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Getting the most out of the web

By Richard Churchill – First Published June 2010

The world wide web is a fabulous resource, containing many times the information of even the largest encyclopedia, in fact is contains many of the worlds best encylopedias.  Finding the information you want in this massive resource can be far from easy, the trick is to use the web to help you.

If you have used the web you will have used a search engine, but has anyone ever told you how best to use them?  Probably not.  I don’t have enough room for a lot of detail but I hope to give you a few tips that will make life a lot easier for you.

So what search engines are there? The biggest, used for about 90% of all searches is Google.com.  Yahoo.co.uk, Ask.com and Microsoft’s Bing.com account for most of the remaining 10%. While Google is the biggest, Bing produces results of equal quality.  Ask will often produce very different results from its rivals, which helps if you are struggling to find answers.  I suggest trying each service and see which one produces the best results for you.

Once you have chosen a search engine, how do you get the best results?  It all comes down to the question you ask, your search term.  When a search engine looks for something it doesn’t try to answer a question, instead it looks for the words in your search and tries to give you the most “relevent” answers.

So the more specific you can be with the words in your search, the better the results you will get. “Date of the Thornbury Carnival” will match more relevent pages than “When is the Thornbury Carnival?”  Why? because a website is more likely to say “The date of Thornbury Carnival is..” so the first search will match more words.

Internet searching is a skill you have to learn, it takes practice but at least now you know how the search engines “think”, so have  go and good luck searching.

Going further

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