Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How To Find Information on the Internet Using Search Engines - 2

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The challenge with using search engines is when they give you back so many pages of links that it’s hard for you to know which particular link will have the information you want. Thankfully, most good search engines (including the ones mentioned above) will figure out what pages are most relevant to you.

But you can also help yourself by adding more words that describe better what you are interested in to your search. So if you are interested in knowing how to cook Nigerian food, you can search for preparing nigerian food instead of just nigerian food.

Another tip is to look carefully at the content of some of the pages that the search engine returns to you when you are searching for information. These pages might have some words in common that might give you an idea of some other things that are related to the thing you are searching for, and this can help you in your search.

As an example, let’s say that the search engine returns a bunch of links to you after you search for preparing Nigerian food. If you go to the pages that first several links point to, you might notice that a lot of those pages aren’t really focusing specifically on Nigerian food. But if you look at the content of the pages, you’ll see that words like spice, rice, stew and gari seem to be specifically associated with Nigerian food. This means that if you search for preparing Nigerian food gari rice stew, you are more likely to find sites which provide information specifically on Nigerian food.

In addition to the basic search engine functionality, each search engine has advanced features that go beyond just allowing you to search for pages that contain the words you type in. Most will let you search for a specific phrase by putting the words in the phrase in quotes (for example, “arise o compatriots” will likely find you the Nigerian national anthem, since it has this exact phrase in it). Some will let you specifically exclude words that you don’t want to appear in the pages you are looking for. The best way to find out about these advanced features, is, well, you guessed it - to use a search engine to find out information about these features.

One last point. You’ll probably use search engines primarily to search for general textual information, but there’s a whole range of engines springing up that can search for other kinds of things. For example, if you’ve seen an image somewhere on the internet and want to know more about it, Google Images will let you search for it. Or if you want to find out what the latest news is about a particular musician, you can search for this on Bing News. There are search engines that let you find a particular location on a map and even see what the neighbourhood at that location looks like - a bit like travelling to the place without leaving your seat.

But search engines are only one piece of the puzzle. What if you have searched for information but you can’t find it? Well, that’s where the other pieces come in.


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