Google handles a staggering number of searches every day. Although the tech giant won’t give an exact figure, estimates say it’s more than 3.5 billion searches a day.
Search engines make it easy to look things up, but only a fraction of searches give you the right results. As you probably know, you sometimes have to try a few times before you come up with the information you want.
If you’re interested in spending less time searching online, these nine tips are for you. With them, you can conduct internet research more efficiently than ever before.
1. Use Exact Phrases for Searching Online
The more unique and exact your search phrase, the more likely the search engine will find relevant results. Search engines work by comparing your keywords to the pages they index. If you’re looking for something specific, using the exact wording can narrow the results.
This means you get closer matches. There are limitations, of course. Typing in full sentences may not get you many matches.
There are also instances when you might want to use broad searches to haul in more results. Once you have the basic information, you can narrow your internet search more.
2. Use Operators for Customization
When you search the web, one option you’ll likely have is to create an advanced or custom search. Simple search usually has you put in a keyword or phrase. Then the search engine looks for pages with that wording.
Advanced searches have more parameters. These are often achieved by using operators. Some common ones include:
- The OR operator, which lets the search engine search for two or more keywords at once
- The plus (+) operator, which creates an additive phrase and includes common words
- The tilde (~) operator, which will search for synonyms simultaneously
- Numeric ranges, which can let you search for price ranges, a range of models, or even a set of dates
You can see how these operators create more specific and exact searches. They can also save you time by searching for similar terms all at once.
There are also some riskier operators, such as the wildcard operator (*). Google calls this “fill-in-the-blank.” Just put an asterisk after your search term, and Google will search for related terms.
3. Autocomplete Can Help
Autocomplete can be a problem if your smartphone keeps using your previous address. It can be an enormous benefit for internet researchers like you.
This Google searching technique lets Google do the keyword research for you. You start typing in your keyword or search phrase, and Google will fill in the rest. Google draws on what other users are entering to supply the most common search phrases.
Often, you’ll be able to find a more exact keyword or phrase using this method.
4. Bookmarks and Browser History
When you’re searching web pages, it’s a good idea to bookmark some of them so you can return to them later. Opening new tabs can help you compare between several resources.
Be sure to keep your bookmarks organized so you can easily locate the resource you’re looking for. If you do happen to lose a page, your browser history can help you recover it.
5. Drop Common Words and Suffixes
Another tip when you search the web is to drop common words and suffixes from your search terms. Searching for “birds” will yield fewer results than if you search for “bird.” The “s” eliminates any result that uses the singular “bird,” because it doesn’t match the search term.
Search engines also ignore common words, like “a,” “an,” and “the.” These words crop up so often that they’re usually irrelevant to your results.
If a common word is important, use the plus-sign operator to make the search engine pay attention.
6. Use Specialized Search Engines
Google is many people’s first stop when they need to do some internet research. Although it’s likely the best-known search engine, Google isn’t the only option out there.
There are even specialized search engines. LexisNexis, for example, offers a specialized search of laws and court cases. This useful resource turns up county courthouse records.
7. Know Your Sources
One of the best things about the internet is that anyone can put up a website in just a few easy steps, often for free.
This also means anyone can put their opinion out there or manufacture a fake story. When you’re searching online, you need to be able to check your sources.
One good hint is the URL. Educational sites have .edu domains, so the information is often coming from a school. .gov comes from the US federal government.
There are many other tips for evaluating the trustworthiness of an internet resource. If you’ve been bookmarking sites, compare the information between pages. If it seems contradictory, you might want to dig deeper.
8. Minus Signs and Quotation Marks
You can try a couple more tricks to narrow your searches. Adding the minus sign (-) to a search will subtract that phrase from your search results.
An example might be if you wanted to search for “galaxy.” You might find you come up with a lot of results for smartphones. If you add –Samsung to the search, Google will filter out pages about Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.
Quotation marks will force a search engine to look for the exact phrase. It will only provide results that use the exact phrase. This is a great tool if you’ve accurately remembered a quote, but it may not help if you’ve mixed up the wording.
9. Set a Time Limit
The internet has more than a billion websites, so most searches turn up plenty of results. You can spend a good deal of time crawling through them, trying to find what you want. Other searches are dead-ends, turning up a few irrelevant results or none at all.
Be sure to set a time limit on your research. If you haven’t found what you’re looking for in 15 or 20 minutes, it might be time to try another tactic.
Get Results Fast
Searching online is easier when you know exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re not sure, these tips can help you conduct more efficient research.
Looking for more ways to make your life easier? Our blog has plenty of tips, tricks, and tech hacks.