the button in
the browser, immediately after you see the text and before
the graphics are entirely loaded.

More Tips:

* Most search tools are case-insensitive which means that you
can construct a query - your search request - by typing all
the words - even proper names - in lower case text.

* If you type a long query, most of the search tools' search
boxes are not very wide so you cannot see the entire query.
Write the query in a word processor and then "copy and
paste" into the search box. Be aware that Google™ only
allows 10 words in the search box.

* Some search tools offer an option called "similar pages"
(Google™) or "related pages" (AltaVista and Teoma.)
Clicking on that option will show you relevant results for
the page you're interested in.

* Some search engines have a function called "see more
hits/results/pages from the same domain." Sometimes it can
be useful.

* Also, some search tools, such as Google™, allow you to see
an English translation for a results page that is written in
a foreign language. If you want to translate a web page and
you have the URL, you can also use:

* Systran [ ]
* Fagan Finder [ ranslate/ ] or
* alphaWorks (IBM)
[ ]

Remember, don't expect perfect translations because that
seldom happens.

* Looking for pages in a specific language? Some search
engines (Google™, AlltheWeb, etc.) have an advanced search
page that allows you to select the language from the
pull-down menu.

* If your search terms contain letters not present in the
English alphabet such as "é" or "ü" (example fiancé or
München), use Fagan Finder's (Search Engine Ultimate
Interface) which allows you to use these special letters in
many major search engines. It makes a big difference. A
search for Munchen in Google™ gives 570,000 results while
for München - "u" with umlaut - gives 51,700,000 - almost
10 times more.

So, let's start searching!

Most of the search tools can be searched using keywords. Web
directories and the invisible web databases can also be
searched by browsing categories and subcategories.

Start with a popular search engine such as Google™, for

Before typing the keywords, take your time and brainstorm
relevant words. Create a list of search terms. Write them
down. A few seconds of brainstorming could save you minutes
or hours of retrieving irrelevant results.

Advice for Searching Better:

* Select the most descriptive words. Brainstorm thoroughly.

* Use at least two keywords.

* Place the most important words or phrases first.

* Whenever two or more words can appear in exact order,
enclose the words with double quotation marks ("word 1 word
2".) Example: "United States." If you use a longer
phrase, you will achieve more precise results. With a very
long phrase, however, you may get zero results. Some search
engines allow you to select the "phrase" option in the
pull-down menu on their advanced search page or you can type
it in special phrase search box, so you don't have to use

* When possible, use unique, rare or unusual keywords. The
more uncommon / obscure or less frequent the keywords you
use are, the fewer and more relevant results you will get.

* Use nouns and objects as keywords. Do not use the so-called
"stop words" such as "what," "where," "the," "in,"
"and," etc. Many search tools ignore them. If you need a
stop word to appear in the results, place the implied
Boolean operator "+ " in front of that word. The standard
Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT (or AND NOT), NEAR, BEFORE,
AFTER and the Boolean logic "(parenthesis)", are used to
construct complicated queries. The implied Boolean operators
"+" and "-" can replace the AND and NOT respectively. An
example of Boolean logic is (tips OR tricks) AND ("search
engines" OR "web directories"). It will find tips or
tricks for search engines or web directories. Check the
search tool's tips to see if they accept Boolean operators.
For example Google™ does not support full Boolean logic.

* Do not use common terms such as Internet, Web, etc. except
for cases that it is necessary. (For example, the query is
"searching the web" with quotes.)

* Avoid redundant terms and complicated query structures.

* Choosing the right words for your query is the most
important part of web searching. The more specific the
search term, the more relevant your results will be and the
more likely it is that you will find what you seek.
Remember, work smarter not harder.

* The secret to constructing a professional query is to type
words you expect to find in the matches.

Note: Some search tools, such as Ask Jeeves allow you to use
the so-called "natural language." This means that you can
construct a query as a question in plain English, such as
"What's the weather in LA?" When you have a specific
question in mind, these tools can be helpful.

Please see Part III.