Tips on Searching the Internet

Tasks Strategies
  1. Part of searching the Internet is identifying keywords related to the topic and narrowing broad ideas of interest to more specific issues.
Go to a topic oriented directory such as Yahoo and browse topics and subtopics to find the broad idea of interest.. Then look its' the links and subtopics to identify some of the sub-issues and search words.
  • Make a list of keywords, distinctive words that relate specifically to the idea of interest.
Identify distinctive words that relate specifically to the idea of interest. Include synonyms, anonymous and alternative spellings and forms.

Avoid very common terms like Internet and people.Use phrases or proper nouns if possible.

  • Construct your search expression. This is a way of asking your question to the search engine in a way that it understands. The language is called Boolean.
  • Don't limit yourself to one search. You learn from the results of each search run and can refine your Boolean express each time improving your list of hits.

Boolean is a way of telling the search what to look for and what not to look for. It uses logical connector terms such as AND, OR, and NOT.

AND placed between two terms mean to find site that have both terms, such as :

Internet AND publishing

Not using the AND would return sites about Internet and sites about publishing...a lot of sites. Including the AND connector returns only sites that have both Internet and publishing it them -- sites about publishing on the Internet.

OR is another connector. When it is placed between search terms, the search engine will return sites that have either one or the other term, or both.

Weather OR climate

The OR connector here will return all sites about weather or climate, or those that mention both words.

NOT is a third connector that identifies terms that should not be included in the resource.

Minnesota AND twins NOT baseball

If a person is search for twins in Minnesota, then the return may be full of pages about the Minnesota Twins. By adding the NOT connector, this eliminates those pages.

Some search engines use plus (+) and minus (-) symbols to include and exclude terms. By placing a plus before a word in the search expression, you guarantee that the word will be included in the returned web pages. By placing a minus symbol in front of a term, you guarantee that the term will not be present on the returned web pages.

The above search expression would look like this:

+Minnesota +twins -baseball

  • Using a phrase as a search term.
Some times, you are looking for information about a person or a book, and the search term is more than one word forming a phrase or proper name. In entering the words into a search engine's search field, you have to tell it that all of these words must be search together as a group in this specific order.

On most search engines, you do this by placing quotes around the text.

"A Tale of Two Cities"

Sometimes, you place hyphens between the words.


Tip: The most important tip for using search engines is to read the help files associated with each one. To the right are the URLs of some of the search engines help files Yahoo --

Alta Vista --

Excite --

InfoSeek --

HotBot --

Magellan --

WebCrawler --

Copyrighted by David Warlick