You’re looking for information on a topic, but your search results don’t seem relevant. You start adding words to be more specific, and you still come up empty. How can you do a better search?
Things you may not know.
- There are dozens of search engines. Google processes about 90% of all the worldwide searches, and Bing processes about 2.4% of the searches worldwide. All the rest of the search engines are in the remaining 7.6 percent of the worldwide searches.
- Duck Duck Go is possibly the largest search engine that does not track nor saves your activity. It processes about 0.5% of the worldwide searches.
- Bing (Microsoft) owns Yahoo now. When you use yahoo, you are seeing the same results Bing users see.
- When people perform information searches, there can be millions of results. The vast majority of people look at the ten results on the first page. They rarely go to the second page. People seldom go to the third page.
- Many search engines show you advertisements. Google typically places them at the top right side or below the search results. Bing tends to mix ads within the results. At least that is my experience.
How to improve your searches
What is described here works with Google and should work on many other search engines.
- Use “Advanced Search:” Go to google.com >>Look on the lower right for “Settings” >> Advanced Search. You will see a series of boxes telling google to exclude certain words or make sure all the words are included. When done filling in the appropriate boxes, click the blue “Advanced Search” button.
- You can also use Boolean search terms. Use upper case letters and write AND or OR between your search terms. AND makes sure ALL the typed words are included in the search results. OR will provide any of those words in the search results.
- Exclude specific search results. Use the minus (-) before a search term that you want to exclude. For example, search for “hats – baseball” will remove most of the baseball hat results. It may not remove all, but most.
- The default for search results is often set to 10. If you want to have more results and a longer first page, go to the settings on google.com and change the number of results from ten to something higher. The maximum you can set it to is one hundred results. Make sure you click the save button at the bottom.
- If you are looking for a specific product but aren’t having any luck using words to find it, try an image search. AFTER you perform a search, you should see a line of links under the google search box above the results. The first says “All,” and that is the default choice. When that is selected, you’ll see a mixture of web pages, images, video, etc. But if you choose “Images,” you’ll see only pictures. There have been times when I was hunting for something that I didn’t know the proper terms. I switched to images and found a picture of it. From there, I was able to search for the item correctly.
- Do Math. You can type a formula on the search box, and it will give you a result. Try “2-3*15/2” The answer should be “-20.5.”
- It can translate. Type “translate” before the phrase. Try “translate thank you in Italian.”
- You can convert units of measure. For example, “36 inches into meters.”
Some Google features only work when using the Chrome browser.
For example, apps or extensions in the Chrome Web Store (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/) only work in the Chrome browser. There are hundreds of apps and extensions. One that I use often is screencastify which records whatever you see on your screen. There is a free (5 min video) and a paid-for version.
You can use your voice to search when using the Chrome browser. Go to google.com, and in the search box to the right is a microphone. Click it, wait for it to be ready, and state your search or formula or translation.
You can also use the following key combination to turn on the voice recorder: Click the CTRL+Shift+. (period key), wait until prompted to speak. For a Mac computer, the keys are Command+Shift+. (period key).
And there is more. Google is the current King Kong of the search world. One of the reasons is its versatility. More private alternatives to check out would be Duck Duck Go and the Brave browser (Search for brave browser and download and install).